Gambling blocks, social media & ditching the curfew: the week in numbers

Each week, CasinoBeats breaks down the numbers behind some of the industry’s most interesting stories. In our latest edition we revisit financial performances, ongoing turmoil at Crown Resorts, gambling transaction block urges, and social media rules.

11

Debbie Husband, national director of operations for Grosvenor UK, has asserted that it is “absolutely vital that casinos remain hitched to the wider hospitality sector”.

The comments come in a Betting and Gaming Council blog, as the UK and devolved governments draw up plans for easing lockdown restrictions following a “year of enormous frustration”.

Husband states: “Had that frustration been underpinned by any scientific evidence, we’d have sucked it up. But it wasn’t. All the evidence pointed to casinos being safer than vast swathes of businesses and industries which were able to trade.”

With a timetable and criteria for emerging from the current lockdown said to be forthcoming, Husband also urges the need for curfew mandates to remain a thing of the past.

“Far more critical for us, right now, is the need to confine the ill-fated ‘curfew’ to the dustbin of 2020,” she continues. “Who can forget the images of jam-packed tube stations and heaving High Streets at 11pm when the curfew kicked in? I’m yet to see or hear of any credible evidence which suggested that curfew worked. All I know is that it crippled the casino sector.”

35

Nevada casinos have began easing capacity restrictions that were imposed to combat the COVID-19 health crisis, as the Silver State Governor Steve Sisolak outlined the latest steps in the region’s ‘Road to Recovery’ strategy.

From early last week, casinos, alongside a range of other establishments that include food and beverage outlets, places of worship, gyms, arcades, bowling alleys and similar activities, could increase capacity to 100 individuals or 35 per cent of fire code capacity, whichever is less.

Alongside the ten per cent capacity increase, organisations are also permitted to begin submitting plans for large gatherings, however, no such events can resume until March 1 and only granted approval by applicable local health and state authorities.

75

The Spelinspektionen, Sweden’s Gambling Authority, issued a warning and penalty fee to four of its licensees, each of which are brands of the ComeOn Group, totalling SEK 75m (£15.12m) for what it calls “unauthorised bonus offers”.

Gaming companies with a Swedish license may only offer their customers a bonus at the first gaming opportunity, with the regulator saying that it has found that Casinostugan, ComeOn Sweden, Hajper, and Snabbare “violated the legislation by offering bonuses on repeated occasions”.

Furthermore, the Spelinspektionen adds that it “also believes that by distributing gifts to vulnerable players, the companies have breached their duty of care in relation to the players in question”.

3

UK digital bank Monzo has sent an open letter to the government calling on gambling transaction blocks to be made available to everyone.

Joining forces with researchers, charities and other organisations, the group is calling on the government to consider three key changes as part of the ongoing Gambling Act review.

This includes the introduction of a new requirement for account providers in the UK to make sure every consumer can access a friction driven, card-based gambling block regardless of who they bank with.

The letter, signed off by TS Anil, CEO of Monzo, among others, also calls on the government to take steps to future proof these tools and address new developments in the online gambling market, to ensure “comprehensive payment blockers and harm reduction measures work today, next year, and in the decades to come”.

18

The Betting and Gaming Council has drafted a new set of rules which are aimed at preventing football clubs from using their official social media accounts to promote gambling offers.

Amid much pressure surrounding the issue of such advertisement being placed through the social media channels of football clubs, the BGC cites a concern that “children may be exposed to betting adverts on social media platforms”.

The move also comes as particular questions become increasingly raised surrounding gambling adverts posted by clubs on their official Twitter accounts.

Under the new BGC code of conduct, calls to action or links to gambling websites would not be allowed on organic tweets on the social media feeds of football clubs, with bans also applying to any display of direct bonuses or odds which cannot be solely targeted at over-18s.

2.2

Crown Resorts is to face an inquiry to determine whether the group is fit to hold a licence to operate its Perth casino, after the Gaming and Wagering Commission of Western Australia recommended such an action.

This follows an inquiry undertaken in New South Wales, led by former Supreme Court Judge Patricia Bergin, which determined that the company is unsuitable to operate the $2.2bn Crown Sydney Hotel Resort.

Subsequently, the GWC has formally recommended an independent inquiry under the Casino Control Act 1984 be established under the direction of the minister for racing, gaming and liquor into matters uncovered by the Bergin Inquiry specific to Crown Perth operations.

44.4

A continued worldwide sporting expansion is being eyed by Aspire Global throughout 2021, as the group lauds a diversified offering in spearheading its charge to become “a powerhouse for igaming operators”.

With the US continuing to represent a region of “important growth potential,” Aspire lauds Q4 progress made in Europe, through game studio and aggregator Pariplay; and LatAm via BtoBet, its B2B sportsbook provider, as key milestones as 2020 drew to a close.

The comments come as the firm reports 2020 fourth quarter revenue of €44.4m, an increase of 37.6 per cent year-on-year from €32.2m; an EBITDA increase of 89.9 per cent to €8.9m (2019: €4.4m); and net income of €4.2m, compared to a loss of €11.6m a year earlier, in its latest account.

Record high revenues and EBITDA during the quarter, as well as the full year, was driven by organic growth and acquisitions, says the company.

100

New Jersey online casinos surpassed $100m in revenue to kick-start the year, becoming the first legal gaming jurisdiction in US history to cross that threshold in a single month.

With the performance coming alongside more than $950m in wager at the region’s sportsbooks, analysts are suggesting that it sets the stage for the Garden State to potentially reach $10bn in sports bets and more than $1bn in online casino revenue for the year.

Online gaming and poker generated $103.8m in January, up 88.4 per cent from $55.1m in 2020, yielding $15.5m in taxes and surging beyond the previous record of $99.5m set just one month earlier.

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