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Global gambling legislation news – Week ending January 12

USA gambling legislation

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It’s a new year and we are back to deliver you all the news and legislation changes in the global gambling industry. While we are only in the second week of 2018, there are plenty of exciting changes coming up, indicating it will be an interesting year for online and offline sports betting, racing and gaming industries.

Each week we will be back to bring you the latest news from around the world in a neat column accessible on desktop and mobile devices.

This week has been all about medical advancements, like nasal sprays and brain implants, for problem gambling treatments provided legislation supports the research. The sports betting case is still making headlines in the US, with a new report keeping it relevant. Meanwhile, the Philippines regulator has begun its first round of divestments of its gambling facilities. Find out more below.

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Australian betting site enters 2018 with new CEO

Australian online betting site, Sportsbet, will get a new CEO in March after Cormac Barry announced his departure. Chief marketing officer, Barni Evans, will take his place in a year where several regulatory changes are expected to take place, including a ban on sign-up bonuses. Cormac joined Sportsbet, owned by Paddy Power Betfair, when it only had 120,000 customers. He is leaving it with more than one million punters with a registered account.

Former Australian Senator and anti-gambling crusader, Nick Xenophon, has reigned in his plans to eradicate poker machines. The politician is currently running with his team SA Best in the South Australian election and has reportedly announced a new poker machine policy. Instead of focusing on a complete ban, Xenophon is looking at ways to encourage problem gamblers to get help and the best ways to treat gambling addictions.

American states likely to legalise sports betting

A new report by gaming analysts Eilers & Krejcik Gaming has predicted at least 18 states to legalise sports betting, should the Supreme Court rule in favour of New Jersey. The sports betting case is currently taking America by storm, with a decision expected to be handed down in June. Should the Supreme Court favour the repeal of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) 1992, the analysts believe states will pass legislation (if they haven’t already) to allow sports betting simultaneously.

Some states have already introduced bills in case a favourable ruling is handed down, but Indiana is causing controversy with its legislation. The state wants to include an integrity fee, which will see a one percent tax on the total betting handle go to sporting organisations, additional to the 9.25 percent tax, plus a 0.25 percent federal fee of the betting handle.

US researchers have released a paper suggesting that a brain chip which delivers electrical impulses could cure problem gamblers. The researchers from Stanford University Medical Centre studied mice addicted to overeating and found that giving them a quick shock via electrodes attached to the brain prompted them to become uninterested in eating. The team discovered a human case using their theory, where a man had a microchip inserted into his brain to treat an obsessive-compulsive disorder. The scientists are hopeful the implant may one day treat problem gamblers and other addictions.

UK gambling regulator warns operators

The UK Gambling Commission has written to its online gambling operators, warning them to review their anti-money laundering controls and problem gambling policies. According to the regulator, they are investigating 17 operators and five UK online casinos are at risk of losing their UKGC licence. Without a UK licence, the operators cannot accept players from one of the biggest online gambling markets in the world.

A government reshuffle could subsequently take some heat off the gambling industry, given the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) is currently engaging in a 12-week consultation period of fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs). Prime Minister, Theresa May, recently appointed Matt Hancock as Culture Secretary, a role which will see him in charge of the DCMS, gambling and horse racing. He will play a significant role in determining the maximum stakes of the machines, after spending 2017 significantly reducing administrative costs for the horse racing industry.

Ireland to get a gambling regulator

Ireland may get a long-awaited, independent gambling regulator under a proposed law. Minister of State for Equality, Immigration and Integration, David Stanton, is looking to revive laws proposed in 2013, which deal with gambling including the advertising restrictions. The Gambling Control Bill is a 90-page document recommending the Department of Justice establishing a regulator. However, Stanton wants to establish an independent authority to regulate all gambling in Ireland. The regulator would be responsible for gambling advertising, sports sponsorship, funding problem gambling treatments, and researching the industry. The government has said the bill needs to be updated before it can be approved, given the changes in the past four years.

Finnish researchers study nasal spray for problem gamblers

Researchers in Finland are looking for volunteers to participate in a study into a nasal spray to cure those addicted to gambling. The nasal spray is a mixture of watered down naloxone, a drug used to treat heroin overdoses, and researchers have trialled it as a pill among problem gamblers with some success. The study requires 130 participants who have a problem or are at risk, as it relies on the hypothesis that addiction stems from impulses in the brain. While the pill trial worked to some degree, it took too long to be effective which is why the researchers are trialling the alternative route of administration.

Kenyan bookmaker cuts sponsorships

Kenyan betting company, Sportpesa, has officially pulled its sponsorship deals with local sports including the Kenyan Premier League, Kenyan Rugby Union, and other sporting clubs. The deals, worth a total of 600 million shillings a year, have been pulled after the High Court upheld President Uhuru Kenyatta’s uniform tax hike to 35 percent for all gambling operators. Sportpesa attempted to challenge the President, arguing he had overstepped his mandate, after announcing the tax would threaten betting companies in the country. The lack of sponsorships has impacted sporting clubs immediately, threatening opportunities for teams to compete in cross-continent tournaments.

Philippines regulator selling off its casinos

The Philippines Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) is undergoing its transition into a regulator-only role, selling off its government-owned casinos. President Rodrigo Duterte advised PAGCOR to offload its operator role to avoid conflicting interests. PAGCOR announced that the first round of divestments of its 46 gambling facilities will be completed within the next few months. However, Philippines Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez said the process is complicated, due to contracts and external entities. It’s not clear who will purchase these facilities, nor when the next round of divestments will take place.

Italian online gambling licence auction opens

Italian lawmakers have opened the auction process for 120 online gambling licences in the country. As indicated in the Official Journal of the European Union, operators can apply for licences for online sports betting, card games, slots, bingo and other games. Of the 120 licences up for grabs, 40 will likely go to Italian-based gambling operators. While the government originally planned the process for late last year, delays caused it to open up this week.

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