Wilkie Pushes for Social Casino Games Ban

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A push to ban social casino games by an Australian MP has gained nationwide momentum.

Tech Guide reports that Independent MP Andrew Wilkie said a ban on social casino games would help reduce gambling-related harm in Australia.

He introduced a bill to parliament in 2020, with the Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill’s only objective to drive a nationwide ban on social casinos.

If the bill passes, Australia would prohibit social casino gaming, in addition to an existing ban on iGaming.

According to the Interactive Gambling Act, parties found guilty of participating in or facilitating online gaming would be required to pay a fine, of up to $220,000, with companies liable to pay $1.1 million.

Reclassifying social casino gaming as a form of gambling from its initial entertainment status would put it on the same level as iGaming.

From Mr Wilkie’s perspective, social casinos have paved a way for the thriving iGaming scene.

Casino operators on offline and online casinos platforms also ensure that only adults can access their products, with free online games allowing players to place wagers and win real money without depositing anything in their accounts.

A social casino game is an app or website where you can play popular casino games like roulette, poker machines and blackjack with your friends as virtual versions of the physical game.

Online gambling surge amid UK lockdown

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Britons stuck at home due to coronavirus are hitting the online casinos, providing a boost for operators of virtual games such as blackjack and roulette.

Bloomberg reported in February that 888 Holdings Plc said Tuesday it’s seen increased customer activity in the casino and poker operations that make up the majority of its revenue, echoing comments made on March 19 by gambling technology firm Playtech.

The “encouraging” update from 888 reinforces the view that gambling companies can mitigate losses arising from the cancellation of sporting events.

Gavin Kelleher, an analyst at broker Goodbody, said in a note.

888 got about 15 per cent of revenue from sports betting in 2018.

888 stock soared as much as 38 per cent Tuesday, the most ever, paring a plunge that followed widespread postponement of sports from soccer to horse racing as well as broader concerns about the virus’s impact on the economy.

The shares are down 33 per cent in the year, much less than the 77 per cent drop for bookmaker William Hill, which relies more on sports.

Among 888’s closest peers, Gamesys Group Plc has risen about 32 per cent since the firm said March 17 it’s seeing “good momentum across the business”.

But despite Playtech’s comments, its stock is down about 56 per cent over the past month.

Peel Hunt analysts Ivor Jones and Douglas Jack warned last week that Playtech’s live casino operation requires a large number of employees to be in the same place at the same time, operating tables that are streamed to people playing online.

Germany approves online gambling

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The heads of Germany’s 16 states have recently approved the proposed legalisation of online casino games and online poker from July 1, 2021.

Casino News Daily reported that at the start of 2020, Germany implemented an experimental sports betting regulatory regime outlined in the country’s Third State Treaty on Gambling.

Under the gambling law that will remain in effect until June 30, 2021, international companies that want to operate in Germany must obtain licences from the competent licensing body – the Darmstadt Regional Council of the state of Hesse.

Such companies can only conduct online sports betting activities.

Online casino and poker products are prohibited under the Third State Treaty on Gambling.

The recently approved gambling law that will take effect from July 1, 2021, expands regulated online gambling services to casino and poker and beyond sports betting for the very first time since German lawmakers first launched their effort to introduce regulated online gambling.

While Germany’s iGaming market is set to be expanded, it should be noted that when it happens, operators conducting regulated wagering and gaming activities will be subjected to heavy limitations.

William Brown

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