UK Gambling Industry in the News — Weekly Round-up for July 13, 2018

UK Gambling Commission Study Of Harmful Gambling Published

Regulator worked with GambleAware and Responsible Gambling Strategy Board in formulating framework

On Tuesday the UK Gambling Commission announced the publication of a “ground breaking” approach to understanding the full range of harms gambling can have on society.

The study was was led by Dr Heather Wardle, on behalf of the Responsible Gambling Strategy Board (RGSB) – which provides independent advice to the Gambling Commission. The report is the result of close collaboration between the Gambling Commission, GambleAware as funding body, and RGSB, and it calls for views on how the social cost of gambling-related harms can be measured and better understood.

Mapping out for the first time methodology that could be used to quantify the impact gambling can have on relationships, finances and health, the report seeks to:

  • Agree a definition of gambling-related harms that can be used by policy makers and public health officials.
  • Explore how the social and economic impact of gambling-related harms can be better understood, measured and monitored.
  • Set a framework for action that considers how the impact of harms can be felt by individuals, families and communities.
  • Identify the most effective way to estimate the social cost of gambling-related harms.

Gambling Commission CEO, Neil McArthur said in a Commission statement:

“While the majority of consumers can enjoy gambling without experiencing harm, we cannot forget the devastating effects it can have on some individuals, families and communities. This report shows significant progress in understanding those effects and measuring the impacts on wider society and the economy as a whole.

“We do not see this as a definitive position – it’s very much a work in progress. We encourage public health officials, academics, the industry and the public to feed back on the report and work with us to set a framework that can help prevent harm to consumers.”

Project leader Dr Heather Wardle added: “This report is a dramatic step forward in our understanding of gambling. It represents a sea change in thinking about gambling as it recognises that gambling isn’t something that affects just a few individuals but extends far beyond them to affect their families, communities and society”.

Marc Etches, chief executive at GambleAware observed: “Problem gambling is a public health issue that can have serious economic and social consequences not only for individual gamblers but also family, friends, communities and society. This is why this project, led by Dr Heather Wardle of RGSB and funded by GambleAware, is so important. We need urgently to improve our understanding of what gambling, and its wide-reaching knock-on effects, is costing us.”

View the report here: http://www.gamblingcommission.gov.uk/PDF/Measuring-gambling-related-harms.pdf

First Dedicated UK Fantasy Cricket Platform Launched

StarPick launches in conjunction with 3-year shirt sponsorship of Gloucestershire County Cricket Club

StarPick, which claims it is the world’s first fully comprehensive fantasy cricket platform, has been launched in the UK following its successful debut earlier this year in India, with 650,000 users acquired in just 90 days.

Co-founded by Trigam Mukherjee, Rohit Nair, and Ulf Ekberg, StarPick will offer the first fully comprehensive fantasy cricket platform in the UK. Designed and built in Sweden, the platform will give UK-based players the chance to become managers of their own virtual fantasy team by selecting real stars from the world’s major cricketing and other sports leagues and tournaments worldwide, while competing with fellow virtual team managers online.

The participants use the athletes’ current performance and analysis via statistical data, to compete against other players in a fantasy sports tournament. Each virtual team owner is awarded points based on the athletes they have selected and the real time performance during live matches. The players with the maximum points will receive cash prizes.

As an inaugural offer, Starpick will be giving out over GBP 1 million.

Complementing the launch, Starpick has entered into a sponsorship deal which will see its brand on the kit of the Gloucestershire County Cricket Club. StarPick branding will also feature prominently at the Brightside Ground in Bristol for Gloucestershire’s home matches throughout the partnership.

Will Brown, Gloucestershire County Cricket Club CEO, said: “The world of fantasy cricket has gone from strength-to-strength recently, and we hope that through our partnership with StarPick we can bring that enjoyment to the UK.”

Rohit Nair, StarPick co-founder, said: “Our fantasy cricket platform has been very well received by cricket fans in India, and we’re confident that we can replicate that success in the in the UK by giving cricket fanatics the chance to build their own fantasy team and engage with like-minded supporters.”

StarPick has also enrolled England international Eoin Morgan, Indian international Dinesh Karthik and Rohit Sharma and former Gloucestershire player and South African international Jonty Rhodes as brand ambassadors.

Musical Chairs For UK Government Gambling Chief

Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport moves on after just 6 months in the job

Matt Hancock, who presided over the forthcoming drastic reductions in FOBT maximum stakes during his tenure, has been moved from his position as Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport in the UK Cabinet after just six months in the post.

Following ministerial turmoil over Brexit and a Cabinet reshuffle by the Conservative government, Hancock is taking over the Health portfolio to replace Jeremy Hunt, who is replacing Boris Johnson as Foreign Secretary.

Hancock’s replacement as the UK politician responsible for gambling is former Attorney General, Jeremy Wright, who is the MP for Kenilworth and Southam. Tracey Crouch remains as Minister for Sport, a post she has held since 2015.

The Remote Gaming Association and the Association of British Bookmakers both congratulated Wright on his appointment and called for industry stability.

The Stars Group Completes Acquisition Of UK Gambling Giant

Sky Betting and Gaming acquisition is a pivotal moment for TSG

The Stars Group Inc. [previously known as Amaya] announced Tuesday that it has completed its previously announced acquisition of Sky Betting & Gaming.

“This acquisition represents a pivotal moment in The Stars Group’s evolution,” said Rafi Ashkenazi, The Stars Group’s CEO.

“SBG’s mobile-focused sportsbook pairs well with our poker offering to create two premier customer acquisition channels. We believe this combination along with our combined online casino offerings positions The Stars Group for continued growth in the evolving online gaming industry.”

The acquisition also provides The Stars Group with multiple expected operational and financial benefits, the statement notes, including:

  • Dramatically improves The Stars Group’s revenue diversity, creating a balanced spread across poker, casino and sportsbook with a broad geographic reach.
  • Increases The Stars Group’s presence in locally regulated or taxed markets to approximately 75% of combined revenues.
  • Develops sports betting as a second customer acquisition channel, complementing The Stars Group’s core offerings and creating an opportunity to cross-sell players across multiple verticals.
  • Enhances The Stars Group’s products and technology through the addition of SBG’s innovative sportsbook and casino offerings and portfolio of popular mobile apps.

“This transaction creates the world’s largest publicly listed online gaming company and unites two iconic brand portfolios with strong technology platforms and teams. This significant scale also positions The Stars Group to both secure and expand upon its global footprint,” concluded Ashkenazi.

Consideration for the purchase of SBG comprised a combination of cash and approximately 37.9 million newly-issued common shares of The Stars Group. The cash consideration of the acquisition was financed through cash on the balance sheet, proceeds from The Stars Group’s recent equity offering and newly issued debt consisting of:

$100 million from its revolving credit facility, which was increased to $700 million, priced at LIBOR plus 3.25 percent and maturing in five years;
$4,567 million equivalent in new first lien term loans, comprising a U.S. dollar denominated tranche of $3,575 million priced at LIBOR plus 3.50 percent and a Euro denominated tranche of Euro 850 million priced at Euribor plus 3.75 percent, and each with a zero percent floor and maturing in seven years; and
$1,000 million in 7.0 percent unsecured senior notes due July 2026.

UK Competitions Authority Investigating The Stars Group Sky Betting & Gaming Acquisition

Companies must remain distinct

The UK Competition Markets Authority (CMA), in a public advisory Wednesday, said it had launched an investigation into the completed acquisition of Sky Betting & Gaming by The Stars Group’s Stars UK subsidiary.

According to the documentation an initial enforcement order was served on July 6, 2018 on the Stars Group Inc. and subsidiary Stars Group Holdings (UK) Limited, in relation to the acquisition by Stars Group Holdings (UK) Limited of Cyan Blue Topco Limited, which controls the Sky Betting & Gaming group.

The initial enforcement order states that Sky Betting & Gaming and The Stars Group, or any of its subsidiaries, must remain distinct including maintaining separate sales and brand identities.

“The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has reasonable grounds for suspecting that it is or may be the case that arrangements are in progress or in contemplation which, if carried into effect, will result in The Stars Group Inc. (Stars) and its subsidiary Stars Group Holdings (UK) Limited (Stars UK) ceasing to be distinct from Cyan Blue Topco Limited (Cyan), which controls the Sky Bet & Gaming group of companies (together, the Sky Betting & Gaming group)”, the order reads.

Betfred Joins Essa

Expands sports betting integrity capability

UK-based gaming operator Betfred has become the latest member of sports betting integrity association, ESSA.

The membership will enable ESSA to increase the scope of its monitoring and alert platform, further strengthening the association’s position as the regulated private sector’s representative body on betting integrity.

Khalid Ali, ESSA Secretary General, said: “ESSA is delighted to welcome Betfred into its ranks. The operator is a household name with around 20% of UK retail betting shops which goes alongside a substantial online sports betting presence in the UK and many wider international markets. There is clear value for all stakeholders focused on protecting integrity in bringing Betfred within our international monitoring platform.”

Craig Reid, Group Trading Director at Betfred, added: “Helping maintain the integrity on sporting events for our customers is a core component of our business model and is recognised through the value we place on upholding a high level of social responsibility.”