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Archive for February 14th, 2019

Majority of Swedes Support Gambling Ads Restrictions

The majority of Swedes support the introduction of restrictions on the way gambling products are advertised across Swedish media, a recent survey shows

Sweden’s new gambling law took effect on January 1, 2019, opening the local gambling market to international online gambling operators. Internationally licensed companies have long targeted Swedish gaming and betting customers, but they can now operate in a regulated environment with a license by the local gambling regulator, Spelinspektionen (formerly Lotteriinspektionen).

According to a recent report by the Swedish Institute for Opinion Surveys (SIFO), nine out of ten Swedes believe that there is far too much gambling advertising across Swedish media. The research house interviewed 1,153 people for the purpose of its survey.

Of all respondents, 87% said there is far to much gambling advertising. Around 76% of all interviewed individuals said that the current rules for advertising of gambling products across Swedish media should be tightened.

Responding to a question whether gambling advertising should be banned, 53% of all interviewed Swedes said that they believe so.

At present, gambling companies are able to advertise their products across Swedish television and other media under the country’s newly implemented gambling law. However, it should be noted that international operators had massive presence across Swedish media even prior to the enforcement of the new rules.

According to a report by local research firm Kantar Sifo, two unlicensed gambling operators were among the nation’s top advertisers in 2017. Kindred Group and LeoVegas, which are currently both licensed to operate in the Scandinavian country, invested a combined of nearly $100 million into advertising their products to Swedish customers in the twelve months ended December 31, 2017.

Swedish Minister Calls for Restrictions

The results of Sifo’s survey were released in the wake of comments made by Sweden’s Minister for Civil Affairs Ardalan Shekarabi that tighter gambling advertising rules might be in the making.

Minister Shekarabi told local news outlet SVT that the government would not tolerate excessive marketing and that further restrictions could be introduced so that Swedish people are not overexposed to gambling.

The official further pointed out that there apparently is frustration with how gambling products are marketed across media and that in his view, advertising should be moderate and socially responsible.

Minister Shekarabi went on to say that they have just gained control of the Swedish gambling market after two decades during which the space had been a literal Wild West and rules had not applied to all companies servicing Swedish customers, and that the possibility for the introduction of further restrictions was under serious consideration.

The Swedish Minister for Civil Affairs has summoned the 69 licensed gambling companies for a meeting on February 14, during which their marketing activities will be discussed.

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Gambling, Porn Apps Elude Apple Policing through Its Enterprise Certificate Program

Another scandal involving Apple’s Enterprise Certificate program is brewing just a week after news broke that Google and Facebook had misused said program to avoid App Store rules and collect user data

TechCrunch reported yesterday that it has uncovered that the developers of two dozens of gambling and adult content apps have used the Enterprise Certificate program to escape Apple’s oversight and the traditional App Store and Cupertino’s safeguards designed to keep inappropriate content away from iOS.

Apple strictly prohibits the distribution of pornographic content on its app platform, while gambling apps are allowed but are monitored thoroughly due to the nature of the services they provide.

Generally speaking, the Apple Enterprise Certificate program allows companies to release internal user apps intended for their employees only. As these apps are only aimed to be used internally, their certification is faster and avoids the much more complex process of releasing content on Apple’s App Store.

In a detailed report on the topic, TechCrunch explained that a number of developers have managed to upload gambling apps as well as ones that feature adult content by using the Enterprise Certificate program. Such developers being able to release their content via Apple’s tool exposed serious weaknesses in Apple’s safeguards regarding the content featured on its platforms, the tech news outlet further pointed out in its article.

Apple Took Immediate Action

Apple has disabled some of the pornographic and gambling apps on the heels of the TechCrunch report, but many are still operational. In a statement, a spokesperson for the tech giant said that developers that “abuse [their] enterprise certificates are in violation of the Apple Developer Enterprise Program Agreement and will have their certificates terminated.”

The statement further read that if found inappropriate, the apps will be removed completely from Apple’s Developer Program, indicating that the company is working to shut down the still operational gambling and adult content apps.

The tech company’s rules for using the enterprise certification program state explicitly that apps released under that program are to be used internally among employees of one company or another and not to be distributed externally.

However, TechCrunch has spotted serious failures in the Enterprise Certificate program’s policing of the companies that apply to join it. In general, applying developers only need to fill out an online form and pay a $299 fee to Apple to join the program. The online form only asks developers to pledge that their apps would be used internally, to provide a D-U-N-S business ID number, and to update their Mac to the latest version available.

Apple then calls the businesses within one to four weeks to ask them to reconfirm that the apps will be used by employees only and that they are authorized to represent their business. Developers can thus easily hide their true identity and intentions and circumvent the much stricter App Store rules to distribute content that violates the tech giant’s policies.

TechCrunch broke the news last week that Facebook and Google have abused the Enterprise Certificate program and have distributed apps externally to collect data from their users for competitive purposes. Apple temporarily disabled the two companies’ internal apps, leaving their employees at a standstill for certain important operations.

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Scientific Games Wins Bid to Power Turkey’s Sports Betting Operator

Scientific Games and a Turkish business conglomerate win the bid for the operation of Turkey’s state-owned sports betting brand

A joint venture between a company owned by the Turkish Football Federation’s boss and US gambling giant Scientific Games has submitted the winning bid in the tender for a sports betting provider for Turkey’s only legal betting company.

Reuters reported earlier today citing local media outlets that Turkish conglomerate Demirören Group and Scientific Games have joined forces to bid jointly for the right to provide a central betting system and a risk management solution for pari-mutuel and fixed-odds betting on different sporting events.

Demirören Şirketler Grubu, or Demirören Group, is partly owned by Turkish businessman Yıldırım Demirören. Mr. Demirören is the former Chairman of Istanbul-based sports club Beşiktaş, and the current President of the Turkish Football Federation.

With few exceptions, gambling is prohibited in Turkey. The state-run Iddaa is the only legal sports betting company in the country. The Turkish government launched last month a tender seeking bidders to provide Iddaa’s Spor Toto brand with a central betting system and a risk management solution that would power the provision of fixed-odds and pari-mutuel betting at retail betting locations throughout Turkey.

Interested participants were to submit bids in the form of revenue share agreements, stating the percentage of the total revenue generated bidders would like to collect in return for managing the sports betting product.

The Sans Girisim joint venture between Scientific Games and Demirören submitted an offer to receive 0.2% of the total revenue raised, down from its previous 2.1% bid.

Other Bidders

Spor Toto is currently operated by Inteltek, the joint venture between Greek gambling giant Intralot and Turkish telecommunications company Turkcell. Inteltek was too among the interested parties to submit an offer for the operation of the state-owned sports betting business and make it to the final bidding round.

The joint venture asked for a 0.5% share of the revenue generated in return for the operation of the sports gambling brand. Its final bid represented a decrease from 1.4% during the first bidding round.

The Turkish government launched the tender process for the operation of the state-owned sports betting business last month. The opening of the bidding round came with certain conditions interested companies had to follow in order for their bids to be eligible for consideration.

The approved candidate will have to establish a central betting system within the Anakara Province. It will also need to have experience in running a land-based sports betting network of at least 500 shops. The Turkish government aims to establish a network of 6,000 outlets around the country. The risk management center will have to be based in Turkey. The Spor Toto project will be required to employ at least 100 people, including management and technical support staff.

The Turkish government targets revenue of TRY17 billion (approx. $3.2 billion) during the first year of operation of the revamped sports betting business.

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Melco Selects GEK Terna and J&P Avax as Cyprus Casino Resort Contractors

Melco picks major Greek construction companies as the preferred contractors for its first casino resort outside Asia

Greek construction companies GEK Terna and J&P Avax have been selected as the preferred contractors for the development of the first integrated casino resort in the Republic of Cyprus, according to reports from local news outlets.

News emerged last week that Melco Resorts & Entertainment and its local partner Cyprus Phassouri (Zakaki) Ltd. were days away from announcing the company/consortium of companies that would build the City of Dreams integrated resort in Limassol. A consortium comprised of France’s Bouygues Construction Group and its Cypriot partner Cybarco, as well as Consolidated Contractors Company, one of the largest real estate developers in the Middle East, were the other two bidders in the race for the contractor that would be tasked with the major project.

Melco and its local partner were selected as the preferred developers and operators of what would be the first casino resort in the Republic of Cyprus in the fall of 2016. The companies received their license to operate the hotel and casino complex in Limassol in the summer of 2017. Under the terms of that license, Melco would also be able to operate four satellite casinos in addition to the gambling venue that will be part of the larger resort.

Two of those satellite casinos opened doors late last year – one in the Cypriot capital Nicosia, and the other at Larnaca International Airport. The other two – one in Paphos, and the other in Ayia Napa – are set to be launched later this year. A temporary casino is also currently operational in Limassol and will remain operational while the main resort is under development.

Now, as the contractor has been selected, Melco expects to break ground on its first integrated resort outside Asia by April. City of Dreams Mediterranean is expected to open doors in 2021.

Cyprus Moves to Combat Seasonality with Casino Gambling

Casino gambling had been banned in Cyprus for years, but had been a thriving industry as illegal operations had been conducted all over the tiny island nation, benefiting from its popularity with international tourists.

The government of Cyprus introduced casino gambling regulations as part of its efforts to combat those black market operations, but also to create a new type of entertainment that would enhance its efforts to turn the nation into a year-round tourism hub.

Melco’s integrated resort will be located in the Zakaki area of Limassol. The city has seen booming construction activity over the past several years and has been among the main contributors to the growth of Cyprus’ real estate market.

City of Dreams Mediterranean will feature a five-star hotel with 500 rooms, a casino with a number of slot machines and gaming tables (as mentioned earlier, the temporary casino in Limassol will shut down once the main resort becomes fully operational), meeting and convention facilities, food and beverage outlets, retail space, and a number of different attractions.

Melco and its local partner previously announced that they would funnel €550 million into City of Dreams Mediterranean, but it emerged earlier this year that the companies plan to increase their investment.

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