The effects of Coronavirus on sports betting have taken a big hit with cancellations of national leagues and major sporting events around the world. The Japan Olympics are postponed indefinitely, and EURO 2020 has been delayed until June 2021. The industry is facing unprecedented challenges, and the spread of Coronavirus continues. No one can say with any certainty when national and international sports will resume. With the largest countries in Europe and the USA under quarantine, lower league football teams are already facing financial difficulties.
How are betting sites coping?
With live sports suspended indefinitely, punters are turning to the only few options remaining. Online casinos are reporting increased online activity, so is eSports and virtual sports games. Horse racing may go ahead in some countries, less the crowd, and a handful of live events may still go ahead providing a trickle of events online bookmakers can exploit. One such event is the MML fight between Habib and Ferguson planned for April 19th. Betting sites are already offering odds for the eagerly anticipated battle. The silver lining is more people than ever before are going online and turning to alternatives. Land casinos have closed, and many of those players have gravitated to online casinos.
Trends and Diversification
We should not forget many bookmakers offer casino games. Another trend that is increasing is live dealer casino games such as those released by industry leaders. Online Poker, bingo, scratch cards are all viable alternatives to sports betting. Horse racing is set to continue behind closed doors, but unfortunately, the Grand National will not be held this year. Esports was already growing exponentially and will increase in popularity even more in the coming months. Virtual sports are the closest to the real thing for ardent sports fans. Sports betting companies and the media businesses that capitalised the industry are already cutting costs to keep afloat and trying to find creative ways to keep fans engaged while the sports world is in limbo. Online gambling companies are launching betting pools around politics or TV shows, as well as looking to smaller, international events that are still ongoing like horse racing, rugby.
Fantasy Video Sports
All eyes are on the Autumn NFL season as the next comeback opportunity for sports betting fans. Sportsbook operators are in a tight spot, as they own massive casinos and retail locations that have been hit worst. Online gambling providers are including daily fantasy and virtual sports to weather the economic climate. Sports leagues and associations, like NASCAR, are starting to turn to video gaming simulations or Esports which could provide new betting opportunities. The Coronavirus isn’t just affecting people’s health, but it has begun to affect sports matchups worldwide. It is causing a ripple effect on the betting market. Multiple organisations from Italian soccer to the NBA have discussed precautions for playing games due to the global outbreak.
Contingency Plans and Alternatives
Sportsbooks are preparing for upsets by underdogs due to the shakeup that is being caused by the illness. Every sport has the same plan set should they need it. That is, to keep playing the schedule without fans. Games would be played without fans behind closed doors, but played, nonetheless. The NBA informed teams with a memo that if there was a risk of Coronavirus infection, they should prepare to play without any fans in the stands. However, some athletes won’t agree with such measures. Coronavirus could make for an unexpected payday for those gambling on sports events. Payouts will be higher on the underdog. The worst-case scenario is to have the games played without fans in the stands but might be the only option. Athletes have been informed of the Coronavirus symptoms, and each player will be evaluated and tested before playing in the Championship. Either way, it is safe to say the entire sports industry is on top of the virus outbreak and they are taking proper, responsible precautions to avoid the further spread of the virus. In doing so, they have created what could be an extremely lucrative spread for all future sports events and those who love to bet on them. While sports fans may not be able to attend games, they will still be able to wager on them.
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The gaming market in Colombia is the first jurisdiction in Latin America to set up a regulated online gambling environment. The eGaming Act was approved in 2016, and since then, the Colombian gambling market has been open to licensed operations. Colombia and Latin America have been targeted by major players in the industry due to the immense potential the region holds. Recent studies point towards a spike in demand for online gambling services in past years in the area. That has led to a surge in the number of gambling operators and service providers becoming interested in investing in local markets. The positive reaction is that multiple jurisdictions are considering the possibility of legalising online gambling and opening up their markets for online gaming with licensed operations.
Paving the way for Latin America with Legislation
Colombia is essentially paving the way for countries like Mexico and Brazil to follow suit and fine-tune and update their existing gambling laws meet contemporary demand. Colombia is moving away from its notorious status as a drugs capital. With recent headway made to end decades of conflict and revolutionary between militia groups, Colombia is finally emerging from that shadow. Colombia’s emergence as a jurisdiction for online gaming stems from Law 643, that is a 2001 provision aimed at increasing regulation of the gambling industry. Over 60% of Colombian adults regularly place wagers and are enthusiastic about gambling. Land-based casinos, slot parlours, bingo and lotteries are currently legal in Colombia. The state passed a set of laws in 2008 outlining the rules for the operation of slot halls and casinos. All operators were required to abide by the new set of regulations to continue operating in the country. The law stipulates casinos can only operate in commercial venues with the main activity being gambling. All electronic gambling games must be connected to a national information database network, and also follow the protocols.
Colombian eGaming Act
The Colombian government introduced measures to block any gambling website that does not follow proper licensing procedures. The Colombian eGaming Act contains a set of rules that govern the operation of online cash gaming activities, including poker, casino games, and sports betting. Instead of having to obtain separate licenses for every type of gambling, operators can opt for one license covering all activities. Moreover, to operate legally in Colombia, operators need to pay a licensing fee of around $200,000 a year and 15% tax on gross gaming revenues.
Colombian Gambling Authority
The gaming industry in Colombia is regulated by a governing body, just like other jurisdictions. The El Consejo Nacional de Juegos de Suerte y Azar (Coljuegos) ensures operators follow the protocols and legal requirements. The organisation replaced the defunct Empresa Territorial para la Salud (ETESA) in 2011 due to allegations of rampant corruption. The Coljuegos was responsible for drafting new gambling legislation and regulations, enabling it to exert a tighter grip on gambling activities and increase revenues.
Building on the Past
The Colombian government was restructured under a new Constitution in 1991, and Law 643 was enacted. The objective was to organise the prevailing, unsupervised collection of casinos, bingo halls, and slot parlous. However, by 2001, gambling was entirely controlled by underworld figures and paramilitary organisations that plagued the country for generations. The new rules proved successful, and under the guidance ETESA, Columbia saw its tax revenue from gambling increase by over 500%. Nevertheless, up until 2008, illegal gambling was rampant to such an extent that 20% of all betting on the county was unlawful, and 20,000 out of the country’s 65,000 slot machines were unlicensed. ETESA issued ten new gaming licenses by 2009, extended operations of 9 other venues, and renewed 22 permits for existing gambling enterprises. Colombia is only rivalled by Argentina in terms of South American casino operations. Cartagena, San Andrés, and Bogotá are home to many casino establishments. ETESA was disbanded in 1012 following a series of corruption scandals; however, the agency has been replaced by Coljuegos.
A Growing Market and Future Challenges
Colombia has a population approaching 50 million and an expanding economy that is fast becoming a hotbed for gambling activities. One of the most significant challenges the Coljuegos faces is to modernise the existing system of issuing gambling licenses to regulate the online gambling industry. A new draft was presented by the Coljuegos in 2016 outlining the new regulations for online gambling. Changes in Colombian gambling laws means operators need more starting capital; however, it will help players develop a sense of trust. Prior to the Coljuegos taking control of gambling activities in Colombia, the system was rife with corruption and illegal gaming activity. The association was formed to eliminate bribery and illicit activities, thereby creating realistic regulations that fully reflect modern gambling trends, and increase revenues. These positive changes are already attracting betting companies to set up operators in Colombia and growing revenues through taxes and licenses. The Colombian gambling regulator Coljuegos has already granted an iGaming license to locally owned betting company Aquila Global Group, which was the first authorised by the regulatory body. Colombia’s regulated online gambling market closed strongly in 2019, while over 1.7m new customers registered in 2018. Colombia has steadfastly persevered through years of turmoil to become a shining example for South American countries to follow in terms of gambling legislation. The online gambling industry in Latin America is about to be transformed, and Colombian law is the catalyst!
La Rioja is looking to become the second province in Argentina to regulate online gambling.
The state gambling regulator Administración Provincial de Juegos de Azar (Ajalar) has signed an agreement with its counterpart the Provincial Institute of Lottery and Casinos (IPLyC) of Misiones to develop a safe and responsible online gambling market for La Rioja.
The IPLyC of Misiones launched its own online betting and gaming site in December 2015 through Misionbet.com.ar, in defiance of the national lottery association La Asociación de Loterías, Quinielas y Casinos Estatales de Argentina (ALEA).
The site was taken offline in May 2017 on the orders of the Buenos Aires prosecutor following complaints from ALEA that the site accepted bets from Buenos Aires residents.
It resumed operations in January 2018 after a court overturned the ban and restricted its offering to players located in Misiones.
La Rioja’s gambling regulator said that it will leverage the experience of Misiones to develop iGaming regulations that allow adults in the province to play games from their mobile and desktop devices.
“It is important to note that we aim to innovate the development of gambling by integrating new information and communication technologies, which does not mean that there will be no limitations to prevent gambling,” said Ajalar administrator Ramón Vera.
The American Gaming Association (AGA) has partnered with the Association of Gaming Equipment Manufacturers (AGEM) to launch a new campaign to combat the unchecked spread of illegal gaming machines across the US.
The campaign will focus on providing state and local policymakers, law enforcement, and regulatory agencies with new resources and tools to stop the proliferation of unregulated gaming machines, targeting key states such as Pennsylvania, Missouri and Virginia where the spread of unregulated machines has been particularly extreme.
The two associations have released a fact sheet that distinguishes between the regulated casino, lottery and distributed gaming markets and the unregulated, highlighting the negative consequences of the spread of illegal machines.
This includes an increase in criminal activity and a lack of player protections, along with potential solutions to combat the problem by establishing small state and local government task forces.
“Stamping out the illegal market that threatens the safety of consumers will always be one of the gaming industry’s highest priorities,” said AGA president and CEO Bill Miller. “We are proud to work with the Association of Gaming Equipment Manufacturers and our fellow industry partners to combat the spread of illegal machines.
“The AGA is encouraged that policymakers in some states such as Virginia have begun to recognize the dangers of these machines and have taken recent legislative action toward outlawing them. Unfortunately, other jurisdictions where these machines have become pervasive may believe their only recourse is to regulate and tax them. Rewarding bad behavior is not the answer, and we hope our education efforts will make it clear that the only real solution is to stop the spread of these devices.”
AGEM executive director Marcus Prater commented: “The regulated gaming industry has rarely been more united on a singular issue and now we have a tool to address the misinformation and deception that unregulated machine companies use to confound law enforcement, the courts, and local citizens.
“The spread of these machines represents a serious threat to the overall regulated market that has invested billions in infrastructure while also creating thousands of jobs and substantial tax benefits in the communities they serve. Moreover, unregulated machines prey on confused players who see slot machine symbols and think they’re getting a fair chance when they absolutely are not.”
More than 20 gaming associations have joined the AGA and AGEM in opposition to the spread of illegal gaming, including the National Indian Gaming Association, the North American Association of State and Provincial Lotteries, the International Center for Responsible Gaming, the National Council on Problem Gambling, multiple state casino and tribal associations, and both of the leading independent gaming equipment test labs.
Spain’s gambling regulator has launched a public consultation into new marketing and responsible gambling regulations.
Gambling regulator La Dirección General de Ordenación del Juego (DGOJ) published the Draft Royal Decree on Commercial Communications for Gambling activities on February 24, with public responses due to by March 16.
The new regulations are designed to strengthen the 2011 law under which Spain’s regulated online gaming market launched in 2012, since when gambling advertising has increased unabated to the point of sparking a public backlash.
The draft royal decree states that parliamentarians share the public’s concern and aim to balance the commercial interests of operators with adequate protections for consumers, particularly young people.
The 138-page document sets new responsible gambling requirements for operators and also introduces new rules for advertising, promotions and sponsorship.
The new marketing regulations apply to gambling operators and their affiliates and prohibit them from advertising using brands, trademarks or commercial images they do not own, as well as prohibiting any reference to another operator’s games or intellectual property without authorisation.
All advertising must be truthful and socially responsible so as not to promote excessive gambling, and the use of imagery such as luxury products or money will be considered a breach of the social responsibility requirement. Ads that encourage the viewer to share the message of the ad with others will also be deemed irresponsible.
In addition to general rules regarding responsible gambling messaging and preventing children from being exposed to gambling advertising, the draft royal decree sets specific rules by gambling activity and medium.
Sponsorship agreements involving naming rights to sporting venues will be prohibited, as will any naming rights related to sports teams or any other entity outside the betting and gaming sector. Sponsorship of well-known figures and their use in marketing is also prohibited.
No promotional offers will be allowed for new customers above €100 in value, with the draft also giving the regulator authority to set limits on the value of promotions to existing customers.
Bonuses must be shown separately from deposited funds in a player’s account and the bonus rules should not prevent players from withdrawing deposited funds, while loyalty bonuses can only be offered without requiring players to complete a number of bets or games for the bonus to be released.
Players who have increased their deposit limit must be excluded from promotions for a period of 30 days after the increase, and no promotions may be sent to players who have closed their account.
Free games can only be offered to registered players who are logged in and must accurately replicate the chances of winning compared to the real-money version of the game so as not to give players a false impression.
Radio and television advertising will only be allowed between 1am and 5am, although live sports broadcasts between 8pm and 5am may include ads which do not reference promotions or bonuses of any kind; calls to action such as ‘bet now’; or early cash-out or odds.
Operators must not use well-known characters in ads, real or fictional, with exceptions for characters made famous by the ad and narrators of live broadcasts, and all commercial communications must be immediately identifiable as such.
The advertising rules also set exemptions for pari-mutuel betting, instant lotteries and bingo, which may be advertised from 10pm to 6am in programming rated 18+.
The restrictions do not apply to lottery draw games, which may be advertised freely except for before, during and after programming primarily aimed at children.
Gambling promotions on Twitter and other social networks will also be restricted, with every post from an operator’s official account deemed to be a commercial communication, excluding graphical representations or retransmission of a sporting event.
Every fourth post must be a responsible gambling message and operators must make use of any tools available from social networks to prevent minors from following their accounts.
The draft decree also sets out the requirements for a comprehensive social responsibility policy, including problem gambling prevention mechanisms, self-exclusion and self-prohibition, and compliance.
The Draft Royal Decree on Commercial Communications for Gambling Activities is scheduled to come into force on July 1, 2020.
Developments related to gambling activities in Kenya published in both Romanian and English in Casino-Magazine.ro