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!
Developments related to gambling activities in Kenya published in both Romanian and English in Casino-Magazine.ro
Brazil has the fifth largest population, and the ninth largest economy in the world, the country could easily be a significant market for sports betting. With a population approaching almost 220 million, Brazil’s online sports betting market could be worth over $1.15bn, as Senator Flexa Ribeiro pointed out. Although Brazilian online sports betting has been largely unregulated until now, online sportsbooks were legal. Attempts to ban online gambling prove how prevalent it is. The government in Brazil tried to ban online gambling payments way back in 2006, 2008, and most recently in 2010. Thus far, all attempts have failed. Furthermore, the Senate attempted to ban online sportsbooks in 2011. That measure also failed to gain sufficient support. The Brazilian Senate passed a bill in 2015 that proposed to regulate and tax online sportsbooks, and additionally creating two new lotteries.
Legal Grey Area
Former Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff vetoed the bill in 2015, and so far, online sports betting operates in a legal grey area. Although Brazilians love betting on sports events, there are not that many legitimate online sportsbooks in Brazil. Until now, Brazilian gamblers have accessed international online bookmakers that accept real money players from Brazil.
Regulations for online sports betting in Brazil
Online sportsbooks that cater to Brazilian bettors need to include South American and European football betting options. A legitimate Brazilian sportsbook provides betting on Jiu-Jitsu in mixed martial arts. Several Brazilian fighters participate in the MMA; therefore, sportsbooks will need to offer bet options on the UFC, as well as, the other significant MMA associations. Other popular sports in Brazil include South American and NBA basketball, along with horseracing. Sportsbooks will need to have all online sports bets in the Portuguese language. Sites should also support online transactions in Brazilian Reais.
New sports betting legislation
The Brazilian Congress finally approved the Provisional Measure (MP) 846. It was subsequently signed into Law 13,756/2018 in December 2018 by the President. The law authorises online sports betting and land-based betting, however, legislation is yet to receive specific enforcement regulations enabling licenses to be granted to private betting operators. The Brazilian Ministry of Finance will be the new regulator for legal sports betting on the country. It is estimated that another two years are needed to finalise all the specific regulations.
Since the Law 13,756/2018 was approved and sanctioned, the Brazilian sports betting market experienced a massive shift. There has been significant growth in advertising revenue for local soccer clubs. Increases have been noted in the number of soccer tournaments and leagues, sports ambassadors, and sponsorships. New land-based and online operations have sprung up as the projected increase in the betting volume takes effect. The new legislation sets out fixed quota betting for retail and online operators. Online operators will be obliged to pay back at least 89% of bets handled back to the customer.
Additionally, operators will have to pay a tax rate of 8% on their turnover. Out of these 8%, 3% is to be channelled into education, social security, along with law enforcement. Unexpectedly, approval of the bill was passed relatively quickly for the country, notorious for its cumbersome political system. The new political climate seems to be much friendlier towards gambling. The Senate Bill PLS 186/2014, passed this year, legalising online sports betting, online casino games and bingo was defeated by 13-2 in a senate vote.
Final Public Consultation
Potential sports betting operators in Brazil are being invited to a final public consultation. It is a chance to influence and shape the new gambling rules before they are carved in stone. The Ministry of the Economy in Brazil announced the consultation regarding proposed plans, and the regulation of online and offline sports betting. Interested parties had up until the end of September to submit their proposals and counter-reactions to the new draft decree. The document was initially launched in July, and attracted 1,850 submissions, with a third of them from industry types. The draft decree was the result of the ministry’s interpretation of submissions. However, there were apparently still several areas of uncertainty.
Moreover, the decree confirms both online and land operators will have to pay 1% tax on betting turnover. According to government estimates, that will work out at about 6% of the gross revenue from gambling. The draft decree does not contain any other information regarding fees or taxes; however, the government previously confirmed licensees have to pay an upfront fee of US$735, and monthly fees of BRL30k for online operators, BRL20k for land-based, and BRL45k for both at once. Applicants for betting licenses need to provide proof of financial reserves of $1.5m to ensure bettors are paid if the bookmaker encounters financial difficulties. All advertising for betting has to be accompanied by a responsible gambling messaging, and the online operators’ home pages need to be visible. Operators will not be permitted to make fun of the cultural beliefs or traditions in Brazil, or mock people who disapprove of gambling. Operators who are flouting the rules may face penalties amounting to 100% of their gross revenue. Repeat offenders are charged double the original penalty. Betting legislation was signed into law last year, allowing two years for the government to make the final betting regulations. The plan is to prepare and finalise the rules by December 2019, ahead of a betting market launch in June 2020. Operators are already salivating at the prospect of offering sports betting to Brazil’s 212m residents.