Norsk Tipping will see its marketing presence curtailed from the start of 2021 as part of an overhaul of gambling advertising rules in Norway.
From 1 January, the Norwegian Media Authority will have the opportunity to stop TV advertising from overseas gambling companies. From the same date, the Ministry of Culture will also tighten the guidelines for Norsk Tipping and Norsk Rikstoto, limiting their advertising to what is necessary to channel consumers away from unlicensed private operators and towards the two state-owned operators.
The new guidelines will, among other things, mean that the use of tools in Norsk Tipping’s marketing of high profits and money for good causes will be toned down. The new guidelines also increase the requirements for responsible marketing, with all advertising to include contact information for a gambling helpline services.
The introduction of the Norwegian Media Authority’s new tool for stopping gambling advertising on television and subsequent tightening of the guidelines of Norsk Tipping is part of the government’s preventive work against gambling problems. The government said the decision to act came in the wake of the University of Bergen’s ‘Extent of gambling and computer gambling problems in Norway in 2019’ survey which showed an increase in gambling problems compared with the previous survey from 2015, in part due to the impact of advertising.
“It is serious that gambling problems in the population increase, and we are working on a number of measures to reverse this trend,” said Abid Raja, Minister of Culture.
“The possibility of stopping TV advertising from foreign gambling companies is an important measure in the work of preventing gambling problems. With less gambling advertising on TV, we can also tighten the guidelines for Norsk Tipping’s marketing.”
Earlier this month, Norsk Tipping introduce a series of temporary measures that will run throughout December and January designed to reduce spending and playing time.
The operator reduced the maximum monthly loss limit on its high-risk games by 25%, with customers only permitted to lose up to NOK7,500 (£634/€707/$845) each month when playing KongKasino, eFlax, Bingoria and Yezz.
Norsk Tipping also increased the mandatory break players must take after playing continuously for one hour, with this rising from 90 seconds to 15 minutes.
“We know that gambling problems are increasing in the population, and that December is our biggest gambling month,” Norsk Tipping chief executive Åsne Havnelid said at the time.
“The measures against novel coronavirus (Covid-19) mean that more people can experience spending more time alone than they usually do during the Christmas month. For vulnerable players, this can lead to more gambling, and we want to prevent that.”
At the same time, the Norwegian government announced that it will commit an additional NOK15m to problem gambling efforts in the country.
The new funding came after the Norwegian Industry Association for Online Gaming (Norsk Bransjeforening for Onlinespill/NBO) in October called for a complete rethink on rules relating to the sector in its official response to the country’s proposed new gambling legislation.
According to the NBO, the bill, which seeks to unify the existing Lottery Act, Gambling Act and Totalisator Act and maintain Norsk Tipping and Norsk Rikstoto’s monopolies in the market, would mean poor standards of protection and value for customers.
Instead, the NBO advocates a licensing model for private operators, with a tax rate of 15%, which it said would result in an expected channelling rate of more than 95%.
Pennsylvania broke its sports betting and online gambling revenue records in November, though declining land-based revenue led to a year-on-year drop in the state’s monthly total.
Total gambling revenue in November amounted to $283.3m (£209.3m/€231.1m), down 2.7% from $292.1m in November 2019 and also 11.5% lower than the $320.2m posted in October this year, according to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) figures.
The decline came despite another strong performance from the sports betting vertical, with revenue after promotional credits reaching a record $37.4m, up 153.7% and surpassing the previous record of $36.8m set in October this year.
Online sports betting accounted for $31.2m of this total, compared to $6.2m from retail wagering.
Players spent a total of $491.9m on sports betting in November, an increase of 55.4% on last year, but short of the record ($525.8m) set in October 2020.
The Swedish Gambling Market Commission (Spelmarknadsutredningen) has delivered its long-awaited report on the regulation of igaming, though the conclusions suggest further pain ahead for the country’s licensees.
The report was commissioned in June 2018 to examine additional measures to those set out in the Gambling Act that came into force from January 2019.
The scope of the inquiry was then amended in April 2019 to look at solutions to limit gambling advertising, following a surge of operator promotions in the wake of the market opening.
It was led by special investigator and former member of parliament Anna-Lena Sörenson, and also considered potential levies to ensure fair returns to horse racing and other sports. The prospect of a mandatory levy on operators taking bets on horse racing was dismissed by Sörenson in October.
As with the potential levy on horse racing, the inquiry dismissed calls for a statutory levy on sports. It argued that with 90% of betting stakes placed on international sports, this would do little to benefit local sports. Furthermore, it added, it would risk reducing consumer interest and sponsorship for professional sports in the country, by making betting on local events more costly.
“The inquiry’s overall assessment is that it would not be appropriate to introduce either the funding model that has been considered for the horse sector or special copyright-like protection for sport in order to compensate the sports movement for its events being used as an object of gambling,” it said.
Despite rejecting the levy calls, the inquiry has concluded by recommending a series of more stringent controls on the market.
First, it recommended additional measures to stamp out unlicensed activity – something being explored in a separate investigation – such as a licensing system for software providers and strengthening controls to stop offshore businesses operating in the country.
In particular this would comprise the express prohibition of promoting unlicensed gambling, as well as extending the prohibition on broadcast advertising for illegal gambling to cover foreign stations and video sharing platforms.
However, it then looked to tighten controls on the licensed market. It suggested that the country’s gambling regulator Spelinspektionen should develop a risk classification for gambling products, that could inform its supervisory efforts.
The games seen as having the highest level of risk to players, meanwhile, would be banned from advertising between the hours of 6am and 9pm.
The SEK5,000 deposit cap temporarily imposed on casino games, it added, should be made permanent. Spelinspektionen would then be able to review how effective the measure is after a few years in force, and make a decision on raising or lowering the limit.
Spelinspektionen, the inquiry concluded, should also ramp up efforts to clarify the duty of care expected of operators in their dealing with customers.
Furthermore, it proposed passing a new law to set out reporting requirements for operators, that would allow both Spelinspektionen and other relevant authorities to better track developments across the regulated market, and make changes where necessary.
Finally, the inquiry argued in favour of relaxing bonus requirements for gaming businesses that generate funds good causes, such as lotteries.
It explains that there is little risk of players developing problems, and to ensure they can compete against private operators, they should no longer be restricted to offering players a single bonus upon sign-up.
While it touched upon loot boxes and the prospect of regulatory restrictions on the video game mechanic, the inquiry concludedthat the Gaming Act is not the appropriate place for such controls. Instead, it said, Sweden should look to develop these rules at European Union, rather than national, level.
“This has been a complex assignment that has touched on a large number of different issues linked to gaming regulation, which in some cases have required difficult trade-offs,” Sörenson said. “I believe that the proposals we come up with today can both contribute to strengthening consumer protection and make regulation more appropriate.”
Minister for Social Security Ardalan Shekarabi added that the Swedish state had a “great responsibility” to protect consumers, both by shutting out unlicensed operators and ensuring licensees behaved responsibly.
“Spelmarknadsutredningen’s report will form an important basis for the Government’s forthcoming measures.”
The prospect of new restrictions on a licensed sector that has faced strict measures since the launch of regulated igaming in 2019 was greeted with dismay by operator association Branscheforenigen för Onlienspel (BOS).
“Sweden has invested in a licensing system with 102 operators that offer a high level of consumer protection, they pay around SEK4bn annually in gaming tax, invest in workplaces and staff, sponsor Swedish sports and contribute to Swedish technology know-how,” BOS secretary general Gustaf Hoffstedt said.
“Banning licensed gaming companies from marketing their services to Swedish consumers while leaving unlicensed companies free to offer their services to Swedish consumers is a bad proposal.
“This only leads to reduced consumer protection and to erode the Swedish gaming market.”
Total GGR for the month amounted to $3.38bn in October, which was 7.0% lower than in the same month last year, but 6.0% higher than in September this year, according to figures published by the American Gaming Association (AGA).
The October figure also represented the highest monthly total since February, prior to casinos having to temporarily close due to the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
The majority of states posted a month-on-month increase in commercial GGR, while Ohio, South Dakota, Iowa, New Jersey and Pennsylvania also reported yea-on-year growth.
The figures showed that despite ongoing capacity restrictions on activities at land-based casinos, slots were by far the main source of income for commercial operators in the US.
West Virginia’s licensed casino operators collected a record $121.1m in combined wagers from sports betting and iGaming during the month of November.
The state’s five sportsbooks saw total sports betting wagers increase by 47 per cent year-on-year to $48.5m for the four-week period ended 28 November.
This comprised $20.1m from retail sports betting and $28.4m from online sports betting, an increase of 20 per cent and 74 per cent respectively compared to the same period last year.
NOVEMBER SPORTS AND IGAMING WAGERS COMPARISON (US$)
Sports Betting iGaming TOTAL
Hollywood Casino at Charles Town 25,405,027 43,942,612 69,347,639
The Greenbrier 17,885,533 28,621,341 46,506,874
The Mountaineer 3,733,376 n/a 3,733,376
The Mardis Gras Casino 953,661 n/a 953,661
Wheeling Island Casino 554,844 n/a 554,844
TOTAL 48,532,442 72,563,953 121,096,394
Penn National Gaming’s Hollywood Casino at Charles Town maintained its market leadership position as November wagers increased by 28 per cent to $25.4m, including $10.4m from DraftKings’ mobile sports betting app and $15.0m from retail sports betting.
The Greenbrier saw wagers soar 111 per cent to $17.9m, derived from mobile sports betting wagers of $16.9m from FanDuel and BetMGM, with retail contributing $944,472 in wagers.
The Mountaineer was the next biggest operator as wagers rose 3 per cent year-on-year to $3.7m, including retail wagers of $2.9m and online sports betting wagers of $821,116 from William Hill’s mobile app.
The Mardi Gras Casino generated wagers of $953,661, of which $779,379 came from retail and $174,281 from the Bet Lucky mobile app, while the sportsbook at Wheeling Island Casino contributed $554,844 in wagers, comprising $512,629 from retail and $42,216 from the Betly mobile app.
During November, a total of $43.5m was paid out in winnings during the four-week period, alongside $655,283 in voided bets, leaving the five sportsbook operators with total taxable receipts of $4.4m, an increase of 91 per cent versus a year ago.
Meanwhile, the state’s newly regulated iGaming market, with just two operators active during November, generated wagers of $72.6m, an increase of 37 per cent compared to the previous month.
Hollywood Casino and partner DraftKings generated iGaming wagers of $43.9m, with The Greenbrier contributing $28.6m through BetMGM’s online casino.
A total of $71.8m was paid out in iGaming winnings during the month, generating revenue of $2.1m for the two operators, an increase of 31 per cent month-on-month, comprised of $1.1m for Hollywood Casino and $913,964 for The Greenbrier.
The West Virginia market is expected to grow further from December following the entrance of New Jersey’s iGaming leader Golden Nugget through a partnership with The Greenbrier.
Sweden’s Consumer Agency has warned online gambling operators against using anti-money laundering regulations as an excuse to complicate players’ withdrawal requests, one of a number of issues identified during its review of gambling companies contract terms.
The Consumer Agency (Konsumentverket) reviewed the terms and conditions of 13 licensed online betting and gaming operators in Sweden earlier this year and identified a number of issues faced by consumers, with the findings applicable to many operators in the regulated market.
The overall conclusion of the agency is that many of the terms and conditions employed by operators are unfair to consumers, either by restricting their rights or presenting misleading or vague information.
Based on the review, the agency has made recommendations to licensed operators which will be evaluated over time to assess the industry’s compliance.
The first issue highlighted concerns the submission of documents by players.
The agency notes that Swedish gambling legislation allows operators to request information and documentation from players in a number of instances, such as registering a new account, making a deposit or requesting a withdrawal, in order to verify identity and for anti-money laundering purposes.
However, the review found that some operators go beyond what it considered reasonable by requesting information about personal attributes such as height, weight, eye colour and ethnic origin.
Some operators also reserve the right to request additional information for anti-money laundering purposes, without explaining what the additional information may entail, while others use the term “at our discretion” to decide which documents to request and when.
This lack of prior information could be considered unfair to consumers because it creates an imbalance between the parties.
The Consumer Agency also found that some contracts include restrictions on withdrawals at the operator’s discretion, including split payments, maximum withdrawal amounts and refusal of withdrawals due to alleged breaches of the terms.
Although it acknowledged that operators cannot provide an exhaustive list of conditions to consumers, the agency found that this can lead to uncertainty which could make it is impossible for the consumer to know on what grounds the company can refuse their request.
It also found that operators should be able to assess the AML risk of a consumer based on the information provided at deposit, meaning that additional documentation requests on withdrawal could be interpreted as the gaming company making it more difficult or delaying the consumer’s right to withdraw their winnings.
Other issues highlighted include terms stating that a foreign court has jurisdiction over disputes arising from the contract, which creates an imbalance in law as the consumer cannot be expected to understand the law of the foreign court. This also applies to the use of foreign alternative dispute resolution bodies, and the implied suggestion that the consumer is not protected under Swedish law.
Operator’s complaints procedures were also found to be opaque or burdensome, while the right to amend terms and conditions at an operator’s discretion and without notice was found to be unreasonable.
Eleven of the 13 operators reviewed also included disclaimers which fully or partially waived liability to the consumer, while the consumer remained liable to the company, again creating an imbalance in law.
“Following the review, the Swedish Consumer Agency is of the opinion that there is significant room for improvement at the audited gaming companies,” the agency said. “There are contract terms that may generally be considered unclear and in some case inexhaustive.
“Terms must be compatible with applicable law and clearly stated to lead to a balance in the parties’ performance, so that the consumer runs less risk of being hit by unfair conditions.”
The agency added that it will follow up the review to determine the extent of the industry’s compliance with its recommendations.
Future Anthem chief executive Leigh Nissim believes the pace of change in the sector has just shot up a level.
What a month, what a year! The online gambling sector never stands still and has constantly evolved from download software through to mobile, live and beyond. Even by its own rapidly changing standards, surely these last few months and weeks have brought changes no-one could have imagined, and at lightning speed, too.
For an industry that is often criticised for poor operating practices (often justifiably) and saddled with a negative public perception, it is rarely applauded for its ability to adjust to market dynamics, consumer consumption, regulatory influences and technological advancements.
UK Plc seeks success stories while the government chases unicorns, yet the gambling industry is full of them. High-growth businesses like GVC and Flutter continue to outperform the FTSE index and lead the way in regulated US markets. William Hill has accepted an offer from a US leader, clearly keen on its technology and sports betting knowhow. Gamesys continues to delight with strong trading performance, while smaller public companies like Gaming Realms are also making great progress.
This is only part of the story. UK gambling is leading the way in terms of player safety. The Betting and Gaming Council recently published its Game Design Code, a guide to how casino products should be built responsibly – a significant step forward. The Gambling Commission and Facebook announced new guidelines for gambling advertising, alongside changes earlier in the year for UK sports and TV advertising. There are new rules for VIP schemes, credit cards are no longer accepted, and other consultations are still in progress.
The international terrain is also changing – Evolution finally made its move for NetEnt, who had only recently made its own move acquiring Red Tiger. After 17 years, Scientific Games also has a new significant shareholder – Caledonia – which also holds 10 per cent of Flutter. Rush Street and Golden Nugget have become public companies on the NYSE, and Penn National has raised $982m.
The sector is not immune to Covid-19 either, with every business experiencing challenges. Like its leisure brethren, retail gambling was shut for many months globally, and is still constrained. Online businesses accelerated their shift to remote working. Rightly so, responsible gambling processes are under greater scrutiny than ever before.
The seismic shifts that are changing our industry for the better would probably kill other sectors with the ferocity and pace of change. The technologies behind these entertainment businesses are colossal, processing international currencies and risk management in microseconds, with huge compliance infrastructure as you would expect in a regulated global industry. Yet its ability to adjust, innovate and compete continues.
So exactly what might the sector look like in a year’s time? The US will clearly be a focus, both for European companies seeking to gain a foothold, and also for incumbents facing the shift from retail to digital. Regulations will continue to influence, with stake limits popping up in mainland Europe, a review of gambling laws in the UK and additional advertising restrictions. Operating practices will come under greater scrutiny, with games studios being required to take more responsibility for safer product design. Operators will seek ways to differentiate and studios will need to combine to achieve scale, with those producing high performing content attractive to acquirers.
How long will it be before mainstream media and digital companies move in, attracted by the robust earnings of global gambling companies built in the UK and mainland Europe?
At Future Anthem, we are expecting data to play an ever-increasing role, from personalisation through to product design and player safety. While the sector grapples with the sea of changes, the Spotify generation will expect a better entertainment experience from gambling companies.
While it is hard to predict the next 12 months, one thing is for sure – the sector will continue to change at pace. And that is one of my favourite aspects of the industry – it never stands still. And with change comes opportunity.
Germany’s sports betting licensing authority approved three new operators this week, taking the total number of licenses issued to date to 21.
The latest approvals were granted to Oddset Sportwetten, the sports betting operation of German state lotteries, and Malta-based operators NetXBetting and Tipster.
Oddset received a license to offer retail betting, while NetXBetting was approved to offer online betting and Tipster both online and retail betting.
Following this week’s approvals, 21 companies are licensed to offer sport betting to German players via 28 internet domains.
LICENSED SPORTS BETTING OPERATORS IN GERMANY AS OF 24 NOVEMBER 2020
Company Online Retail Domain(s)
Admiral Sportwetten GmbH X X admiral.bet.de
BV (Germany) Ltd. X betvictor.de
Bwin (Deutschland) Ltd. X bwin.de
Cashpoint (Malta) Limited X X xtip.de
Gamebookers (Deutschland) Ltd. X gamebookers.de
Greenvest Betting Limited X neobet.de
Hillside (Sports) ENC X bet365.com
I.B.C. Sportsbetting Ltd. X X wettarena.de
JAXX GmbH X sportwetten-jaxx.de
Ladbrokes (Deutschland) Ltd. X ladbrokes.de
NetXBetting Ltd. X sportwetten.de
Oddset Sportwetten GmbH X —
Sportingbet (Deutschland) Ltd. X sportingbet.de
Tipico Co. Ltd. X X tipico.de
Tipin Ltd. X X tipbet.de
Tipster Limited X X tipster.de
Tipwin Limited X X tipwin.de
Trinity Bet Operations Limited X X de.hpybet.com
The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has identified four illegal online gaming sites that will now be blocked by Australian internet service providers.
The four websites are accused of providing online casino games to players in Australia, in breach of the Interactive Gambling Act.
The ACMA said Wednesday that it requested ISPs to block access to the sites after receiving numerous complaints from Australian consumers, taking the total number of blocked gambling sites to 180 since the first blocking request in November 2019.
The new additions are all Curacao-based casinos – Gibson Casino, operated by Cyberrock Entertainment; Always Vegas, operated by SSC Entertainment; Gammix STS’s ViggoSlots; and Merus UK’s Malibu Club Casino.
Sweden’s licensed gambling operators grew third quarter revenue by 1.3 per cent year-on-year, according to the latest data from gambling regulator Spelinspektionen.
The data is based on information from the Swedish tax authority and shows that licensed operators, both online and land-based, generated total gross gaming revenue of SEK6bn in the third quarter of 2020.
Commercial online betting and gaming GGR grew by 5.8 per cent year-on-year to SEK3.69bn, with revenue from state lottery and slot machine games climbing 7.7 per cent to SEK1.47bn. Other non-profit lotteries saw revenue climb by 5.4 per cent to SEK780m.
This growth was partially offset by the performance of land-based casino operations (Casino Cosmopol), which generated no revenue during the period due to COVID-related closures, compared to revenue of SEK245m in Q3 2019.
The third quarter period also saw declines in non-profit retail bingo, where GGR fell by 20.4 per cent to SEK47m, as well as retail commercial gaming (incl. restaurant casinos), where revenue fell by 23.7 per cent to SEK45m.
There are currently 100 companies holding active gaming licenses in Sweden, 72 of which are licensed to offer commercial online betting and gaming.
The data also shows that just over 56,000 people had excluded from gambling using the national exclusion register Spelpaus by the end of the period, an increase of 7 per cent versus the previous quarter, with the number of self-exclusions climbing to almost 58,000 by mid-November.
Alongside the Q3 data, Spelinspektionen also voiced its support for the proposed extension of temporary gambling restrictions in Sweden, which were first introduced in July in an effort to combat problem gambling during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The proposal to extend restrictions on online casino deposit limits and land-based gaming machine loss limits was the subject of a public consultation which ended today (23 Nov.).