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US Congress studies online gaming ban bills

Banned Gambling games sitesLawmakers from the Republican and Democratic US political parties have introduced legislation in the House and Senate in an attempt to ban online gambling in the country.

According to the Associated Press news agency, the bills are aimed at reversing a decision in 2011 by Attorney General Eric Holder that a 1961 law used to ban internet gambling only applied to sports betting.

The new bills would expand prohibition to where it originally stood before the 2011 ruling.

New Jersey, Delaware and Nevada are the only three states to have legalised online gaming since the 2011 ruling, but a number of other states have also considered doing so.

Senator Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina, is the chief Senate sponsor while the House version is sponsored by Republican Jason Chaffetz from Utah. Each bill also has co-sponsors from both parties.

“Virtually any cellphone or computer can again become a video poker machine,” Graham said. “It’s simply not right.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat from Nevada, controls his chamber’s agenda and has supported legalising online poker.

Nevada’s other Senator, Republican Dean Heller, also favours internet poker in Nevada and said it should be up the each state to decide whether they permit online gaming.

However, a spokesperson for Heller said that the Senator believes a major expansion of online gambling would be “bad for Nevada and for the country”.

UK Labour party for FOBTs’ ban

UK opposition party Labour is set to force a vote in Parliament on its plans to give councils the power to ban fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs) from bookmakers in their constituencies.

According to the BBC, Labour is to use an opposition day debate in the House of Commons on Wednesday to press the government into taking action on the issue.

There are currently 33,000 FOBTs in place in the UK, making around £1.5 billion (€1.8 billion/$2.5 billion) each year for the larger bookmakers, an amount estimated to be half of their annual profits.

The machines, which allow punters to spend up to £300 a minute, have faced heavy criticism from UK campaign groups and politicians in recent months.

As reported by iGaming Business, Labour leader Ed Miliband said the machines are “becoming an epidemic” in some parts of the country and vowed to amend planning laws in England, Scotland and Wales to curb their growth if Labour regains power.

The previous Labour government relaxed the gambling laws to allow the FOBTs to be installed in the first place. However, the party has accused the gambling industry of exploiting these changes to target the poorer areas in the UK.

Miliband said that the current limit of four FOBTs per shop had led to “clusters” of shops opening together, with councils powerless to act on the matter.

He said that a Labour government would legislate to place betting shops in a separate use class, which would allow councils to use planning powers to control the amount of shops opening in their area. Betting shops are currently situated in the same category as banks.

Labour would review the number of FOBTs allowed on a single bookmaker’s premises, including allowing councils to ban them. Miliband said that the party would also take steps to make FOBTS less addictive by requiring pop-ups and breaks in play for the user.

As reported by iGaming Business, MPs recently voted against a proposal to reduce the maximum stake on FOBTs from £100 to £2 and to cut the top prize from the current £500.

However, the government has not ruled out taking action on FOBTs, with Prime Minister David Cameron promising he would take a “proper look” at the issue.

The Liberal Democrat opposition party also recently voted in favour of handing councils the power to limit the number of betting shops in their area.

SBTech signed a deal with Operadora General de Entretenimiento SA de CV

Sportsbetting solutions provider SBTech has entered the regulated Central American gambling market by signing an exclusive deal with Mexican land-based bookmaker Operadora General de Entretenimiento SA de CV, operator of the Ganabet.mx website.

Under the deal, Ganabet will replace its entire legacy sport system with SBTech’s turnkey platform.

SBTech will provide Ganabet with a full turnkey solution including its sports and live betting product, premium casino and live games, advanced mobile platform and localised payment methods for the Mexican market.

The deal will include the provision of a HTML5-based mobile betting, which SBTech said is compatible with all mobile devices and offers access to over 10,000 monthly live events and premium mobile casino content.

The platform also offers the user the ability to deposit and track transactions with localised payment methods.

“SBTech has shown they are fully experienced and knowledgeable in their ability to help existing bookmakers take their offering to the next level, and their expertise will allow us to grow our business in the regulated Mexican markets as well as in other South American markets,” Ganabet’s operations manager, Cris Matus, said.

Much hassle for online poker in France while sports betting experience growth

Trends for France’s igaming verticals were confirmed on Tuesday when the country’s online gaming regulator ARJEL revealed that fourth quarter stakes for online poker cash games dropped 23% to €1.2bn, with gross gaming revenues down 12% during the final months of 2013 to €65m.

Annual figures showed gross gaming revenues and stakes for online poker cash games had dropped 13% and 18% to €258m and €5.5bn respectively during 2013. Stakes for tournaments were up 5% to €1.4bn, although this was not enough to make up for the drop in cash game figures.

France's online gaming operators generated €325m in tax revenues, excluding VAT, ARJEL said. 

Online betting continued its upward trend, with a 41% rise in stakes to €264m and a 38% rise in gross win to €54m during the three month period. Over the 12-month period, stakes rose 20% to €848m and gross win was up 19% to €164m, helped by football’s popularity, stakes on the beautiful game were up 39% in 2013. Basketball and tennis also proved attractive to punters as stakes on those sports rose 36% and 25% during the year.

Stakes for horse racing pari mutuel were down 6% to €278m with gross win just about stable (-1%) at €67m during the quarter. Stakes were down 1% to €1.1bn over the course of the year while gross gaming revenues rose very slightly, 0.4% to €264m, in 2013. Operators achieved the rise in annual gross win through an equivalent reduction in the payout ratios to 78.2%.

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Mecca Bingo and Virtue Fusion signed a partnership renewal agreement

mecca bingoMecca Bingo, part of British gambling operator Rank Group, has renewed its partnership with Virtue Fusion, the dedicated bingo subsidiary of online gaming software supplier Playtech.

The extended three-year deal will ensure the continuation of a relationship that stretches back to 2006.

Under the agreement, Mecca Bingo will continue to use the Virtue Fusion bingo network and product range to deliver its Meccabingo.com online bingo service.

“This has been an important partnership for Mecca since 2006 and we are pleased that an agreement has been reached to develop this further over the next three years,” Rank Group’s chairman and chief executive officer, Ian Burke, said.

Daniel Phillips, chief operating officer of Virtue Fusion, added: “Mecca were one of Virtue Fusion’s first ever Bingo customers and the further re-signing of a marquee bingo brand like this shows the strength of the partnership, in conjunction with the power of the Virtue Fusion bingo network, range of products and our future plans.”

The UK government halves bingo duty

bingo ukNick Harding, chief executive officer of Praesepe, owner of the Beacon Bingo brand, has praised the UK government to cut the rate of duty on bingo in the country to 10%.

As reported by iGaming Business, UK chancellor George Osborne unveiled plans to halve bingo duty in his Budget 2014 announcement.

Praesepe, whose Beacon Bingo chain includes Europe’s largest bingo club in Cricklewood, London, will now benefit from the reduced rate.

“At last we have a government which has had the vision to support the UK Bingo industry and who recognises how important it has been to generations of players for over fifty years,” Harding said.

“Reducing the unfair tax burden which the previous government had imposed on UK Bingo plc means that clubs all over the country will now be able to start to reinvest and provide their players with the modern facilities that they deserve.

“Bingo provides a source of gaming entertainment for millions of citizens of all ages throughout the country. The decision to reduce the duty by 50% represents a ringing endorsement of the sector and a victory for common sense.”

Larry Kehoe, operations director responsible for the development of the Beacon Bingo brand, added: “The decision will allow us to implement more of the initiatives we have been working on to improve further the bingo experience for our customers and to continue to deliver fantastic value for money entertainment in a safe, secure and socially responsible environment.”

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UAIC joins CNIGA

The California Nations Indian Gaming Association (CNIGA) has confirmed that the United Auburn Indian Community (UAIC) has joined the association.

UAIC’s application was approved by a unanimous vote of the CNIGA board of directors at the organisation’s annual meeting on December 12, 2013.

The Auburn Rancheria is located in the Sierra Nevada foothills near Auburn in California, while UAIC operates the Thunder Valley Casino Resort in Lincoln, which is also located in the US state.

In addition, the CNIGA board of directors also approved two member applications submitted by BIS and Indian Land Capital Company (ILCC).

BIS provides visually enabled analytic solutions to casino managers, while ILCC is an American Indian owned and managed financial institution that provides alternative loan options to Indian nations for tribal land acquisition.

Meanwhile, the meeting also saw John Tucker unanimously re-elected to his role as chairman of the CNIGA.

Tucker, who is also chairman of the Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation in San Diego County, will now serve his third term as the CNIGA’s chairman.

Dennis Hendricks, who serves as Councilmember for the Tuolumne Band of Me-Wuk Indians in Tuolumne County, was also re-elected as the CNIGA’s treasurer.

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MaxMedia et The APP Company lancent Lemon Joe

Le développeur de jeux mobiles et sociaux indépendant MaxMedia Games a uni ses forces avec l'éditeur aux États-Unis The APP Company pour lancer un nouveau titre de jeu mobile sous la forme de Lemon Joe.

Le jeu sur le thème d'aventure, qui est disponible sur la plate-forme iOS d’Apple, est basé sur une constellation de sept planètes uniques.

Les joueurs sont mis au défi de se frayer un chemin à travers 90 niveaux, subissant un éventail de monstres sur le chemin.

Chaque niveau évalue la capacité d'un joueur à utiliser divers mécanismes de défense, obtenant des crédits pour acheter des pouvoirs spéciaux et des combinaisons spatiales à utiliser dans une collection de niveaux classiques, de style labyrinthe.

« Offrant une aventure de jeu unique enrichi d'une pléthore d'obstacles et de mises à niveau dans le jeu, Lemon Joe cherche à obtenir une forte présence de jeux mobiles et de gagner une place dans les plus grands jeux mobiles pour iOS, » a déclaré partenaire d’ The APP Company, Jason Moskowitz.

« Ce jeu est frais, amusant, captivant et conçu avec le joueur d'aujourd'hui à l'esprit. »

Maxim Fedorov, directeur général de MaxMedia, a ajouté: « Lemon Joe a commencé avec un concept simple et a grandi en un jeu vraiment incroyable.

« Nous voulions que ce soit amusant et attrayant pour un large public de joueurs du monde entier. Nous avons essayé de peaufiner chaque détail du jeu et il a fallu beaucoup de temps, mais ça valait le coup. »

Playtech signed a deal with Holland Casino

Online casino software supplier Playtech has confirmed a ‘landmark’ deal with Dutch gambling monopoly Holland Casino in advance of the regulation of online gambling in the Netherlands.

Last month, iGaming Business reported that a deal was in place, but both Playtech and Holland Casino have now confirmed completion of the agreement.

Under the deal, Playtech will partner Holland Casino in its move into online gaming and develop an entire gaming product for the gambling monopoly, which will include casino, poker, bingo, mobile and portal.

In addition, Playtech will also develop a play-for-points offering, which will support Holland Casino’s efforts to establish itself in the online space and build an internet customer base.

The Dutch online gaming market is expected to become regulated in early 2015.

“As the world's largest online gaming software supplier, we're convinced that Playtech will deliver the high quality and state-of-the-art user experience that we seek for our players,” Holland Casino’s chief executive officer Willem-Jan van den Dijssel said.

Mor Weizer, Playtech’s chief executive officer, added: “Playtech will ensure Holland Casino meets all the new regulatory requirements to be set out by the Netherlands legal authorities to provide its customers with an appealing localised product experience.”

EveryMatrix uses VueTec’s Distance Gaming

live casino  vuetec distance gamingGaming platform provider EveryMatrix has agreed a new partnership with live dealer casino VueTec as part of a move to expand its CasinoEngine product.

Under the deal, CasinoEngine will utilise VueTec’s Distance Gaming secure gaming system to offer live streaming from real land-based casinos including sites in Dublin and the Isle of Man.

“With VueTec’s expertise in real time land based live dealer casino we can offer something unique, in demand and of high quality to our operators,” EveryMatrix chief executive officer Ebbe Groes said.

Geoff Collins, chief executive officer of VueTec, added: “With the addition of VueTec’s Distance Gaming we are enthusiastic that it will be a great fit in this architecture.

“Distance Gaming is a unique and trustworthy high performance secure gaming system with feeds broadcast from real casinos.”

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