AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to FacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitter The first game from Canadian studio PearFiction, Gustavo El Luchador tells a Mexican underdog story through unique slot mechanics that go right to the ring. Unlike other lucha-themed games, Gustavo centres on high-flying, high-stakes combat; in free spins, players match special symbols to pit their best wrestling moves against an eccentric cast of characters. A 3×5 slot with a pick-me bonus game, a compelling paytable, and an unlikely protagonist, Gustavo is now live with Leander. Topics: Casino & games Slots The first game from Canadian studio PearFiction, Gustavo El Luchador tells a Mexican underdog story through unique slot mechanics that go right to the ring. Unlike other lucha-themed games, Gustavo centres on high-flying, high-stakes combat; in free spins, players match special symbols to pit their best wrestling moves against an eccentric cast of characters. A 3×5 slot with a pick-me bonus game, a compelling paytable, and an unlikely protagonist, Gustavo is now live with Leander.Find out more here.About PearFiction:PearFiction Studios is a privately-owned company located in Montreal, Canada. The company develops and licenses games for the regulated online gaming industry. Its development team designs and implements engaging and innovative online casino games. From concepts, gameplay, math models, artwork, animations, to music, sounds, and programming, they do it all. The company also works with licensed Casino Operators, Integration Partners, and other Game Developers to build exclusive custom games. Gustavo El Luchador – a love letter to lucha libre Subscribe to the iGaming newsletter 25th May 2018 | By Louella Hughes Casino & games Email Address
KamaGames partners with “The Yogscast” AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to FacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitter 31st May 2018 | By Stephen Carter Topics: Casino & games Marketing & affiliates Social gaming Pokerist developer targeting “signficant and rapid growth” through partnership with Twitch and YouTube publishers of gaming-related content Email Address Subscribe to the iGaming newsletter Social mobile poker operator KamaGames has inked a partnership with games media company the Yogscast to sponsor six episodes of the Yogscast Poker Nights show.The first episode will be broadcast on Twitch.TV at 17:00 on 6 June, 2018, with all episodes being made available on-demand on the Yogscast’s Games Night YouTube channel.KamaGames’ director of global communications & content, Sam Forrest, told iGB that while it was now an ongoing challenge “to grow our audience and our KPIs for ARRPU and DAU” given the social poker space was now quite established, they had found “significant and rapid growth through sponsorships and partnerships such as this.” Forrest said the product was well positioned to benefit from the Yogscast Poker Nights being viewed by a less seasoned poker playing audience than the Poker Night In America TV show they partnered with last year.“We are working with the team at The Yogscast to show that Pokerist is not just for seasoned players but that it is also a great way to learn one of the classic card games and have a lot fun doing it.” The impact of the Twitch/YouTube partnership would be measured by “using a dedicated, trackable link that will be used throughout all of the promotions on The Yogscast’s various social channels and also during the 3 hour Twitch.TV live stream itself. This means we can see the impact on audience numbers ‘live’ in the regions the show is appearing in.“Viewers would also be encouraged to download the app through links in the Twitch chat section, by being called out by the presenters themselves and with the link appearing as screen overlays too. We’ll also be branding the actual table The Yogscast team are playing on.”The Yogscast’s chief revenue officer, Rich Keith, added, “The Yogscast Poker Nights have been hugely popular with our audience, both as live experiences on Twitch and through video-on-demand on YouTube.“As they take a lot of time and additional investment to produce our partnership with KamaGames means we’re able to extend the amount of Poker Nights we’re able to produce so it goes from a one-off to a proper series of matches.”Dublin-headquartered KamaGames recently broke into Eilers and Krejcik Gaming’s top 15 publishers in Q1, posting a 40.5% year on year increase in revenues on the back of a 63.4% year-on-year increase in annual revenues to $57.5m in 2017.The Pokerist Texas Poker app accounts for approximately 75% of the company’s revenues, with the publisher’s blackjackist, roulettist and slots apps driving the remainder. Casino & games
Regions: US Mississippi William Hill USA and SBTech were awarded licences yesterday (Thursday) to manufacture and distribute sports betting platforms in Mississippi, iGamingBusiness.com has learned.Mississippi Gaming Commission deputy director Jay McDaniel told iGamingBusiness.com that the companies will be able to provide odds and risk-management services in the state, with casinos operating the sportsbooks.McDaniel also said he understood that William Hill USA is supporting the launch of sportsbooks at five casinos operated by Penn National Gaming in the state this month, with two of the venues set to accept sports wagers from today (Friday).Penn announced yesterday that its Hollywood Casino Gulf Coast and Boomtown Biloxi casinos were set to launch “state-of-the-art sportsbooks” today, with Hollywood Casino Tunica, 1st Jackpot Casino Tunica and Resorts Casino Tunica expected to follow suit on August 24. Penn operates 28 casinos in 16 US states and also offers social online gaming through its Penn Interactive Ventures division.Penn chief executive Timothy Wilmott said that customers’ interest in sports wagering in Mississippi “has been growing since the federal ban on sports betting was repealed in May”.Justin Carter, Penn National Gaming’s general manager in Tunica, said that college sports would be a particular area of interest for local punters.“Every time I step on the gaming floor a customer approaches me about sports betting,” he said. “With the extreme passion in the region around sports, and college athletics in particular, we look forward to becoming a destination for fans in northern Mississippi, Memphis, and Arkansas.”Earlier this month, reports emerged in the UK media that William Hill had opened talks with Penn National Gaming over a possible joint venture to roll out sports betting services across the US. Email Address William Hill and SBTech seal Mississippi licences Topics: Casino & games Sports betting Tech & innovation Casino & games AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to FacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitter 20th August 2018 | By contenteditor Companies secure sports betting platform licences, with Hills to support Penn National casinos Subscribe to the iGaming newsletter
14th September 2018 | By contenteditor Regions: US Pennsylvania Pennsylvania iGaming applicants set to face luck of the draw Email Address Subscribe to the iGaming newsletter Pennsylvania will open up online wagering with a “co-ordinated launch” that could come before the end of this year, although out-of-state iGaming licence applicants may have to rely on the luck of the draw to break into the market.The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) – which approved applications from Penn National Gaming’s Hollywood Casino and Rush Street’s SugarHouse Casino earlier this week – have now given so-called Qualified Gaming Entities a window from October 15-31 to apply for a total of seven licences that remain available out of 39.Only two of the state’s 13 casinos – Lady Luck Casino and Meadows Racetrack – did not apply for any of the iGaming licences, while Presque Isle Downs and Casino only applied for slots and table games licences.There are three remaining online poker licences available, as well as two certificates each for online slots and online table games.The licences are available for $4m (£3.1m/€3.4m) – the same price that was offered to the state’s casinos during a 30-day period that followed a first phase in which casinos could have acquired all three licences for $10m. It is understood that one of the state’s casinos, which missed the deadline for the first phase, ended up agreeing to pay $12m for all three licences.Operators that are based outside the US can apply for licences in the window next month and if demand outstrips supply, a random draw will determine the successful applicants.PGCB communications director Doug Harbach told iGamingBusiness.com that the draw process would be “public”, although an exact format has not been decided yet.“Whether it will involve taking names out of a hat or a box, we don’t know yet, but everyone will be able to see what happens,” he said.Harbach, who said there had already been enquiries from firms based outside the state, also said that applicants for all three licences would not necessarily be favoured over those applying for individual licences.Of the 11 casinos to have applied for iGaming licences, five have now been approved, with Penn National Gaming’s Hollywood Casino and Rush Street’s SugarHouse Casino following Harrah’s Casino Philadelphia, Mount Airy Resort Casino and Parx.Harbach said that it is likely that more applications from the state’s casinos will be approved by early October.“There’s still a lot of back-end work to be carried out by casinos and partners and we also have to licence partners of the operators,” Harbach told iGamingBusiness.com, when asked when iGaming would launch fully in the state.“We would like to do some sort of co-ordinated launch. It might not be all of them, but perhaps a batch of them who are ready to go.“We’re probably still at least a couple of months off that, but it is likely to happen if not towards the end of this year, then early next year.”In comparison with some other US states, Pennsylvania has accelerated attempts to exploit gaming opportunities before the end of the year, with Harbach citing a “myriad” of expansion initiatives in the industry, including in sports betting. However, Harbach insisted that such expediency is not at the expense of the due process and rigorous due diligence.“The state decided to expand our current gambling offerings to fill revenue holes and there is an expectation to do this as swiftly as possible,” Harbach said.“We have already secured $110m in iGaming licence fees and we are moving on with sports wagering pretty well.“However, we wouldn’t rush if that meant damaging the integrity of the new gaming market. We’ve always taken our role as protector of the public’s interests as first and foremost.”Image: Santeri Viinamäki Legal & compliance Topics: Legal & compliance Tags: Online Gambling With seven iGaming licences remaining, applicants are set to face a random draw AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to FacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitter
AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to FacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitter A blanket ban on gambling companies sponsoring professional tennis events and restrictions on live streaming and the collection scoring data of lower level competitions are among proposals put forward in a bid to uphold the integrity of the sport.The Independent Review Panel recommends international governing bodies in tennis, and the events they endorse, do no accept any form of sponsorship from the betting industry helping to set an example for players, who are already banned from agreeing such deals.It also sets out proposals to ban live streaming and collecting online scoring data for competitions that offer prize money of up to $15,000 (£11,800/€13,100). This would stop unofficial data being gathered and used for betting purposes, the panel claimed.However, the panel acknowledged that streaming and collecting scoring data is necessary from a developmental point of view. As such, it said streams and data should only be broadcast or made available after a time delay, to prevent its use for in-play betting.The final recommendations differ slightly to those set out in the previous edition of the report in May, which were criticised by some for being too harsh. At that time the panel recommended that the ban on live scoring data apply to all events offering up to $25,000 in prize money.The decision to lower the prize money threshold has been praised by Sportradar, which hit out at some of the proposals put forward in the penultimate report. Sportradar, which currently works with the International Tennis Federation (ITF) as its official data partner, warned that if such rules were to be adopted, they could have a harmful effect on the sport.However, while praising the panel’s decision to alter its approach, Sportradar also warned that the revised proposals were still disproportionate.“A targeted approach should be applied across the whole sport; we have been consistent in our view that the panel invites new risks and problems by recommending a prohibitive approach, when it has not succeeded as an effective regulatory tool in relation to the betting industry anywhere in the world, nor in any other sport,” Sportradar managing director of group operaitons David Lampitt explained. “Adjusting their arbitrary line (between targeted approach and blanket discontinuance) down a level doesn’t stand up to scrutiny.“This is because the measures don’t match the risks; the panel’s approach remains disproportionate,” Lampitt continued. “They now accept a targeted approach as the most effective response for almost every level of tennis, including quite correctly those levels above the ITF that evidence the highest level of risk. It then makes no sense that they have doggedly maintained a solution that is more draconian, expensive, complex and unpredictable for the $15k tournament level that has lower risk.”The panel acknowledged Sportradar’s ongoing relationship with the ITF and how the proposed changes could impact this deal, but recommended the ITF should not enter into any new contract or extend current deals. It also said that tennis’ governing bodies should compensate the organisation for any loss of future revenue.In addition, the final report makes reference to an earlier recommendation for players’ wages, whereby their fees should be published in full. The panel has backtracked on its decision and now stated that a confidential report should instead be sent to the Tennis Integrity Unit (TIU) for examination.The Independent Review of Integrity in Tennis was conducted in the wake of concerns over the level of corruption in professional tennis. The independent review panel was established by tennis’ governing bodies the Association of Tennis Professionals, Women’s Tennis Association, Grand Slam Board and ITF in 2016 to assess ways to better uphold sporting integrity across all competitions. The December report is the last instalment of a series produced in response to a joint investigation by the BBC and Buzzfeed News into corruption in tennis. In September 2016, the two parties claimed to have uncovered files that exposed evidence of widespread suspected match-fixing at the top level of professional tennis.The report said 16 players who have ranked in the ATP top 50 during the past decade had been repeatedly flagged to the TIU over suspicions they had thrown matches. All players in question, including a winner of Grand Slam titles, were allowed to continue competing at the top level of the sport.However, corruption within the sport seemingly remains a problem, with suspicious betting activity around tennis higher than in all other sports.In 2017, a total of 160 of the 226 suspicious activity alerts that were filed with European integrity body ESSA were in relation to tennis betting, far ahead of football, in second place with 45 alerts. In addition, the TIU in January this year revealed it had banned nine professional players for betting or match-fixing activities over the course of 2017. In total, 13 players were sanctioned, with five of these banned for match-fixing and a further four for betting – up from nine players and officials in 2016. Tennis integrity body proposes streaming and sponsorship ban Subscribe to the iGaming newsletter 20th December 2018 | By contenteditor Tags: Mobile Online Gambling OTB and Betting Shops Topics: Marketing & affiliates Sports betting Tech & innovation Marketing & affiliates Final report from Independent Review Panel set up by tennis governing bodies suggests sweeping changes to protect sport’s integrity Email Address
Intralo and TurkCell’s Inteltek has lost out in a tender to run Turkey’s sports betting monopoly Iddaa, with the new ten-year contract awarded to a joint venture between Scientific Games and Turkish conglomerate Demirören Group.The SporToto State Organisation confirmed on February 28 that it had approved the bid from Sans Girisim, comprising Scientific Games and Demirören Group, which is active in the energy, media, retail and education sectors, to operate Iddaa. Sans Girisim’s contract begins later this year, and runs to 2029.Sans Girisim has won the right to provide a central betting system and a risk management solution for fixed-odds and pari-mutuel betting at retail locations throughout Turkey.SporToto announced last month after an initial tender process it would choose between the two bids, and has now plumped for the company that pledged to take the lowest commission. Sans Girisim offered to receive a 0.2% share of all sports wagering revenue, with Inteltek – a joint venture between Intralot and Turkish mobile phone operator Turkcell – offering 0.5%.After the confirmation of the award, Demirören chairman Yildirim Demirören quit his position as chairman of the Turkish Football Federation (TFF) to avoid a potential conflict of interest.In a statement on the TFF website, Demirören said: “I have made this decision regarding the job I have carried out with pride and honour until today, to not leave any space for dispute and to cast a shadow over my tenure before the Turkish and world public.”Despite the resignation, critics in Turkey have suggested Demirören’s domination of the media – it bought national newspaper Hürriyet and TV station Kanal D last year – and closeness to the Erdogan regime could have influenced SporToto’s decision.SporToto stated when it launched its Iddaa tender process in January that it aims to generate 17bn Lira (£2.4bn/€2.7bn/$3.1bn) in revenue from the offering’s first year in operation.Inteltek, established in 2001, has served as the exclusive provider of fixed-odds and pari-mutuel betting since 2004, and secured a new, 10-year contract in 2008. It then extended the deal by a year in August 2018.Over the past 11 years, SporToto has seen its share of the country’s sports betting market grow to 56%, with turnover rising to $3.5bn.SporToto is one of only two legal gambling operators in Turkey, alongside national lottery operator Millî Piyango İdaresi.Within hours of the news being announced, Intralot chief executive Antonios Kerastaris stepped down from his role. He has been replaced by the supplier’s founder Sokratis Kokkalis. Topics: Sports betting Tech & innovation Email Address Subscribe to the iGaming newsletter Regions: Europe Central and Eastern Europe Turkey 1st March 2019 | By contenteditor Intralot loses Turkish sports betting contract AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to FacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitter Intralo and TurkCell’s Inteltek has lost out in a tender to run Turkey’s sports betting monopoly, with the new ten-year contract awarded to a joint venture between Scientific Games and Turkish conglomerate Demirören Group. Sports betting
AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to FacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitter Topics: Finance Sports betting Strategy Email Address 2nd October 2019 | By contenteditor Subscribe to the iGaming newsletter Flutter Entertainment, the parent company of Paddy Power Betfair, has agreed a deal to acquire all of the shares in The Stars Group (TSG) and merge with the operator to form a combined business with annual revenue of £3.8bn (€4.3bn/$4.7bn).Under the agreement, which would create the largest online betting and gaming operator globally, Flutter would exchange 0.2253 new shares in exchange for each TSG share, with Flutter shareholders owning approximately 54.64% of shares in the combined business and TSG shareholders 45.36%.Flutter and TSG said that the merger would deliver substantial value creation for shareholders from pre-tax cost synergies of £140m per year, as well as potential revenue cross-sell in international markets and lower finance costs.The two operators also expect the combination to deliver a post-tax return on invested capital that exceeds Flutter’s cost of capital by the end of the third full financial year post completion. Strong free cash flow generation is also expected as a result of the deal.The combined business would have a diversified geographical footprint and, by offering sports betting, poker, casino, fantasy sports and free-to-play games, a wide product range.Flutter also noted the merger would accelerate delivery of its four pillar growth strategy, whereby it will maximise profitable growth in its core markets, boost growth in international markets, attain new podium positions in key territories such as Spain, Italy and Germany, and allow it to pursue US expansion opportunities.Flutter chief executive Peter Jackson, who would assume the same role at the combined business, said: “The combination represents a great opportunity to deliver a step change in our presence in international markets and ensure we are ideally positioned to take advantage of the exciting opportunity in the US through a media relationship with Fox Sports as well as our development of US sports betting through Flutter’s FanDuel and TSG’s Fox Bet brands.“We believe the combination of Flutter and TSG will deliver substantial value for shareholders. We will have an exceptional portfolio of leading recreational brands and best-in-class products on industry-leading technology platforms.”Jackson would sit on a 14-person board at the combined business, with other key members of staff to take on certain management roles. Flutter chief financial officer Jonathan Hill would assume the role at combined group, while TSG chief executive Rafi Ashkenazi would serve as chief operating officer.Meanwhile, Flutter chair Gary McGann would become chair of the combined group, with Divyesh Gadhia, currently executive chairman of TSG, serving as deputy chair. Richard Flint, formerly Sky Betting & Gaming CEO, would become a non-executive director of the business.“This exciting combination will allow us to enhance and accelerate our existing strategy,” Ashkenazi said. “In recent years, we have transformed TSG from a single product operator in poker, to a diverse global leader with multiple product offerings across poker, gaming and sports betting.“The combination with Flutter will further enhance our company’s core strengths, and position us strongly for the future in this rapidly evolving industry. I’m delighted to be joining the board of the combined group and to serve as its COO.”The merger remains subject to various conditions, including approval of Flutter and TSG Shareholder. This is not expected to happen until the second quarter of 2020, the deal requiring the support of at least 66% of TSG shareholders in order to go ahead.Other closing conditions include approval from the FCA, London Stock Exchange and Euronext Dublin, as well as the satisfaction of various merger controls, foreign investment and gaming related approvals in the UK, Ireland, Australia, the US and Canada.Should the deal gain all of the necessary approvals, Flutter and TSG said they hope to complete the deal during the second or third quarter of next year.In addition to this, there is also consideration for economic alignment of Flutter’s and TSG’s strategic third party relationships across their US businesses. Flutter has entered into arrangements, conditional on completion of the deal, with Fox Sports, Fastball Holdings and Boyd Interactive Gaming.Fox Sports, TSG’s US media partner for Fox Bet, will have the right to purchase an 18.5% equity interest in FanDuel Group at its market value in 2021.“Our Fox Bet partnership is off to a great start, and teaming up with Flutter and FanDuel will allow us to build on that strength and jointly capture the significant market potential ahead of us,” Fox Corporation executive chairman and CEO Lachlan Murdoch commented. “We’re excited to be able to expand our partnership into FanDuel, which together with FOX Bet, will be a leader in sports wagering in the US.”Meanwhile, Boyd, Flutter’s co-shareholder in FanDuel, and Fastball will receive a payment of 12.5% of the increase in Fox Bet’s market value between completion of the merger and the exercise of Flutter’s option to acquire Fastball’s remaining equity interest in FanDuel in July 2023.In return, Fox Sports, Fastball and Boyd have waived exclusivity provisions that form part of the existing contractual arrangements in relation to the relevant US subsidiaries of TSG and Flutter.McGann said: “This is an exciting and transformational combination that will bring together two strong, complementary businesses to create a global leader in the fast-growing online sports betting and gaming industry.“The combined group will be a strong voice in the promotion of responsible gaming worldwide and will lead industry standards on the protection of customers, whilst building sustainable relationships with them.” Finance Tags: Online Gambling OTB and Betting Shops Flutter Entertainment, the parent company of Paddy Power Betfair, has agreed a deal to acquire all of the shares in The Stars Group and merge with the operator to form a combined business with annual revenue of £3.8bn (€4.3bn/$4.7bn). Stars Group and Flutter Entertainment agree mega-merger
AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to FacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitter Regions: US New York 11th November 2019 | By contenteditor New York sportsbook revenue falls 4.4% in October Subscribe to the iGaming newsletter Email Address Topics: Finance Sports betting Finance Revenue from New York’s four commercial sportsbooks declined 4.4% month-on-month in October to $2.2m (£1.7m/€2.0m), though this still represented the second-highest monthly total since the launch of regulated retail wagering in July.The October total was just shy of the monthly gross gaming revenue record, set in September at $2.3m.New York has now generated $5.7m in sports wagering revenue since the market opened on July 16.Rush Street’s Rivers Casino & Resort Schenectady remained the market leader in October, posting $1.0m in revenue from its Kambi-powered sportsbook. This was 10.6% higher than the $903,892 generated in September.Read the full story on iGB North America. Revenue from New York’s four commercial sportsbooks declined 4.4% month-on-month in October to $2.2m (£1.7m/€2.0m), though this still represented the second-highest monthly total since the launch of regulated retail wagering in July.
AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to FacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitter Marketing & affiliates Email Address Topics: Marketing & affiliates Sports betting Blank generation Subscribe to the iGaming newsletter 7th September 2020 | By Daniel O’Boyle Regions: Europe UK & Ireland Southern Europe Italy Spain Gambling sponsorship in sport has become widespread in recent years, but this ubiquity has drawn ever-louder criticism, Daniel O’Boyle writes. With bans either in place or incoming in Europe, will betting brands disappear from strips in the UK? And if so how can the industry adapt to the loss of a major marketing channel – and sport to a significant source of funding? Gambling sponsorship in sport has become widespread in recent years, but this ubiquity has drawn ever-louder criticism, Daniel O’Boyle writes. With bans either in place or incoming in Europe, will betting brands disappear from strips in the UK? And if so how can the industry adapt to the loss of a major marketing channel – and sport to a significant source of funding? Select a football team at random from the top two tiers of the English football pyramid. Chances are, its kit will be emblazoned with a gambling operator’s branding.To some, the fact that betting sponsorships have become ubiquitous in sport represents a problem. Others would argue that it allows the industry to funnel money back into sport and helps keep sports clubs alive.Betting sponsorship has become one of the highest profile ways for an operator to promote its brand, yet in Great Britain it could become a thing of the past. A ban is already in place in Italy, and a similar move in Spain is edging closer.Britain’s influential Gambling-Related Harm All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) called for a ban on all gambling advertising in the UK, regardless of medium.But a report from the House of Lords may have been more pertinent to the sponsorship question. Taking a more measured approach than the APPG to the industry in general, the Peers’ calls for a sponsorship ban gained more traction in the wider national press.“Gambling advertising and sponsorship within certain types of sport, predominantly football, has mostly replaced tobacco and alcohol advertising which was previously prolific in such arenas,” the report said.It may be too soon to be sure of the likelihood of a ban on sponsorship. But with the long-promised British Government review of the Gambling Act likely to get in motion soon, the debate is only just beginning.Neil Banbury, UK General Manager of Kindred Group, whose 32Red brand sponsors Championship clubs Derby County, Middlesbrough, Preston North End and formerly Leeds United, says he couldn’t be sure whether a ban is likely. However Kindred would play a part in arguing for their continued existence, he adds.“It’s still unclear, and the UK Government’s upcoming Gambling Act Review will undoubtedly keep many options on the table,” Banbury says. “Kindred is keen to be involved in the public conversation on the issue – as we feel there is much to be said for credible, responsible sponsorship that benefits sporting organisations and the communities they operate in.”Normalising gambling? On the other side of the debate, there are those who will push an end to gambling sponsorship.Besides the House of Lords and APPG, campaign group Gambling With Lives has pushed for a ban on all gambling marketing through its The Big Step movement.“Gambling sponsorship, advertising and marketing in football should end to stop children being exposed to gambling and to reduce gambling related harm,” The Big Step founder James Grimes says. “For those of us who have experienced gambling disorder, a common theme is of being lured in by a cascade of advertising.”To Grimes, a former problem gambler, sponsorship deals at his local club of Peterborough United and elsewhere played a part in his addiction.“Gambling sponsors and partners at my favourite football club normalised gambling, whilst the advertising, direct marketing and VIP schemes linked to football glamourised it.”While Kindred may be an operator actively working to keep betting sponsorship around, some have made strange bedfellows with Gambling With Lives, the APPG and the House of Lords in calling for an end to the deals.Ladbrokes Coral operator GVC has called for a ban on the practice in the UK in April 2019, with its Betdaq brand donating its sponsorship deals to charities.Flutter’s Paddy Power, in typical fashion, announced its stance with a little more bravado.It announced a partnership with Huddersfield that saw the Championship club take the pitch for a July 2019 friendly with a sash bearing the operator’s name. The event was then revealed to be a publicity stunt to help launch the bookmaker’s ‘Save Our Shirt’ campaign.“Shirt sponsorship in football has gone too far; we accept that there is a role for sponsors around football, but the shirt should be sacred,” Paddy Power’s marketing director, Victor Corcoran, said at the time.In other markets, the stance isn’t always the same. GVC’s brands have shown more willingness to sponsor in other markets, such as in Spain, where Valencia shirts bear Bwin’s brand.Nonetheless, Grimes said he “welcomed” anyone – or business – who supported The Big Step’s cause.But outside of operators, sports and campaign groups, how much of an issue is gambling sponsorship?Looking at public opinion, the evidence may say more about the stakes of the discussion than what the public actually believes.The Football League’s 2019 Supporters Survey found that 71% showed some sort of support for the practice: 62% of Football League fans found gambling sponsorship, “acceptable with suitable safeguards to protect the young and problem gamblers”. A further 9% found gambling sponsorship deals “acceptable under all circumstances’. So far so good for those with an interest in sponsorship deals.Two months later, a survey of more than 1,200 fans carried out by the Football Supporters’ Association (FSA) in conjunction with GambleAware’s ‘Bet Regret’ campaign found a mere 13% of respondents say they would be, or are, happy for their club to be sponsored by a gambling company.That discrepancy, with more than half of fans apparently willing to accept gambling sponsorship but not happy about it, shows supporters and opponents are both aware of the importance of at least being perceived to have public opinion on their side.Yet it also suggests that the majority of the public are less polarised, and perhaps willing to be won over by the more persuasive side of the debate.Can clubs adapt? Among those who have Kindred’s back will be the Sky Bet-sponsored English Football League (EFL) – representing English football’s second, third and fourth tiers. It said the financial boost offered by betting operators was necessary for clubs. Especially given the drastic and unexpected loss of revenue created by the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.Across the EFL, clubs receive a combined £40m from betting sponsors, while estimates of Premier League front-of-shirt deals range from £10m annually for West Ham’s deal with Betway to £3m per year.According to CMS Sports Consultancy, which helps broker many sponsorship deals, a League Two club that records £1 in annual commercial and ticket revenue would make around 12% of that total from its main shirt sponsorship deal.In a year in which one Football League club entered liquidation and a second narrowly avoided the same fate even before the effects of the pandemic, the value a sponsorship deal brings could potentially help some clubs stay alive.“The Covid-19 pandemic represents perhaps the biggest challenge to the finances of EFL clubs in their history, and with over £40m a season paid by the sector to the league and its clubs, the significant contribution betting companies make to the ongoing financial sustainability of professional football at all levels is as important now as it has ever been,” the EFL tells iGB.“It remains the EFL’s view that the gambling industry should make a financial contribution back into football, given the significant revenues it generates from our matches without bearing any of the associated costs.“This is currently being achieved through commercial partnerships with the EFL and a number of our member clubs.”Grimes, rejects this outlook, noting that football clubs have moved beyond once-widespread alcohol and tobacco sponsors of the past.“Football has a responsibility to put the long-term health & wellbeing of it’s young fans over short term profit,” he says. “We heard the same fears about removing tobacco sponsors across sport and of course those sports that had claimed a reliance on tobacco sponsorship didn’t collapse.“We don’t want to minimise a possible financial impact on smaller clubs but we would urge them to start work now to identify commercial partners whose activities don’t do damage to their fans and their communities.”The EFL also pointed to work it has done alongside Sky Bet to encourage responsible gambling, such as a safer gambling campaign with players wearing sleeve badges with responsible gambling messaging.In addition, it added that it believed such a ban would not be based on any evidence that it would actually reduce harm.“The association between football and the gambling sector is long-standing and the League firmly believes a collaborative, evidence based approach to preventing gambling harms that is also sympathetic to the economic needs of sport will be of much greater benefit than the blunt instrument of blanket bans,” it added.Naturally, however much a sponsor is willing to pay for a sponsorship deal, it expects to make back more than that in revenue from new customers and increased engagement.To Banbury, however, the benefits are more than commercial. Rather than encouraging problematic habits as Grimes argues, Banbury is confident that a responsible operator can do the opposite: use the platform to encourage responsible play.“While the specific numbers are commercially sensitive, [sponsorship is] naturally beneficial to us as a brand,” Banbury says. “However, what is more important is the ability to be able to use sponsorships to develop responsible and controlled activations that promote healthier gambling behaviour.“We’ve done a lot of work on that in the last 18 months, and plan to evolve it further in the coming year.”If sponsorship does disappear, operators will likely have to find different ways to acquire new customers and keep the customers they do have engaged.Yet Banbury was hesitant to discuss what marketing might look like if sponsorship deals are no longer an option, pointing instead to Kindred’s work to ensure it won’t have to worry about this scenario.Precedent elsewhere Where once much of the European industry followed Great Britain, bans on sponsorship have already been introduced elsewhere in Europe. In Italy, all marketing including sponsorship was banned in 2019, while in Spain a similar ban looks set to come into effect.“It is too early to say what the impact has been for the market, consumers and clubs in those countries, but our broader view is the same – to remove the industry from the public eye does not help those who have a problem with gambling,” Banbury says.Spain’s ban has faced major criticism from online operator association JDigital, which attacked it as not evidence based, designed to favour government-backed lottery operators, a potential boost to the illegal market and harmful to sport.“The proposed measures will negatively affect sports, which will lose up to €80m in advertising revenues, as experienced in countries like Italy due to the ban on the advertising of gambling,” it explained in a letter to the European Commission.An eye abroad Back in Britain, however, the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC), has not said as much on sponsorship. In a statement to iGB, it pointed to its members’ recent record on advertising, such as the whistle-to-whistle ban.It is “developing a new code of conduct on sponsorship and advertising that will further strengthen standards”, it added.What that new code of conduct will look like, and the reaction from advocates of a ban, remains to be seen. However, a code for BGC members may not have a major impact on the most visible sponsors in football.While Kindred is among the BGC members sponsoring clubs below the top flight, only one BGC member – Betway – holds a front-of-shirt deal with a Premier League club. Instead, operators sponsoring clubs in a league with a cumulative global audience of 3.2bn viewers often look beyond Britain for customers.To the Global Lottery Monitoring System (GLMS), a non-profit body aimed at protecting sporting integrity, that’s the source of many problems in sponsorship today.In a report published in July, the GLMS mentioned the risk in terms of both integrity and player protection created by Asia-facing sponsors who use sponsorship deals to target unregulated markets such as China.Pointing to ‘warning signs’ such as use of Asian characters on a shirt, holding only a white label licence in its partner’s country or operating a ‘mirror website’ intended for customers in unregulated markets, it said these sponsors represented a major problem across Europe.“Asian-facing operators leverage on their association with these teams to legitimise their products and target customers in unregulated markets in Asia,” GLMS president Ludovico Calvi explains.Calvi made sure to stress, however, that this issue does not mean problems are inherent in sponsorship. Instead, he argued, sponsorship can bring great benefits for responsible gambling and integrity, provided more is done to select the right partners.“GLMS is against any ban,” Calvi says. “We need to have clear rules but we need to make sure that licensed operators can promote and support sports transparently. Sports organisations need it.”But how can this issue be tackled when it likely involves clubs passing up on the most lucrative deals? In Calvi’s view, a ‘Know Your Sponsor’ check, similar in spirit to the Football Association’s ‘Fit and Proper Person’ test or the Dutch ‘Know Your Owner’ rules, where potential owners face vetting before the purchase of a club, may be the solution.“You have the ‘Know your Owner’ protocol in some FAs,” he explains. “It is only fair that if anyone is buying equity in a football club, they need to meet certain standards. But you could also have a ‘Know Your Sponsor’ assessment.“If someone would like to sponsor a football club, background checks need to be carried out and if the potential candidates are Asian Facing betting operators targeting consumers in a jurisdiction where online betting is illegal, then they shouldn’t be allowed to sponsor a club.”Banbury does not mention a similar measure but agreed that too many major sponsors may not have eyes on the British market.“It may be the case that other brands – particularly those that have less of a commitment to the UK market – do not view sponsorship in the same way [as Kindred],” he admits.“It remains up to rights holders to determine who they want to partner with. However, I would like to see a higher bar required from gambling brands looking to get involved in sport in the UK.“It would need to be determined what this would entail but it would seem a positive step towards setting up a much more sustainable and appropriate relationship between our industry and sport.”However, Crystal Palace, sponsored by the Asia-facing W88, tells iGB it worked with the operator towards safer gambling goals.But to most opponents of sponsorship, creation and enforcement of rules to weed out those with interest only in unregulated markets would likely not be enough. Given that viewers of sport include many children, Grimes says, settling for these restrictions would not do enough to address the core of the issue.“There should be no ‘soft options’ when it comes to exposing children to gambling. Children as young as 8 can recall betting brands and are growing up thinking betting is a normal part of football,” Grimes says, citing a 2016 Australian study that showed the three quarters of children aged 8 to 16 years were able to recall the names of sports betting brands, with 26% able to name four or more.“Instead they should be warned about the risks associated with it. Only ending gambling sponsorship and advertising in football will adequately protect our children from being exposed to gambling and its associated risks.Indeed, the targeting of unregulated markets appears well down the list of priorities compared to domestic concerns, with Italy’s wide-ranging marketing ban still allowing sports clubs to sign betting partners for foreign markets: regulated or otherwise.While local operators were forced out, SS Lazio signed up HQ Bet as its Chinese betting partner, JBO became Bologna FC’s Asia betting partner and 10Bet was named as Serie A champions Juventus’ ‘international partner’, representing all markets outside of Italy.When the UK brings in its own long-awaited review of the Gambling Act, marketing restrictions may not be as severe as Italy, but sponsorship is surely at risk.There’s plenty of room for reform, but it’s hard to miss that operators working on a responsible sponsorship message may be outflanked by those who could survive a ban on one side and those less interested in reform on the other.With topics affecting a larger number of BGC members also on the table, a sponsorship ban might be a convenient compromise where those calling for restrictions can claim a victory without the British industry’s largest players feeling defeated.That, however, would leave those working on more responsible sponsorship frameworks left in the cold.
AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to FacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitter “We are excited to offer our Hawthorne data and brand to be included with this innovative new pari-mutuel wagering product line,” Hawthorne assistant general manager John Walsh said. Email Address 12th October 2020 | By Conor Mulheir Subscribe to the iGaming newsletter VLR chairman Vincent Caldwell added: “Hawthorne is our fourth product to go live in the US. It follows Derby Lane, Tampa Bay Downs and Palm Beach Kennel Club in Florida, and we have two more tracks that are currently undergoing testing before being launched later this month.” Tags: Virtual Live Racing Hawthorne Race Course Chicago’s Hawthorne Race Course has introduced a new pari-mutuel based product line through a partnership with virtual sports software developer Virtual Live Racing (VLR). Regions: US Illinois Topics: Sports betting Horse racing Retail sports betting Sportsbook Virtual sports Hawthorne Race Course partners with Virtual Live Racing “Racing fans across North America will be able to wager Hawthorne Virtual as it is available to all tote systems in the US via distribution through AmTote International’s Spectrum wagering system which enables us to create a brand new risk-free revenue stream.” Sports betting The deal has seen VLR create a virtual version of the race course, for inclusion in its virtual racing products. The games allow customers to bet on virtual races based on past data recorded at the track, rather than using random number generators to determine results. Read the full story on iGB North America.