Archive for the ‘Regulation’ Category

Online Gambling Grows in Philippines, but is it on Steady Ground?

Saturday, August 26th, 2017


Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s shocking reversal on his crack-down against online gambling in favor of a much more lenient regulation and taxation policy, makes one wonder that if there was a way for him to make legal money off of meth-addicted drug addicts, his “values” driven killing spree would screech to a halt.

The shift from last summer, when Duterte seemed willing to lump online gaming business owners into the same pile as the rest of the “enemies of the state” he’s targeted, to now when he spoke recently about how the best course of action was to “tax them” rather “than fight them” has been astounding and has cemented his reputation for being unpredictable.

Many argue that it was not because “you can’t stop them”, as Duterte stated, but because he realized what a financial blow it would be if he continued on his tirade against the online gambling industry within the Philippines. Not only that, but President Duterte has seemed to lock in on the potential to grow the industry even more in the area of regulating online casinos that only cater to non-Filipinos. In a single year the Philippines has registered and licensed 45 such online gambling companies and collected $58 million in taxes. This is at a rate of ten percent what the industry accumulates in revenue.

Even the Filipino real estate industry has received a boon due to President Duterte’s change of heart. In the first half of the year, online casino companies accounted for 30% of the office space being rented in Manila during that time, and in the second half that percentage doubled to 60% of all the new leases being signed. And it is reported that this year many developers will have rented 90 percent of their stock, which in turn, has begun to see an uptick in residential properties sales as well.

Even the Philippine stock market has seemed to buoy with the burgeoning of this newly “in favor” industry. But as many in the online gaming industry can attest, markets and governing bodies can be fickle and Duterte has already proven his volatility. The rug could easily be pulled out from beneath this quickly growing cottage industry taking formation around the relative acceptance of online gambling by the Duterte administration.

Illinois Online Gambling Gets Fighting Chance

Sunday, August 20th, 2017

Daily Fantasy Sports have existed in a floated in a legal limbo in Illinois ever since the state’s Attorney General Lisa Madigan penned in 2015 that the popular pastime was illegal in her opinion. She wrote, “ Absent legislation specifically exempting daily fantasy sports contests from the gambling provisions, it is my opinion that daily fantasy sports contests constitute illegal gambling under Illinois law.”

Representative Michael Zalewski, a vocal proponent for online betting and daily fantasy sports, was not deterred by the Attorney General’s less than enthusiastic assessment. He issued a statement thanking Madigan for her clarity and expressed his intention to continue finding a way to bring regulated online gambling to Illinois.

“Now that we have more clarity, I look forward to working with all involved in the upcoming legislative session to allow Illinoisans to continue to play these contests and provide the necessary strong consumer protections for safe, fun play.”

Zalewski kept his word and introduced a piece of legislation that would legalize online gambling, and in turn, fantasy sports, by proposing rigorous regulation of the industry within the state. The bill passed the Senate easily, but became stymied shortly thereafter in the House. But ever the determined optimist, Representative Zalewski has become more focused on the necessity of convincing Illinois’ land based casino’s that they could also benefit from the legalization of online gaming. “I’ve come to the conclusion this needs to be a collaborative approach.”

The shift in favor by the state’s land based casinos could help the House’s committee move toward a more supportive position on online gambling and internet betting, which would then allow the increasingly popular pastime of fantasy sports betting to gain legal standing. The Illinois state House is expected to move toward considering the legislation this November or possibly early 2018.

Illinois now stands to be in an undeclared race with Pennsylvania to be the first of the two to legalize online gambling next. Both states are primed with a track record of kicking the can down the road when it comes to the potential of utilizing the tax potential of regulating online gambling. When it come to the future of daily fantasy sports and internet wagering, only time will tell.

Christie Writes Resolution in Hopes to Protect NJ Online Gambling

Friday, July 28th, 2017

Chris Christie contemplating online gambling
Remember when Donald Trump and Chris Christie were bros? You know, right after they tore each other apart during the Republican presidential primary race? It was a brief and passionate stint during the lead up to Donald Trump choosing his Cabinet and White House administration. Chris Christie became one of his fan-boys, one could assume, in order to flatter his way into the White House. Unfortunately for Christie, the sacrifice in self-respect did not seem to pay off, and he was left out in the cold.

Christie found himself right at home with other New Jersey residents who thought Donald Trump had their back, only to end up sad and lonely on the Atlantic City boardwalk. Chris Christie then returned to his post as New Jersey Governor.

Since that time Christie has not made it easier for himself to win back the hearts and minds of New Jersey residents who were appalled by his willingness to fall in line with the ‘Trump Train’ in order to serve his own political aspirations. He was caught taking his family to a beach on Fourth of July that had been closed because of a state government shut down – only the government was back up and running at that point. He had them keep the beach closed so he and his family could enjoy a private beach. Nothing like celebrating Fourth of July without all of those pesky constituents that you represent.

After such a cataclysmic PR debacle, Christie’s approval rating bottomed out in the Garden State. Now he finds himself faced with the task of protecting the state’s online gaming industry from a president that some assumed would have had a more favorable view of online gambling, given his own foray in the casino industry. But as we know, opening a land based casino does not necessarily make you a proponent for online casinos.

Donald Trump’s ties to Sheldon Adelson and to Jeff Sessions began to worry Christie that the president may begin to consider a federal ban on online gambling, which would gravely affect New Jersey’s tax revenue and the economic climate of Atlantic City. In an attempt to use whatever meager sway he may have had on the Forty-fifth president, Chris Christie issued a resolution to the administration and to Congress, imploring them to abandon any plan to ban online gambling on a federal level. He cited the negative impact it would have on his state of New Jersey:

“A federal prohibition against Internet gaming would directly and negatively impact New Jersey by dismantling the investments that the State and Atlantic City casinos have already made to implement and regulate Internet gaming, taking away the economic and employment opportunities already realized by the State and its residents, and foreclosing the future potential of Internet gaming to generate tens of millions of dollars in tax revenue, create high-tech software jobs, and foster valuable business ventures for Atlantic City casinos in this State.”

Considering their track record, it remains to be seen if such an appeal from Chris Christie will have a positive sway on the infamously unpredictable President Trump.

MGM Supports New York Online Gambling Market

Monday, December 1st, 2014

While New York has been on the cusp of legalizing various forms of online casino gambling, and has been one of a handful of states that industry insiders believe will be the next to go live with real money wagering online, the fact of the matter is that the fuel supporting the latest push for legalization in the Empire State is coming from out West.

Let NY Play, is the latest proponent slogan for iGaming in New York. Social media outlets have been fanning the flames through this organization, which is actually coming from none other than MGM Resorts International. MGM is a huge gaming brand based in Las Vegas, Nevada.

So then why all the backing from a casino brand that doesn’t even have a land-based property or a stake in New York?

Well, New York is getting ready to move forward with granting four different licenses to develop online outlets, and while MGM is interested, it has no hand in the game other than possible future interests. MGM has lobbied in the state of New York before – specifically in support of the legalization of online poker.

While Let NY Play is gaining social interest online, MGM surely cannot be embracing the idea that New York will generate enough revenue from the get-go to stimulate the expansion of online gambling a la New Jersey, which is still struggling to generate increased online wagering income even though there are more than a dozen online casinos there.

But wait, in New York it’s about poker specifically. New York is a state that loves poker. MGM knows that New York residents bet as much as $110 million in non-regulated online poker activity. Further believing that NY could generate between $50-80 million in revenue each year, MGM may have designs on the future indeed. This estimate does not consider additional revenue the state would gain from the licensing process itself.

Still, is there something else propelling MGM in its support of NY so much? NY’s neighbor, New Jersey, has come nowhere near earning the revenue it originally predicted it would when gambling online went live over a year ago.

Needless to say, MGM officials are taking the “slow and steady” road, and believe that while there has been a slow start to the industry, the tables will turn eventually. After all, there are online casinos that are not based in the US still taking wagers from US players, and thereby cutting into the market.

Interest by many offshore and European online poker giants to move back into the US market may be the solution to the needed income. But the question remains whether or not US markets such as NY are ready to grant permission for the world’s most successful online poker brands to move in.

The fact that MGM owns half of the Borgata, which hosts the most popular online casino in New Jersey at this time, may be another factor. Perhaps MGM will go live via the Borgata, creating a site related to its New Jersey destination. There are rumblings in the industry that this is a possible outcome in the near future, but New Jersey is not New York.

Whatever MGM’s motives may be entirely, the state of New York is on the verge of legalization, indeed. As casino licensing gets underway, there are sure to be further developments regarding MGM’s support of online poker in New York. Time will tell what they are.

New Jersey to Regulate Skill Based Games

Tuesday, October 28th, 2014

In a move to boost online casino revenue, the NJ Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) is now taking applications from casino operators seeking skill-based provisions. This new decision comes even with less regulative standards (relatively speaking), while the processing of applications is to be done faster in order to meet the needs that the DGE is conveying in order to get the ball rolling. New Jersey regulators and operators alike have sought ways to integrate new advancements in gaming technology into the regulated market.

The massive popularity of online skill-based casino games calls for demand. Meeting this demand, the DGE is clearly willing to get in on the action more sooner than later. Skill-based casino games – wherein players are able to be engaged and socialize with one another – have become very popular. And it’s the software companies that should be thanked for the new technology-oriented generation of online gambling fans who are looking to wager more because the games are the most realistic they’ve ever been.

The new announcement coming from the DGE is of particular interest in the fact New Jersey regulators will be better prepared to process new skill based gambling online applications, thus ensuring operators faster results when seeking a license of this kind.

Currently in New Jersey, skill games fall under a New Jersey statute – that if approved – would permit casinos to launch their new platform games within two weeks. This is an impressive detail and one of great interest to entice current online casinos in the state to provide games with better odds. This speed of approval will make the state of New Jersey the absolute fastest processing of its kind in the US to market online gaming platforms of skill.

In essence, this new development is a ringing dinner bell for all online casinos to come forward with new skill based offerings for players, knowing the state will eagerly work with them.

While this is a great way to increase internet gambling revenue in New Jersey (perhaps a way to boost lagging income from less than impressive results in the nearly one year since gambling online became regulated in New Jersey), this type of enticement and speedy licensure for skill based games will be met with some resistance, as online casinos are typically more in favor of launching games with less favorable odds. However, new technology making skill based games very attractive to consumers demands results. The timing here is good.

Non real money wagering games are also part of the reason as to why casino games of skill with real money have become so popular. The social component of skill based games that are not being wagered with real money (yet), like Candy Crush and Words With Friends, is very helpful to the rise of online casinos providing more skill based. New Jersey seems to be responding to the trend of skill based popularity quickly. Other markets in the US should, too.

Applications are now being accepted. As such, games of skill could be launching at various New Jersey online casinos by early November.

Betfair Gets Six Month Extension in NJ

Friday, October 10th, 2014

New Jersey online gambling regulators have share some developments that will keep Betfair in the fold for at least another six months. Together, Betfair and Caesars Entertainment have reached a deal that will keep the online casino software company running in the Garden State for another half year or more. The deal has already been accepted by the New Jersey Department of Gaming Enforcement.

Just under a month ago, when Trump Plaza – Betfair’s brick ’n mortar partner for online casino wagering, closed up in Atlantic City – it was largely thought that Betfair would set up shop through another Trump property in Atlantic City – the Trump Taj Mahal. After all, both properties are owned by the Trump Entertainment Resorts. Betfair even had backend facilities for online wagering set up at the Taj Mahal.

Not so fast was the case, as Trump Entertainment resorts itself went under last month. Alas, Betfair has had its eye on the ball ever since learning of potential bankruptcies with the Trump casino brand. Within a few days of that news, Betfair was dealing with Caesars.

Because licensed software providers are required to work with one of Atlantic City’s land based casinos to legally operate online sites taking real money wagers in New Jersey and because so many casino properties in Atlantic City are already online with software brands, the need to find a new home could have been a bit dicey for Betfair.

The Department of Gaming Enforcement permitted Betfair to keep a license to operate for a short period of time while seeking out a new partnership. The new deal with Caesars will give Betfair some time to work out a longterm plan for its future in the largest online casino market the US currently has to offer.

The approved extension allows Betfair to run online from Bally’s Atlantic City, which is a well known Caesars sub-brand.

Betfair is based in the UK and is a long standing, yet somewhat beleaguered brand (as of late). The UK holds one of the most highly regulated and largest online gambling markets in the world. Interestingly enough, Betfair has had its share of battles regarding revenue generation in the steady but not entirely growing New Jersey market. A partnership with an aging Trump casino brand was probably not the best situation for the brand.

This could all change if Caesars takes the brand to its consumers with a fresh, new marketing strategy. After all, Caesars online casinos are the most successful thus far in New Jersey. BetfairCasino.com brought in a mere 7% of the overall New Jersey online gambling revenue just two months ago in August, which lands at a few thousand dollars over $700,000. It’s safe to say that the online gambling industry in NJ did not save the Trump properties in its last ditch chance to stay afloat.

Betfair’s Ultimate Gaming withdrew from New Jersey previously after the fledgling Trump brand had little ability to promote it in the manner that other operators were marketing their casinos online.

Another thing to consider is Betfair’s online poker site, which is another struggling site that even uses competing software – Ongame – with Caesars own poker room. Caesars powers its more successful WSOP.com poker room using 888 software.

Will Caesars move forward with two rooms using two different software platforms? That’s anyone’s guess, as the industry waits to see how the Caesars brand actually serves it to the market, perhaps in another, more successful way.

Poker Stars and Full Tilt Leave Markets

Wednesday, September 24th, 2014

With there being no real secret to the agenda regarding the world’s most (in)famous online poker brand’s desire to relaunch in several legitimate online gambling markets, namely the UK and US, PokerStars has begun to remove itself from questionable markets that may prohibit it from becoming part of the UK and US iGaming regimes.

The markets affected by this new move are of relative obscurity, including a handful of countries in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. These areas of the world have casinos online, but are considered to be grey markets, and thus, not as reputable as markets like that of the UK.

After it was announced that PokerStars would be asking players to close accounts in countries such as Bangladesh, Iran, Iraq, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, North Korea, Nigeria Malaysia, and Turkey, executives at the company issued a statement asking that existing players in these markets cash out and close their accounts “at their convenience,” and to take advantage of any upcoming tournament entries and Frequent Player Points before making a final withdrawal. This new move out of unsavory markets for PokerStars is an important one that comes at a crucial juncture in the UK market, as the impending UK Gambling Act (Licensing and Advertising) expected to go into effect next month requires that any online operator intending to seek a remote gambling license does not receive more than 3% of its gaming revenues from unlicensed markets.

The UK casino market online is one of the largest and most lucrative in the world, generating about £2.5 billion ($4.26 billion US) in yearly revenue, with £329 million ($559 million US) of that income generated by online poker. Needless to say, this is the online poker market to go after for PokerStars.

Amaya Gaming purchased PokerStars months back with the plan to give the brand a new image and draw attention aways from its rocky beginnings of taking wagers from illegal markets in the past. The US market was very lucrative for the online poker giant until the Department of Justice targeted its operations, charging the brand with unlawful dealings i.e. taking real money wagers from US players.

PokerStars is undisputedly the largest online poker hub in the world, with a player pool unrivaled. Since Amaya bought the company, it has launched a full-fledged marketing campaign to make the poker site legitimate in the eyes of major regulated markets. With the UK market a big possibility – and very soon at that – industry insiders are speculating as to whether the PokerStars name will make its way back into the US market now that Amaya, one of the most highly respected casino operators in the world, has taken the reigns.

One notable country that PokerStars did not remove itself from in this new announcement was Canada, where several well-known operators such as Betfred, Ladbrokes, Matchbook, and EuroPartners have recently stopped taking wagers. Since Amaya is a Canadian company with a listing on the Toronto Stock Exchange, this should come as no surprise that the two top poker brands are staying put in Canada.

California Online Poker Progress On Hold

Wednesday, September 10th, 2014

After a 5-year continuation of one unsuccessful attempt after another to legalize online poker in California – the once considered most favorable state to enter the online gambling market in the US – proponents are once again scratching their collective heads wondering when and if.

One of two bills that have been created in an effort to legalize online poker play in California was put on hold recently, with several lawmakers taking the position there was not enough time left before the current 2014 legislative session to make changes to the law and add further meticulous standards required to get the bill passed successfully through the House.

The delayed bill, SB 1366, was drafted by Senator Lou Correa, who happens to be the chairman of the Senate Governmental Organization Committee (the same committee that oversees gambling in the State), has seen a tough battle in regards to interstate compacts and tribal casinos.

AB 2291 is the other bill, and us widely considered by industry insiders as an answer to most everything that initial goals failed to use in persuading a positive outcome from the get-go. It seeks to permit and regulate online poker legislation, and is currently waiting a hearing date.

Three US states are already live with websites offering a variety of online casino games. California is seeking online poker legislature only at this point. California was initially considered to be one of the top three states to legislate, yet roadblocks from tribal communities looking to stave off land-based gaming failure should online casinos become legal, as well as disagreements over interstate game play, have gotten in the way of any legislative success at this time. Now we wait once again.

Still, there is room for optimism, as there are several lawmakers in favor of online poker. But whether they will get a bill passed before succumbing to opposition and political pressure from the other side of the house floor is of some concern.

The bottom line is that the main failure in getting a bill passed stems from various arguments over specifics in the two existing bills. Lingering issues between lawmakers and several casinos and poker sites that operated within California before authorities cracked down on them remain. Bad actor clauses are being considered to ensure sites that operated improperly before the crackdown are not permitted to legally operate in the state, and is creating a lot of argument.

California’s tribal casinos are the other main roadblock. There are dozens of land-based tribal casinos in the state of California which provide all the gambling services available in the state. Understandably, they are very concerned that online poker sites will greatly affect the revenue generated at these brick ‘n mortar casinos.

Earlier in this year, the outcome of a bill getting passed seemed very probable. Then, waning income and less-than-stellar earnings from existing online casinos in the US led to a slower urgency to get a bill passed. While in wait, California lawmakers will certainly be keeping close tabs on the online casino operators in the three states where online gambling is regulated. We are likely looking to the very beginning of 2015 before any bill could get a casino online in California.

California Delays Online Poker Bill

Wednesday, August 20th, 2014

After a laborious 5 year span of trying to execute an effective bill to legalize online poker in California, it seems as though another year will slip on by until we see another attempt.

Many industry insiders would argue that it was largely expected that online poker would have a good future with seemingly swift legislature after the US government decided to leave the decision up to individual states for regulation of various forms of online gambling activity. Yet, it all seems practically lost, as attempt after attempt has been unsuccessful to bring forth a viable bill legalizing poker online in California.

Just last week, California lawmakers involved in getting poker legalized online came to the decision that bills in favor of legislation will have to wait it out again. California Senator Lou Correa actually vacated his current bill, SB 1366 altogether, and Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer has postponed his bill, AB 2291, for the time being.

When various states initially lined up in favor of online wagering activity after being given the green light to legislate, all eyes were on Nevada and its neighbor California, where many gaming insiders believed a business deal largely known as an interstate compact would be created without much delay. California was never in favor of legislating non-skill based games, but a deal to pool poker players from each state would have created extra revenue and make both parties happy.

In the timeline since initial buzz was created and several bills were put forth in California to get the ball rolling, many key topics have caused snags in the plan of California going ahead with online poker legislation. The future in California now depends upon the ability for lawmakers to iron out the hurdles at hand. The next time any possible advancement could take place is now December 2014, effectively making 2015 the next possible year to place any poker wagers online in California.

According to Jones-Sawyer, who is now effectively left holding the bag, the ultimate issue behind the bill’s shelving was that there was no longer enough time in this session to work out the language issue with the bills. He stated that he will have a new bill on the floor in December, essentially giving all stakeholders an additional five months to reflect. Others would say this is a calculated delay by proponents themselves.

There is heavy tribal involvement in the state of California, and it’s is widely expected that tribes will also use this extra delay as time to watch the Amaya deal unfold and learn a thing or two. Watching Amaya’s dealings within the New Jersey online gambling market will be a wise move as it could reveal important information regarding the outcome of PokerStars’ attempt at reentry into the US market via Amaya, which is wrapping up purchase of the largest online poker brand’s parent company.

Also at hand, and referring back to language issues, horse racetracks are involved in the proposed legislature in California. There is a potential for time-consuming legal challenges that could cause further delay with any online casino, gambling or poker legislature should the tracks not be included in the ability to join the market for online gambling in California.

Its is also expected that racing involvement – not necessarily wagering on races – but taking poker bets at tracks online, or any other aspect for that matter, would increase competition; But a racetrack’s overall effect on the market would be meager should PokerStars make its way back into the US fold. If a PokerStars deal is struck, a racetrack deal would inevitably materialize – sooner than later, too.

Until December, we’ll be watching the outcome of PokerStars via Amaya.

EU Looks to Scrutinize Online Gambling Laws

Wednesday, July 16th, 2014

european-union-countries-mapThis week, the European Union (EU) announced that it would focus on imposing stricter online gambling rules within the burgeoning online casino industry. The new focus will target underage gambling throughout the wide ranging and successful European online gaming market.
There are currently several online casino gambling markets throughout Europe and most certainly more to come. In an effort to ensure safety and fair play for all markets in this huge but fragmented market, a new look at laws will continue to regulate the exploding market.

In Europe, most any and all forms of gambling are available – from poker to sports wagering and everything in between. The worldwide online gambling market is soaring, with Europe being one the most successful. EU findings show that in 2012 alone, 7 million Europeans gambled for real money at online casinos where wagering is regulated throughout the region. 7 million players equates to about 45% of the worldwide internet gaming market. It is also reported widely that the worldwide online market raked in $33 billion (24 billion Euros) in 2012.

Regulated online gambling took off throughout Europe, after countries such as Malta and Britain helped paved the way. Other countries, such as the Netherlands and France, did not jump onboard right away, but pressure by demand forced these country’s to open up to the concept and liberalize their markets, although at varying levels.

In this week’s EU announcement, an EU spokesperson stated that it seeks to “better protect all citizens, and in particular, our children from the risks associated with gambling”. The EU is calling on all European online casino markets to match its enthusiasm in protecting consumers. This includes casinos themselves. Seeking to scrutinize laws to better convey an utmost level of protection for players throughout the EU in an era of digital advancement is the EU’s heightened goal.

The new plan is to guarantee that online casinos be the most transparent in all ways, including clearer warnings on casino websites, more thorough registration requirements to better eliminate underage gambling online, and further develop effective forms of support for addiction. The EU is also looking to curtail advertising of online casino sites and make sure ads are also free of pressure to wager and honest about odds.

The European gambling industry is looking for better uniformity in general, and this new focus on gambling in Europe should be well received. Here at OnlineCasinoSuite, we have to agree. As a site designed to advocate the safest, most reputable casinos online, consumers certainly ought to have the best protection throughout the EU and beyond. An EU-wide enforcement level for online gaming is evidently necessary just as it is in the US. That said, perhaps the US will take note and begin a nationwide form of regulation as it sees the European market trying to join in a blanketed form of regulation. Like in the US (and throughout Europe), gambling online is a heated issue. The fine line between being a source of state revenue and the potential cause of harm is easily crossed by many.

Interestingly enough, the EU said it decided to draft recommendations, versus outright legislation, as the latter takes too long and easily lacks being a sure thing. With several European countries in the process of creating national legislation, the EU recommendations can be used as assistance.