The Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) is on track to approve its first online gaming and sports betting licensees following a public hearing Wednesday on the proposed rules for the new activities.
The MGCB opened the licensing process for the state’s commercial casinos and tribes in July, with the state’s online gaming and sports betting legislation requiring the Board to issue licenses to at least one tribal and one commercial operator ahead of the opening of the online market.
The ability to issue licenses is dependant on the proposed rules for internet gaming and internet sports betting, which will now be submitted to the Michigan Office of Administrative Hearings and Rules and the Legislative Service Bureau for final review and certification. The rules will then be submitted to the Michigan Legislature’s Joint Committee on Administrative Rules in October.
“Before online gaming can start, the agency must license applicants. The MGCB has limited ability to license before the rules go into effect. The licensing timetable also depends on the applicants and their delivery of complete and timely applications to us,” said Richard S. Kalm, executive director, MGCB. “Michigan must have at least one tribal and one commercial license approved before launch, which I hope can happen by late fall.”
With the state’s online licenses reserved for tribal operators and Detroit casinos, numerous partnerships have been agreed since the start of the year. PointsBet will be the exclusive sports betting and online gaming operator of the Lac Vieux Desert Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians, while the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians have partnered with Flutter Entertainment’s FOX Bet.
Scientific Games has partnered with the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of Potawatomi, William Hill with the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, Kambi with the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi, Golden Nugget with the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community, Churchill Downs Incorporated with Hannahville Indian Community, Rush Street Interactive with the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians, DraftKings with the Bay Mills Indian Community, and FanDuel with MotorCity Casino.
Michigan’s land-based sports betting market opened in March of this year under legislation adopted in late 2019.
Casino supplier NetEnt has expanded its reach in Pennsylvania’s regulated iGaming market with the rollout of its games to the Poarch Band of Creek Indians’ Wind Creek casino.
NetEnt is providing its range of online slots and table games to the operator in Pennsylvania, including local top performer Divine Fortune.
“It’s an exciting time to be adding iGaming to our offering in Pennsylvania’s online arena, and with NetEnt’s portfolio of market favourite casino games we are in a strong position to quickly gain market share,” said Ken Rohman, chief marketing officer at Wind Creek Hospitality. “We look forward to working with their knowledgeable team to build on our offering and deliver a first-rate online experience to our players.”
NetEnt secured license approval in Pennsylvania in March 2019 and holds agreements to provide its content to a number of local operators, including Greenwood Gaming and Entertainment’s Parx Casino and Penn National Gaming.
“It’s a major achievement to be supporting Wind Creek in its online journey,” said Brian Kraft, NetEnt vice president commercial, Americas.
“The deal underlines our status as a go-to supplier in Pennsylvania both with established operators and emerging brands. Given the strong performance of our content with local players, this partnership will no doubt see Wind Creek make a big impact in the online landscape.”
Shares in NetEnt AB (STO:NET-B) were trading 2.05 per cent higher at SEK74.50 per share in Stockholm Tuesday morning.
Iowa’s licensed sportsbook operators collected total wagers of $50.3m in August, of which more than two-thirds was generated online.
Total wagers from the state’s 18 licensed sportsbooks increased by 120 per cent compared to the previous month’s $22.9m total, with online sports betting contributing $35.0m and retail sports betting $15.3m.
The William Hill sportsbook at Prairie Meadows Racetrack & Casino maintained its market leadership position with $14.2m in wagers, including $13.3m from online.
The next biggest operator was the DraftKings sportsbook at Wild Rose Jefferson with wagers of $5.5m (including $5.4m from online), ahead of William Hill/Isle Casino Hotel Waterloo’s $4.3m ($4.2m online) and Ameristar II’s $3.9m, all generated from retail.
Riverside Casino and Golf Resort collected wagers of $3.7m in August, with Diamond Jo-Worth taking $3.0m in wagers, and Isle of Capri Bettendorf booking $2.3m during the month, just ahead of Q Casino’s $2.2m.
Horseshoe Casino Council Bluffs generated wagers of $1.9m during the month, ahead of Catfish Bend Casino’s $1.4m, Grand Falls Casino Resort’s $1.3m, with Wild Rose Clinton and Hard Rock Casino both contributing $1.2m.
Rhythm City Casino, Wild Rose Emmetsburg and Lakeside Casino each generated a further $1.1m in wagers, with Diamond Jo Dubuque contributing $743,393 and Harrah’s Council Bluffs Casino & Hotel $149,249.
A total of $47.3m was paid out in player winnings in August, including $33.4m in online payouts, resulting in net receipts of $3.0m for the month, up from $2.2m in July. The state’s licensed operators paid out $202,316 to the state in taxes, compared to $151,919 last month.
China’s lottery market recovered in July as total sales increased by 10 per cent year-on-year to RMB36.15bn (€4.48bn).
With lottery sales negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic throughout the first half of 2020, July marked a return to growth following a 3 per cent year-on-year decline in June.
Welfare Lottery sales climbed 3 per cent to RMB15.44bn in July, while Sports Lottery sales rose 17 per cent to RMB20.71bn.
A total of 28 Chinese provinces grew lottery sales compared to the same month last year, including Guangdong, Jiangsu and Shaanxi.
Scientific Games Lottery
For the first seven months of 2020, total lottery sales were 35 per cent lower than a year ago at RMB160.05bn, with Welfare Lottery sales down 34 per cent at RMB74.72bn and Sports Lottery sales down 36 per cent at RMB85.33bn.
The European Commission has decided to launch a formal investigation into a potential breach of state aid rules in a case involving the Belgian state and betting operator Ladbrokes.
The case was first notified to the European Commission (EC) in March 2019 and concerns the exclusive authorisation granted to Ladbrokes in 2014 to operate virtual betting games in Belgium.
The exclusive right to operate virtual betting was challenged by two rival gambling operators whose request for authorisation was denied by the Belgian Gaming Commission, which said at the time that it was reviewing the relevant gambling legislation.
The EC said Wednesday (Sep. 2) that it has decided to initiate a formal investigation procedure into the possible distortion of competition in the field of virtual betting in Belgium, although the basis for its decision is yet to be made public.
France’s regulated online betting and gaming market recorded a 6 per cent decline in gross gaming revenue (GGR) to €323m for the second quarter of 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sports betting was the worst affected segment due to the suspension of major sports, with GGR falling by 56 per cent year-on-year to €94m following a 57 per cent reduction in stakes to €513m.
Horse race betting GGR rose 33 per cent to €88m, despite the cessation of French horseracing until 11 May, with bettors able to continue betting on foreign horse races, pushing total horse racing betting stakes up 35 per cent to a quarterly record €362m.
Online poker saw the biggest growth in Q2 as GGR soared 126 per cent to a record quarterly high of €142m.
Q2 AND H1 2020 GROSS GAMING REVENUE COMPARISON (€)
Q2 2020 Q2 2019 % Change H1 2020 H1 2019 % Change
Sports Betting 94m 214m (56%) 356m 436m (18%)
Horse Race Betting 88m 66m 33% 162m 133m 21%
Poker 142m 63m 126% 239m 131m 83%
TOTAL 323m 342m (6%) 758m 700m 8%
Overall total active players fell by 9 per cent to 2,019,000 during the quarter, with average spend per active player down 32 per cent at €86.
Sports betting active players fell by 36 per cent to 1,093,000 in Q2, offsetting a 2 per cent increase in horse race betting actives to 319,000 and a 68 per cent improvement in poker actives to 1,064,000.
For the first half of 2020, total GGR across the market increased by 8 per cent to €758m, despite an 18 per cent drop in sports betting GGR to €356m. Horse race betting GGR rose 21 per cent to €162m, while poker GGR increased by 83 per cent to €239m.
Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality are significantly impacting the worlds of entertainment and gaming. It was only a matter of time until they spread to the world of online gambling. With the first virtual reality online casino launched in 2015, players could explore 3D games and interact with others in a detailed, real-time environment. Since then, game developers have been striving to popularise VR online gambling. AR has an advantage over VR. All you need is a tablet or a phone. Besides reducing the cost, AR online casinos can be accessed anywhere, just like a mobile casino.
Let’s start with the most apparent difference between virtual reality and augmented reality. The advanced technologies are shaping the future of human-computer interaction, virtual gaming, and online betting. They are already being used across multiple disciplines and industries. The VR revolution has been accompanied by a rise in the popularity of augmented reality (AR). While augmented and virtual reality have similar names, they are far from identical.
What are Virtual Reality & Augmented Reality?
Virtual reality enables users to interact with a virtual world. A simulated reality based on sight and hearing is created and stimulated. The objective is to immerse the user entirely into a virtual world, thereby preventing them from seeing the real world. Virtual Reality is approximately 75% virtual and 25% authentic. The technology generally requires a VR headset equipped with loudspeakers and a visual display encompassing the entire visual field. Augmented reality, on the other hand, amplifies users’ real-world surroundings adding on virtual interactive features for users. Augmented Reality does not attempt to block out the real world or immerse the user. It overlays graphics and animation over real-world environments. AR uses different mediums like headsets, apps, and digital cameras.
The Online Betting Connection
Online casinos and betting sites have been continuously evolving and improving since the first casinos appeared online in the mid-90s. Online casino games and betting possibilities were previously restricted to home computers; however, they are now enjoyed by millions of users worldwide on mobile devices. Most online casinos today have adjusted their approach to focus more on mobile gamers. Moreover, some of them are ready for virtual reality. Betting sites have been quick to adopt new technologies to stay ahead of the competition and providing
users with the ultimate online gambling experience.
The Future of Online Betting & VR/AR Technology
Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality are about to transform online gambling. The near future will see VR technology providing online bettors with an entirely immersive gambling experience. The experience will block the outside world, replacing it with real-world or imagined environments. Augmented Reality serves to provide the interactive element of a real-world setting by adding digital layers of information to it. The technology is similar to that used by Snapchat lenses and Pokemon Go. A VR headset equipped with sensor gloves and a screen is used. When VR comes together with AR, they create a Mixed Reality (MR). This brand-new technology is starting to take off, for instance, with Microsoft’s HoloLens. A few online casinos are already offering virtual reality rooms. The next logical step is to integrate virtual reality and augmented reality.
The VR Casino Experience & Sports Betting
VR has infiltrated the gambling industry. Players are treated to a virtual environment. They can then play in a 3D environment where they can compete against one other, just like a real casino. The technology is capable of transporting players to famous locations and casinos in Las Vegas for an entirely immersive and realistic gambling experience. Players can play roulette, blackjack, poker, and slots at a Vegas Strip casino, and they can even communicate between themselves. Virtual Reality is already gaining ground, with AR in development to take virtual gambling up to a higher level. The technology will enable the superimposing of real-world objects onto a digital environment. Players will be able to see others through an enhanced environment with detailed visualisation and realistic sound. This can provide tactile physical sensations allowing players to interact more intensively with objects from the virtual world. How will it work? Players will be able to visualise the dealer enter the room. They can shake hands, hold cards, and press slot machine buttons. The technology provides players with a comprehensive 360° environment in view. They can then freely see everything going on at other tables and decide which one to join.
The Effect on Land-Based Casinos
The long-term effects on land casinos will be profound, particularly since social distancing has become a reality. You will be able to enjoy an immersive and greatly enhanced experience from your home. There are still few barriers stopping the implementation of VR and AR on a large scale on online betting. Despite AR taking huge strides in many industries, it is yet to catch on in a big way at online betting sites. The cost factor for VR hardware is still to be determined. Moreover, AR software for online casinos is still in development, as is the equipment. As technology advances, it becomes more affordable and is ready for integration with online betting sites and casinos. The technology will be capable of integrating with advanced graphics and sensory experiences, so immersion becomes easier to achieve. It may define the future of the online gambling industry.
In the early days, the Internet gambling industry struggled to attract casual gamblers. They did not seem to trust the algorithms, preferring to play against real dealers. At that time, the option was not available. Today, most online casinos offer live dealer games. Most online operators use the latest WebCam technology. However, it is suitable for table games like blackjack, baccarat, roulette, and other table games. Slots and video poker were off-limits. VR will further enhance the fun element in online betting. You can play immersive live dealer games and interact with live dealers. The versatile technology will be easy to implement in online slots. They continue to top the popularity charts at online casinos. You will genuinely feel like you are in a real casino when spinning the reels of slot machines or playing video poker. Live dealer games will feel far more realistic than presently when you are wearing a VR headset and seated at a virtual table. It is highly probable that the online betting and casino industry will spearhead VR innovation. The technology will allow operators to bring back the poker face and restore the lost shine of online video poker. The future of online betting will be tied closely to VR and AR technology. The benefits will be felt for years to come.
The provincial lottery of Rio Negro in Argentina has filed a criminal complaint against more than 100 online gambling websites following a surge in unlicensed iGaming during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Rio Negro Lottery filed the criminal complaint Friday with the province’s public prosecutor under Article 301 of the penal code, which prohibits any unauthorised gambling activity which poses a threat to public health or lottery profits.
The complaint addresses 130 unlicensed online gambling websites, with those convicted under the law facing a maximum penalty of six years imprisonment.
The lottery has also established a hotline for players to provide anonymous tips about unlicensed operators, and will conduct an extensive communications campaign in the province to raise awareness of the risks associated with illegal gambling.
Scientific Games Lottery
As part of the crackdown, one local lottery agent has been raided and shut down for its part in an illegal online gambling operation.
Sportsbooks in Illinois have resumed remote account registrations after Governor JB Pritzker reissued a series of executive orders aimed at combatting the spread of COVID-19.
The requirement for in-person sportsbook account registrations was first suspended on June 4 but came back into force on July 26.
Since then, Illinois has seen a surge in new COVID cases, with 20 counties now at a ‘warning level’ for coronavirus compared to 14 counties a week ago.
As a result, Governor Pritzker reissued more than 30 executive orders Friday to slow the spread of the pandemic, including the suspension of in-person account registration requirements for sports betting.
The in-person registration requirement will remain suspended until at least September 19.
Lotto New Zealand has outlined plans for a new technology platform after experiencing disruptions due to surging demand for online lottery products.
Lotto New Zealand has recorded nearly 200,000 new online registrations since COVID-19 related restrictions came into force in March, with online sales last week accounting for 40 per cent of total lottery sales compared to 25 per cent prior to the lockdown.
“To support the move to online play, and the big increase in the number of people playing online, Lotto NZ is making a substantial investment in the upgrade of MyLotto,” said NZ Lottery chief executive Chris Lyman.
“While this work is underway we have been making interim improvements. However, regrettably there have been some issues on MyLotto. This has in turn resulted in some pretty poor customer experiences, and for that I sincerely apologise.”
Lyman added that the lottery expects to complete upgrades to the existing MyLotto website and app by early 2021, with a new gaming platform scheduled for deployment in 2024, including the full replacement of the back-end gaming system that supports MyLotto, as well as all terminals in retail stores.
Scientific Games Lottery
“We have significantly more people buying tickets online now than ever before. Nearly 200,000 people have registered to play online since 25 March – to put this into perspective, this is the number of new online players we would expect over a two-year period, not four months,” Lyman said.
“We sold around 2.5 million tickets for [Friday’s] draw, and over a million of those were online. This is the most tickets we have ever sold online. This slowed down our processing significantly, and unfortunately led to delays.”