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Archive for February 13th, 2019

Italy Awards Online Gambling Concessions… Finally

Italy has finally granted the concessions for the provision of online gambling services in the county after a lengthy process marred by multiple delays

The Italian gambling authority, Agenzia delle dogane e dei monopoli (ADM), released yesterday the list of the approved candidates that will be allowed to operate in the local market. Their licenses will be valid through December 31, 2022.

The list includes local gambling operator Lottomatica as well as the local subsidiaries of major international companies such as bet365, The Stars Group, and GVC Holdings, among others.

ADM has awarded as many as 66 concessions. It has also issued licenses to four other companies but will treat them with reserves for reasons it said it would communicate to the licensees themselves. Those four companies are Scommetendo SRL, Spati SRL, Sogno Di Tolosa, and Universal Solutions SRL, known to be the owner of the Betium online gambling brand.

Rabbit Entertainment Ltd (owner of Lapalingo and Lord Lucky Casino), Lottomatrix Operations Limited, Piper Limited, and Betclic Limited were among the aaplicants that were not awarded a concession or had withdrawn their application to participate in Italy’s online gambling market.

Was Italy’s License Application Process a Disappointment?

Italy was expected to launch the license application process back in the fall of 2017. However, due to multiple delays, ADM eventually began accepting applications from interested operators in January 2018.

The regulator said back then that it would cap the number of concessions available to 120, expecting massive interest from local and international companies. However, it received only 80 applications from around 70 operators by the end of the application process. The concessions were to be granted by the end of 2018, but Italian gambling regulators missed that deadline, as well.

A license for the provision of online gambling services in Italy comes with a €200,000 price tag, which means that the country could have collected €24 million from its concessionaires, if its projections for massive interest in its licenses process proved true. It will now collect significantly less, with the total license fee bill coming at €13.2 million.

Meanwhile, the blanket ban on gambling advertising in Italy has apparently begun taking its toll on the country’s regulated market. According to local gaming news outlet Agipro, three unlicensed online gaming operations currently top Google’s search charts for the term “online casino” in Italy. One of the unauthorized operations is based in German, the other in Israel, and the third is licensed in Curacao.

Opponents of the recently implemented ban on all forms of gambling advertising have predicted that the move would only benefit the black market and it seems that really might be the case.

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Former Ve Global CEO Heads AI-Powered Casino, Betting Business

The former head of tech company Ve Global is reportedly courting investors in a bid to raise $100 million to boost his brand new online gambling venture

Morten Tonnesen, who took over the reins of former tech unicorn Ve Global after its crash and burn in 2017, is now spearheading an online gambling project, the Press Association has reported.

Mr. Tonnesen is no stranger to the world of gambling. Prior to his role at Ve Global, he had served as the Group Head of Marketing for online poker giant PokerStars.

Mr. Tonnesen’s brand new online gambling business will focus on the provision of online sports betting and casino gaming services. Come this summer, the operation will initially target the online gambling markets of the UK, Germany, Spain, and Bulgaria as well as Latin America. It is also understood that it will consider expansion into the US betting and gaming space at a later stage.

Branded BetWarrior, Mr. Tonnesen’s business promises to take online gambling to the next level and to provide customers with “the right balance of fun, adrenaline and challenge in a safe and healthy environment.”

BetWarrior’s website lists another PokerStars alumnus as the business’ co-founder. Former PokerStars Group Marketing Director José Del Pino is, too, part of the establishment of the new online gambling business. Mr. Del Pino had led PokerStars’ expansion across the lucrative Latin American market as well as the US.

Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence at the Core

BetWarrior is based in Barcelona, as per its official website. It aims to combine leading sports betting and casino products into a “the best mobile product.”

Explaining what BetWarrior really is, Mr. Tonnesen says on the business’ website that it is a product that:

customises itself to the individual player using machine learning and artificial intelligence is the norm in more and more industries. We aim to be the first to really deliver this in e-gaming and lead the future development of the sector

Online casino games are expected to go live this summer. BetWarrior’s CEO is reportedly seeking to raise $100 million to finance acquisitions of tech providers, sports news companies and smaller online gaming and betting operators.

Mr. Tonnesen’s business interests also extend to the vibrant world of cryptocurrencies. He has prominently been involved in several ICOs, including CasinoCoin, the digital currency designed for the regulated online gaming industry, and chiliZ, the digital currency for sports entertainment platforms spearheaded by Media Sports & Entertainment founder Alexandre Dreyfus. It is to be seen whether Mr. Tonnesen’s interest in crypto will manifest itself in his new online gambling venture and in what way.

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Washington Lawmakers Bring Sports Betting to the Discussion Table

Washington’s antipathy toward gambling seems to be thinning as it has just joined the flurry of states to be considering the legalization of sports betting

A bill calling for the legalization of sports gambling at the state’s tribal casinos appeared in the Legislature late last week and is set to be discussed later this week. Sponsored by Majority Caucus Chair Eric Pettigrew, House Bill 1975 aims to authorize physical and mobile betting, but both would only be allowed within tribal gaming facilities, the Seattle Times reports.

If the piece of legislation gains traction in the Legislature, it will represent the first major gambling expansion in Washington, which has traditionally been extremely conservative on everything gambling-related.

The proposed legalization of wagering on different sports arrives several months after the US Supreme Court struck down a long-standing federal ban on the practice. The landmark ruling paved the way for individual states to legalize sports betting if they feel inclined to do so. Seven states have joined Nevada in offering full-scale betting services since the SCOTUS decision, and lawmakers in a number of other states are discussing the legalization and regulation of the activity.

It was in 2015 when Washington lawmakers attempted to legalize an activity associated with gambling. A legislation authorizing daily fantasy and full-season fantasy sports was introduced back then, but died quickly in the state Legislature.

Paving the Way for Negotiations

Following the recent introduction of the sports betting bill, Washington lawmakers and regulators told local media that while the legislation might look a bit too restrictive, that was not the case. Chris Stearns of the state’s Gambling Commission told the Seattle Times that the limits in the bill “are actually not very big” and the piece does not “say very much”, but that it opens the door for the state’s tribes to operate sports betting “based on what they negotiate.”

Mr. Stearns went on to say that if HB 1975 gains the necessary support in the Legislature and takes effect as a law, it will be at least a year or two before legal sports betting goes live in the state as negotiations between the state and the tribe can take a while before they are finalized.

As mentioned above, the piece provides for the legalization and regulation of in-person and mobile betting but only within the confines of the state’s tribal casino. The bill thus follows Washington’s long-maintained policy of considering all forms of gambling illegal “except where carefully and specifically authorized and regulated.”

The sports betting legislation is set to appear before the House Committee on Commerce and Gaming on Thursday.

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Bloomberry Secures Funding for Quezon City Casino Resort

Bloomberry has been extended a loan to fund the development of a new Solaire-branded casino resort in Quezon City

Two units of Philippine hotel and casino operator Bloomberry Resorts Corp. have secured a PHP40 billion (approx. $767 million) loan to fund the construction of an integrated resort in Quezon City, the company said in a Monday filing to the Philippine Stock Exchange.

The two Bloomberry subsidiaries that have been extended the loan are Sureste Properties Inc. and Bloomberry Resorts and Hotels Inc. They have signed an omnibus loan and security agreement to obtain a 10-year combined loan facility with seven banks.

Bloomberry said Monday that the funds will be used by the two companies to partially fund the “design, construction, and development of an integrated hotel and gaming resort” at Vertis North Complex in Quezon City, Metro Manila.

Construction of the integrated resort is expected to commence in mid-2019. The property will occupy a 1.5-hectare site within Vertis North which Bloomberry acquired from the Philippine National Housing Authority back in 2015. The new property is anticipated to open doors in 2021 or 2022.

The hotel and casino operator currently manages Solaire Resort & Casino, a $1.2 billion integrated resort that opened doors in 2013 along the Bay City area of Parañaque, Metro Manila. The property was the first of four integrated resorts within the so-called Entertainment City, a multi-billion development project approved by the Philippine government as part of its strategy to enhance the country’s tourism product.

What We Know About the Quezon City Casino Resort Project

Bloomberry announced plans to extend its portfolio of properties last summer. The company said back then that it would build a hotel and casino resort in Quezon City and that the property would operate under the Solaire brand.

Bloomberry was yet to secure funding for its future hotel, gaming, and entertainment complex at the time. The company said back then that it would present a master plan in January 2019.

The gaming and hospitality company is owned by Philippine businessman Enrique K. Razon. Mr. Razon has been cited saying that they intend to develop a high-rise property in Quezon City as the portion of land they own there does not allow for a sprawling property.

The new resort will include a hotel, a casino, and multiple food and beverage and entertainment facilities. Bloomberry has said previously the property will cater to the mass market.

As mentioned earlier, the Philippine company currently manages Solaire Resort & Casino in Manila’s Entertainment City. The property features 800 hotel rooms, suites, and villas, a casino, dining and entertainment areas. Bloomberry also owns Jeju Sun Hotel on South Korea’s Jeju Island.

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