July 24, 2014

"Problem" Gambling

July 23, 2014

Putin gives green light for gambling zone in Crimea

Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a law setting up a gambling zone in Crimea, the territory Russia annexed from Ukraine in March.

Four official gambling zones were created in Russia five years ago when the authorities acted to curb betting.

Russian MPs argue that the new law will attract investment and boost visitor numbers in Crimea, with its network of Black Sea holiday resorts.

Western states refuse to recognize Crimea's unification with Russia.

While the annexation, which followed a referendum on self-determination, was virtually bloodless, it encouraged pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine to take up arms against the new authorities in Kiev.

There were concerns that Crimea's tourist revenue would fall sharply this summer as a result of the crisis.

Russia has sought to maintain summer visitor numbers with holiday promotions while state companies have been encouraged to treat their workers to holidays on the peninsula. Initiatives include visa-free travel to Crimea for Chinese tourists.

The new law also extends the gambling zone in Russia's southern Krasnodar territory to cover the city of Sochi with its Winter Olympics venues. Casinos are expected to be built near the Olympic Village, Russian media report.

The other three gambling zones were set up in Russia's Baltic enclave of Kaliningrad, the Far East and Siberia's Altai territory.

July 10, 2014

Pinnacle Sports: Brazil bigger than Euros and South Africa combined

Phil Hudson, Acquisitions Manager at Pinnacle Sports, discusses his firm’s decision to open up the World Cup Final to $1million bets.

Do you anticipate the World Cup Final to be your biggest ever betting market?
Yes, we fully anticipated volume to exceed both Euro 2012 and World Cup in 2010 combined, with live and mobile components of that making significant contributions.

How has business been during this tournament?
The volume received is living up to our expectation, and with $1million limits for the final, we hope to end the tournament on a real high. Not only are we accepting $1million bets, but our customers also have ave the option to rebet at that stake as well.

Can you envisage rolling out the higher betting limits to other events?
Well our limits for the 2014 Super Bowl were $250k, NBA hit $100K and we regularly go to $500k for the Champions League so we are certainly looking to push the boundaries on limits across all our major sports.

Why persevere with the $1 minimum bet size? Isn’t this almost costing you money?
Though we have a wholesale model we are keen to acquire customers from right across the betting spectrum, as we believe all bettors should seek to maximize value. Given we don’t have specific sign up incentives this is cost effective, and our message is about educating bettors – especially those who are new to gambling – rather than just preaching to the converted.

Why do you think other bookmakers run scared of hefty bets? Is the art of balancing books a lost one? Or just out of fashion in favour of risk taking?
I cannot comment on the reasoning behind it, but bookmaking has certainly become homogenized with the risk-management aspects in many cases outsourced. Pinnacle Sports do all risk-management in-house, and it is the strength of this expertise that enables us to provide a low margin, high limits model, where winners are welcome back, unrestricted.

Spain's Gerard Pique Up 140,000 Tournament Chips at World Series of Poker

Gerard Pique would much, much prefer to be preparing to defend Spain's World Cup title this coming Sunday than playing poker in Las Vegas.

But Spain crashed out of the World Cup after just two matches, so to Las Vegas Pique went.

And it's proving to be quite fruitful so far.

Participating in the annual World Series of Poker, on Wednesday night, Pique was already up 140,000 in tournament chips at the tournament.

July 04, 2014

New social marketing campaign from Paddy Power

Bookmaker Paddy Power has launched a new word-of-mouth social media campaign, designed to capture the excitement of online audiences across the summer sporting events including the FIFA World Cup.

The ongoing social commerce campaign, launched in partnership with social-selling platform Buyapowa, will give sports fans the opportunity to earn special rewards including improved odds by spreading the word amongst family and friends. The first promotion will focus on the World Cup quarter finals.

The series of co-buying promotions will offer Paddy Power’s online followers and existing customers the opportunity to increase the odds they receive on the bets they’ve already placed, by getting friends and family in on the deal. The more people who take part and commit to buy, the better the price gets for everyone, creating a built-in incentive for sports fans to drive word-of-mouth. A top prize will also go to the customer who generates the most referrals.

Gideon Lask, CEO, Buyapowa says: “Paddy Power has a loyal core of customers, and with this campaign we’re aiming to fire up the online community to get other sports fans involved in an online flutter. This is a fun new take on the office sweepstake – a great way to get everyone involved in this summer’s sporting events, by gamifying the process of placing an online bet.

“Paddy Power already have a fantastic and growing fan-base online, so we see this as a way of rewarding those loyal fans who already love what they do, and giving soon-to-be fans an extra reason to get involved. In order to cut through the noise brands need to drive advocacy, enthusiasm, and human-generated content that flies straight to the top of users’ friends’ News Feeds, offering them an opportunity to participate and get rewarded. That’s what we’re helping Paddy Power to do.”

Mark Singleton, Head of Sportsbook Marketing at Paddy Power says: “We’re in the middle of the busiest season of the year with high profile sporting events coming thick and fast. We want not just to be a part of the conversation but a part of the experience – and that means offering our online community some amazing offers to give them added entertainment during the biggest sporting events of the summer. We’re pretty sure it’s the best friends and family deal since the dawn of the chicken bucket, so we’re hoping this partnership with Buyapowa will excite our customers and help us continue to innovate online.”

July 03, 2014

FIFA: No Cameroon Fixing

FIFA have revealed they have found "no indication of any match manipulation" by the Cameroon national team, nor from any other country at the 2014 World Cup.

The Indomitable Lions' woeful showing at the Brazil showpiece, where they finished rock bottom of Group A, was further dragged through the mud after it was claimed no fewer than seven of the squad members had been involved in cheating.

German magazine Der Spiegel had claimed convicted match-fixer Wilson Perumal had correctly predicted Cameroon's 4-0 defeat to Croatia, the match being most closely scrutinised, although he denied those claims soon after.

World football's governing body have also claimed they have been closely monitoring all games at the tournament, and that they have unearthed no evidence to support match fixing by any Cameroonian.

"We have requested from Der Spiegel all the communications with Perumal and any other material they claim to possess in order to prove the allegations they have made in public," FIFA spokeswoman Delia Fischer told reporters.

"The article has put the integrity of the FIFA World Cup in question which is a serious allegation.

"As mentioned on various occasions, FIFA has carefully monitored all 56 games to date and continue to monitor.

"So far we have found no indication of any match manipulation on the betting market in relation to any of the World Cup matches."

July 02, 2014

UK-Licensed Online Gambling Tops £1B, New Accounts Highest In Five Years

Online gambling operators holding a UK license reported revenue of £1.06b in the 12 months ending September 2013, up 16% year-on-year. Figures released Friday by the UK Gambling Commission showed online sports betting revenue improved 17% to £879m, while turnover rose 15% to £22.4b, representing all but £1b of total online turnover.

Online pool betting added revenue of £108m and the casino vertical chipped in a mere £30m. All verticals were either up or flat, except bingo, which fell 20% to £2m. The number of online gambling accounts and active accounts both nudged upward while new player registrations hit 5.2m, the highest level in five years.

Bearing in mind, these sums reflect only about 15% of the actual UK online market, as they don’t include UK punters wagering with sites like William Hill, Ladbrokes and countless other operators licensed in jurisdictions such as Gibraltar or the Isle of Man. That all changes October 1, when the UK’s new gambling laws take effect – or not – and all UK-facing operators are required to hold a UK-issued license.

The Commission has advised operators to submit their UK license applications by midnight on September 16, after which a two-week dead period commences and then it’s showtime. Two months after that, the UK’s 15% point-of-consumption tax (POCT) kicks in and Christmas gets cancelled at most UK-listed company exec’s homes.

The Commission’s figures show the UK’s total gambling market (excluding the National Lottery) was worth £6.7b, up $250m from the previous year. Nearly half (£3.2b) of the total came via retail betting operations, which were essentially flat year-on-year. Off-course horse betting revenue rose just 2% to £690m while football betting revenue was up nearly a quarter to £293m.

Revenue from betting shops’ notorious fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBT) was up a mere 0.3% to £1.55b. The FOBT in betting shops accounted for 67% of all UK machine gaming. The number of betting shops decreased by 45 to 9,021 while the number of people employed across the industry fell 3% to just over 104k.

Land-based casino revenue rose over 12% to £1.08b, representing 16% of the total gambling pie. Punto banco baccarat accounted for nearly one-fifth (£201m) of total casino revenue, nearly double what the game brought in the previous year, reflecting its popularity with both Asian gambling whales and Asian friends of Phil Ivey. Blackjack tied baccarat for second while roulette remained the top table game with £344m. However, blackjack and roulette were available at a combined 1,496 tables while only 150 tables were devoted to baccarat.

The Commission received 135 reports of suspicious betting activity between October 1, 2012 and March 31, 2014. Nearly 60% of these reports came from bookmakers, with the rest coming from sports governing bodies, police, media and the public. Of the bookies’ reports, 37 were submitted by UK-licensed operators while 43 came from jurisdictions that cooperate with the Commission on sports integrity issues.

July 01, 2014

Cameroon investigates match-fixing claims

Cameroon officials are to investigate claims that seven of their players were involved in match-fixing at the World Cup in Brazil.

The ethics committee of the African country's football federation will look at allegations of "fraud" by "seven bad apples" in their three group games.

The allegations have been made in a German newspaper by a convicted match fixer from Singapore.

Cameroon lost all their Group A games, including a 4-0 defeat by Croatia.

The Indomitable Lions had Alex Song sent off for lashing out at Mario Mandzukic in that game, while team-mates Benoit Assou-Ekotto and Benjamin Moukandjo clashed late on in the game.

A statement from Cameroon's FA read: "Recent allegations of fraud around Cameroon's 2014 Fifa World Cup three preliminary games, especially Cameroon versus Croatia, as well of the 'existence of seven bad apples [in our national team]' do not reflect the values and principles promoted by our administration, in line with Fifa's code of conduct and the ethics of our nation.

"We are strongly committed to employ all means necessary to resolve this disruptive matter in the shortest delays."

Fifa did not comment on whether it was looking into the issue as football's world governing body did not want to "compromise any possible investigations".
It did, however, add: "Speaking generally, the integrity of the game is a top priority for Fifa and as such we take any allegations of match manipulation very seriously."

June 29, 2014

29-Year-Old Poker Pro Johannes Strassmann Found Dead in Ljubljana

After receiving the results of a DNA test, Slovenian police confirmed that the body found in the river Ljubljianica on Friday is the one of German poker player Johannes Strassmann.

Strassmann, who was in Slovenia to meet with some local high-stakes players, was reported missing on Saturday, June 21, when he disappeared from Ljubljana's old town.

Since then, the local police had tried their best to find him, carrying out numerous operations across the whole country involving a large number of agents, helicopters, and search dogs.

On Friday morning, police found a body on the banks of the Ljublianica River in Ljubljana and performed a DNA test on it as the body was reported to be in too poor of a condition to proceed with an immediate identification.

Twenty-four hours later the test results came in, and authorities confirmed that the body was the one of 29-year-old Johannes Strassmann.

Slovenian police officer Vinko Stojnsek confirmed the identity match. "It is very sad to say that, but it is true," Stojnsek told PokerNews. "The body we have found on Friday is of Johannes Strassmann."

June 27, 2014

Bookmakers count cost of England’s early exit

British bookmakers are cursing their luck that England delivered such a dire display and see themselves dumped out of the World Cup at such an early stage. They had been been anticipating a monumental haul this tournament, one which would provide a financial breakwater ahead of the forthcoming tax changes.

William Hill predicted a turnover double that of the previous World Cup in 2010, to the tune of £200m. Despite England’s lacklustre showing however bookmakers remain positive due to the excitement created amongst gamblers by the array of high scoring and unpredictable matches.

“We are hopeful interest will remain high given the number of goals in the tournament and the free-flowing football,” explained Ciaran O’Brien, a Ladbrokes spokesperson.

A representative of William Hill, Kate Miller, stated how they are pleased with their current turnover and that “pre-tournament targets still remain achievable.” She moved on to say that though England bowing out is a blow, “they were always realistic about their likely performance.”

The general consensus amongst bookmakers is that, with the knockout stages not yet played, it’s too early to draw any overall conclusions from this campaign at this point.

After a fall in bets placed for the meaningless Costa Rica game Ladbrokes and Betfair have attempted to come up with solutions to maintain interest in the competition. Ladbrokes have offered to refund some losing bets from England’s 2-1 loss to Uruguay whilst Betfair have adopted a similar approach.

It’s an extremely difficult time for British bookmakers with the looming tax alterations and the recent general tightening of regulations which have seen share prices fall drastically. As such this World Cup gained enhanced significance with all seeking to gain a larger market share ahead of the changes. They are not the only victims however; pubs and bars, hopeful of a early summer treat with England’s games always certain to pack the place out, will also bear the brunt of another disappointing performance.

The tournament has at least confirmed the expected, continued trend for in-play betting and the popularity of betting via smart phone or tablet. With precious few draws in the competition so far bookmakers have been helped by the performances of Costa Rica and Chile who have surprised many with some excellent results.
Betfair’s James Midmer said how; “Costa Rica and Chile have been the bookmakers’ friends in the group stages.” Both made it through to the next stage with Costa Rica the shock package of the World Cup having beaten both Uruguay and Italy.