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UK Gambling Industry Veers Towards M&As

peel-huntThe British gambling industry is putting its bets on the mergers and acquisitions table to wrench better profits in the future. A slew of large deals in 2015 include the Gala Coral and Ladbrokes tie up amounting to £2.3 billion, the merger of Paddy Power and Betfair amounting to £6 billion and the event of Bwin acquisition by GVC for about £1.1 billion. Nick Batram of Peel Hunt has opined that operators are searching ways to scale up for two principal reasons: to offset costs of technology, compliance and tax and also to find new avenues for growth in an increasingly competitive market.

Online growth

paddy powerThe majority of growth, which happened in the industry actually took place online. Consumers now prefer their smartphones as their medium to gamble, thereby hitting high street operators hard. The pain of latter is further compounded in the presence of a challenging regulatory environment. It is inclusive of the £50 maximum betting tariff every time on the gaming machines. People who wish to place more than £50 amount has had new restrictions to navigate.

Duties imposed on machine gaming are a high of 25 percent. Purchasing land centric assets were- and are- always expensive. These factors compelled Gala Coral to merge with Ladbrokes, creating the biggest bookmaker in the United Kingdom. The combined entity has approximately 4,000 betting shops scattered over British high streets. Predicted cost efficiency due to this deal is calculated to be £65 million.

Future is mobile

Paddy Power, the online betting shop, and a known high street gambling entity, published in its 2014 annual report the claim that about 90 percent of growth in the future will be in mobile space. The logic made it combine with Betfair, the website betting exchange, thereby making the new entity of the biggest in the world.

Playing Casino Games With the UK & Germany Mobile Casinos

The concept of UK mobile casinos and German mobile casinos have been introduced with the basic aim of making casino gambling a more interesting source of recreation for countless people who can now enjoy gambling from almost anywhere and everywhere.

The fun and entertainment related to gambling is now directly available at your mobile phone platform, be it Android phone, Windows phone, iPhone, iPad or BlackBerry phone.

williamhillmobileAndroid phone platforms are among the most popular sources for the casino players online. The best among the online casinos have speedily adopted to the Android mobile platforms. The Android casinos currently offer a collection of the top casino games along with a safe experience.

  • William Hill Mobile Casino with convenient sign up process and great customer support offers a huge number of games, 100% deposit bonus for newbies. This is also one of the fastest and safest Android mobile casinos for UK players.
  • Sky Vegas featuring the opportunity to play with £10 and no deposit bonus delivers an amazing 200% initial deposit bonus till £1000. Their customer service is great and the mobile casino is equally safe.

sky-vegasAll Jackpots Mobile Casino in Germany is a popular platform for the players. Offering an amazing welcome bonus of $£€200 and 10% cash back facility on all deposits, this is the ideal mobile casino for the players looking to play for fun or for real money. Here you get to play a huge number of casino games including slots games, progressive jackpot games and slots tournaments. This mobile casino also offers secured payment options like Click2Pay, ecoPayz, Maestro Card, MasterCard, NETeller, Ukash and UseMyBank. The casino software is designed by Microgaming.

Atlantis Gold giving you a sign up bonus of 100% match and free till $1000 also allows 22 spins for free and a second welcome bonus of $150 (22%). There are daily promotions and a splendid collection of casino games to feast on. You can pay through Mastercard, Ukash, Paysafe, Eco, Visa and Skrill. The currencies supported by the casino are $, £, Euro and the Betsoft software company has given shape to this casino.

Gear up for the best casino mobile games and keep playing for amazing new bonuses and promotions including tournaments.

A £1Million Engagement Gift For Moray Couple

lottery-balls-moneyWhat better way to start planning your wedding than to win a lottery that will take care of the expenses and leave enough for a lot of other things? Michael Innes and fiancée Megan Fulton are the lucky couple who won £1 million just when they had started planning their nuptials. Megan is a student of nursing, while Michael is an offshore worker who works as a catering steward in Buckie. The young couple still cannot believe their luck and the timing of the win. They currently live in his parents’ house at Buckie, while they live at Tenerife.

Celebrating the win in style

Michael InnesThe couple celebrated their amazing win at Elgin’s Mansion House Hotel. Neither of them could hide their excitement and all that they could do with the money. For the young couple about to get married and start a new life, it has definitely been a great start. They are still not able to believe that they got so lucky at an online Monopoly millionaire game by National Lottery. Michael’s parents are equally happy and excited for the couple and their big win.

Michael is hoping the excitement does not come in the way of Megan’s nursing exams that is scheduled for a week after they won.

Plans for the future

The couple is relieved that they can now plan their wedding and life as a married couple better, now that they have all this money to plan for their life. They plan to have the wedding they have always wanted instead of settling for something smaller and simpler that they had decided on before the win. They are also planning to buy a house for themselves so that they could move out of his parents’ place after marriage. They plan to hold off any other major decisions till later, when they get over all the excitement and are in a better position to make decisions.

Greece Opens Up Doors for Gambling As Winamax Exits Italy

Mid-March saw two major developments in the online gambling industry in two European nations – Greece and Italy. On one hand, Greece sought to garner greater revenues by unveiling new steps in online gambling legislation. On the other hand, Winamax, a giant operator in the world of online gambling, has decided to shut shop in Italy.

The big bet

WinamaxIn a bid to keep a bailout at bay and ensure the continued flow of aid from the European Union, Greece is looking to ease up regulations on online gambling. This move is expected to bring in annual revenues of around EUR 500 million.

Although the finer details are yet to be revealed, Greece’s Finance Minister, Yanis Varoufakis, has shot of a letter to the Eurogroup. In it, he promises the advisory body that he will open up revenue streams for Greece through online gambling.

Critics and experts, however, deem that the finance minister’s estimate of EUR 500 million is a highly exaggerated one. In the current scenario, reports say, Greece’s online gambling industry generates gross revenues somewhere between EUR 160 – 240 million. Taxing this will bring revenues that are nowhere close to the EUR 500 million mark.

Exit Winamax

winamax-online-pokerIn the same week, Winamax , a major online poker platform in France, has decided to end its Italy operations. Online gambling operators in Italy are required to carry a licence issued by the AAMS body. Winamax has never possessed the licence even though scores of Italians took advantage of a loophole in its registration process to log on and gamble.

However, this March, Winamax issued a notice to all its Italian players informing them that their accounts would be closed. Players were also informed that the lack of supportive legislation had led to the closure of the operation, with immediate effect, but promised that if the rules were to relax, players would be granted access to the platform again.

New Regulations Disturbing European Gambling Industry

888-holdingsThe new regulations that are likely to be become operational this financial year are creating havoc in the online gambling industry of Europe. Recently 888 Holdings of Britain, which was in discussion with another European bookmaker firm William Hill for a takeover said that the deal was called-off after one of their key shareholders did not agree to the price given by the suitor. Other interesting deals under discussion in the gambling market are Digital Entertainment, Amaya Gaming Group and Poker Stars. A few European nations are changing their gambling regulations to remove ambiguity about gambling in low tax locations like Gibraltar, Isle of Man and other small islands in the area.

Deal makers in gambling industry

Casino EuThe government of Britain has stated that henceforth all operators will have to get licenses of operation and even online gambling firms which are located offshore but earn revenues from British residents have to pay taxes. The new “digital tax” is likely to hit revenues of all online gambling firms across Europe quite hard. These small online gambling firms have spent heavily on marketing their games which can be downloaded across smartphones, tablets and PC’s. Bwin, which is desperately looking for buyers due to losses of $ 8.4 million in 2014 had breakdown in discussion with several prospective buyers like RisingTideGames and iMesh as new taxes would reduce revenue and cash flow.

Bleak outlook for online gambling operators in Europe

Following rumours of the breakdown in talks of Bwin, its shares fell sharply. This incident and the talks of Amaya planning to buy PokerStars (world’s largest online poker operator) is compounding the fear of already jittery industry plagued by rising taxes and licensing regulations. Existing players are not keen to give up as the online gambling industry for casual casino like games is rising steadily even though some of them do not give out real cash though players need to pay out real cash to play. For large companies well entrenched in social gambling media, this new regulation will provide opportunity to increase revenue and also provide clarity of operations.

Busted in Blackjack by a German Court

BlackjackBlackjack consistently remains popular among gamblers. It’s easy to learn, and you can even learn how to beat the system. Unfortunately, it can also get you trouble. This recently happened to a German man. A district court in the German city of Munich found a man guilty of participating in unlicensed public games of chance by playing blackjack over the internet. The court levied a fine against the man and confiscated his winnings.

Interestingly, the man’s trouble with the courts had nothing to do with his blackjack abilities. He wasn’t cheating. The issue was Germans can only gamble on websites licensed with the German government. The website the German man was using was located in the United Kingdom and was not licensed in Germany. The German court fined the man EUR 2,100 and took away the money stashed in his attic that came from his winnings on the unlicensed website.

blackjackThe man was caught gambling on the unlicensed website in 2011. After his sentence was handed down in September 2014, the man filed an appeal. The appeal has caught public attention. The case poses if people can really be held accountable to screens full of fine print few people read. The court says the man is guilty because the fine print in the terms of service on the gambling site mentions gambling could be illegal. The court decided the man was responsible for discovering if the website was legal or not in his own home country of Germany. The appeal is arguing the fine print is too nuanced and hidden for the average consumer to understand.

The case raises important questions about terms of services on websites. It certainly may make people think twice before clicking terms of service without reading them completely.

UK Gambling Commission Publishes Market Statistics

The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has published the latest industry figures and the numbers look promising. The statistics have been posted for five years from the time period from April 2009 to March 2014. It has also posted provisional figures for April 2013 to March 2014 business year.

The numbers and figures

lotteryAs per the numbers, the gambling industry in Britain has been growing steadily and did a business of £6.8bn last year. The number shows a growth of 6 percent compared to previous business year’s yields.

Casino business with remote betting and bingo have shown the most growth with 15 percent growth over last year. Betting, arcade games and society lotteries have also shown growth. Betting shops are also doing good business as per the report. However, the employment figures in the industry have shown a drop from the previous year. Where the industry employed more than 100,000 people last year, this year’s number show a decrease by some 5000. This is also the first report by UKGC where numbers from National Lottery are also mentioned.

The job of the Gambling Commission

UK Gambling CommissionUKGC regulates all gambling operations in the UK along with other co-regulators. The Commission is tasked with job of ensuring fair betting practices and to keep criminal betting activities under control. The UKGC also makes sure that children and other people are safe from unfair or harmful gambling practices. The Commission also helps the government with all aspects of the gambling business by providing information and advice.

The Commission also regulates gambling and licensing in the UK along with local authorities. In November 2014, there was a new gambling act introduced and now the rules are that all gambling businesses in the UK must obtain their licenses by the UKGC. They also need to provide profit and loss figures to the Commission and the same would be published along with all the other statistics.

This move to publish all reports and to also publish another version of the report in Excel has been made so that more transparency can be brought to the gambling business.

A Rough Transition – Problems for PokerStars UK

pokerstars_online-pokerWhen new regulatory changes were introduced this month in the United Kingdom, PokerStars was prepared to move into an exciting future for its British customers. Unfortunately, that transition did not go as smoothly as was hoped, and now the world’s largest online poker company is scrambling to recover and regain the trust of their British audience.

After the UK Gambling (Licensing and Advertising) Act went into effect on November 1st, PokerStars was forced to acquire a British gaming license. While this transition shouldn’t have caused any problems in the competitive experience for British poker players, the transition was not nearly as smooth as promised.

PokerStars-UKThe trouble began when PokerStars announced that the new British tax laws would require a corresponding increase in rake. This meant more money out of the pockets of British players simply to play the game, and it also meant a decrease in loyalty rewards that are typically offered to frequent players. Unfortunately for players, PokerStars has such a large share of the market that there are very few available options, forcing any who wanted to stay in action to deal with the new rake and rewards scheme.

While British players were frustrated but willing to deal with the changes, the interruption in service that followed pushed many to the limits of frustration. After transitioning to the new server on November 8th, many UK PokerStars users found themselves restricted from entering games, with an error message informing them that they may be permanently unable to play. This led to a great deal of worry throughout the poker community, and while it was eventually resolved and revealed as merely an error in the transition, the damage may already be done. Formerly loyal PokerStars players are now looking for new locations for action, and PokerStars is scrambling to recover.

High Court Rejects GBGA Legal Challenge over UK Gambling Law

The High Court recently rejected Gibraltar Betting and Gaming Association’s (GBGA) legal challenge with regards to the latest Gambling Act 2014 in the United Kingdom. Last month, the UK Department for Culture, Media and Sport announced that the latest licensing system ‘Point of Consumption’, which was supposed to be implemented from October 1, would have to be delayed owing to the appeal.

GBGA

The legal challenge was started by GBGA in the month of August after labelling the terms and policies of the UK Gambling Commission as ‘unlawful’. It also complained that the system was ‘discriminatory’, ‘illegitimate’ and ‘disproportionate’. However, the last hearing in the High Court suggested that the system would be ready to be implemented in the United Kingdom from November 1, 2014.

Effective implementation from November 1

gambling_poker-chipsJustice Green’s decision gives a clear idea about UK’s plans to effectively implement the modifications under the Gambling Act from November 1. The date for its implementation has already been pushed back and delayed by one month in the process of adjudication of the GBGA challenge.

Some of the most crucial elements of the modifications being introduced under the Gambling Act include legal licensing for United Kingdom facing operators. It is required that legal and synchronized services be offered by licensed operators in some major international administrations or jurisdictions. The most important element among the modifications is that a 15 percent tax with regards to “point of consumption” would be applicable to all the gambling deals that involve those who bet from the UK, irrespective of the location of the online gambling company.

Preventing tax loss

One of the hopes from the latest regulatory modifications is the hope of sending back home tax income, which was lost when several dozen gambling firms in the UK shifted their corporate operations in the last decade to Gibraltar. Almost 55 percent of all the gambling transactions in the United Kingdom are now executed by online sites based in Gibraltar. Owing to the tax-friendly licensing rule in Gibraltar, the firms could carry out their operations in a virtually tax-free environment.

Update on Phil Ivey’s Baccarat/Punto Banco Lawsuits

In October of 2012, superstar poker pro Phil Ivey went on a rampage playing Punto Banco at the Crockfords Casino in the UK and baccarat at the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in New Jersey. While both sessions netted Ivey huge winnings (£7.8 million at Crockfords, $9.6 million at Borgata), both sessions also netted Ivey lawsuits.

Basis for Lawsuits
puntobanco_phil iveyIn both cases, Ivey was accused of “edge-sorting”. Edge-sorting is paramount with card counting, except it is done by recognizing a printing pattern on the back of the playing cards as the come out of an automated sorter/dealer. Those imperfections can give away the value of at least some of the cards. In both situations, the casinos claim Ivey was aware of a printing error committed by the playing card manufacturers. It is important to note that edge-sorting is not illegal, it is only grounds to be banned because of unfair play.

Filing of the Crockfords Lawsuit
In the UK, Crockfords Casino withheld his winnings pending investigation. When the funds were held for an extended period of time, Ivey filed suit against the casino claiming they had no legal basis to withhold his winnings. He even admitted to edge-sorting, but stated it was the casino’s fault they didn’t recognize the flaw themselves and that he violated no laws by taking advantage of the opportunity. As of September 2014, the lawsuit is still pending.

crockfords-hotel-and-casino

Filing of the Borgata Lawsuit
In 2013, Borgata Casino filed suit against Ivey making the claim of unfair play. He had already cashed out and the casino wants its money back. In July 2014, Ivey’s attorney filed a “motion to dismiss” the suit, claiming Ivey won on “sheer skill.” As of late September 2014, neither the original suit nor the motion to dismiss had been heard in District Court.

Regardless of the outcome, casinos and players alike will be watching for a decision on both continents. With such a high-profile situation, the outcome is sure to set a precedent for future issues related to players using questionable methods to even the playing field.