UK Gambling Industry in the News — Weekly Round-up for November 09, 2018

New UK Sports Minister Appointed

British Conservative Party politician Mims Davies takes the hot seat

Mims Davies has been appointed Minister for Sport and Civil Society following Tracey Crouch’s resignation last week.

Crouch resigned in protest against the Government’s decision to delay cutting stakes on fixed odds betting machines from GBP 100 to GBP 2 by six months, implying at the time that the Exchequer’s decision had been swayed by the betting and gambling industry.

UK NHS To Set Up Gambling Addiction Clinic In Leeds

Funded by GambleAware Charity

The UK National Health System has announced the foundation of a clinic for gambling addiction in Leeds, an area in the UK where statistics reveal a gambling addiction problem double that of the National average.

The NHS Northern Gambling Clinic will cater to patients with “severe or complex” problem gambling issues who will receive treatment from psychiatrists and clinical psychologists.

Expected to open its doors in April 2019, the clinic will be funded by the GambleAware charity to the tune of GBP 1.2 million per annum.

Matt Gaskell, a consultant psychologist for addiction services at Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, and who will be the clinical lead at the new centre, said: “I have been campaigning for many years to set up an NHS service to help those affected by serious gambling disorder. I’m looking forward to getting this service up and running so we can start turning lives around.”

Smaller satellite units will eventually be rolled out in other areas of the North as part of the project.

Marc Etches, chief executive of GambleAware added:

“Our aim is to stop people getting into problems with their gambling, and to ensure those that do develop problems receive fast and effective treatment and support.

“We look forward to developing the new partnership and are grateful for the enthusiasm within Leeds City Council for helping to make this innovative proposal successful.”

Revolver Gaming Awarded UK Provider Licence

London-based development studio plans to launch three new games before the end of the year

London-based online gambling games developer Revolver Gaming has been awarded a platform licence by the UK Gambling Commission.

The developer has a portfolio of ten slots, and plans to launch three more titles by the end of the year before ramping up its production line in 2019. Each game boasts 3D graphics and animation with compelling game play.

Revolver Gaming develops each of its premium titles in HTML5 to ensure players receive a qualitry experience across all channels and devices. Popular titles include Reign of Gnomes, Parrots of the Caribbean and GoodFishes.

The developer has supplied content to operators in Asia and beyond, and now plans to establish itself as a player in the European online casino sector.

Daniel Lazarus, creative director and co-founder at Revolver Gaming, said: “Being awarded a UK licence is a break-through moment for us, and means we can now offer our games to players in the UK, which is a primary market for us.”

Regulatory Requirements Set To Slow U.K. Online Gambling Growth

New report projects online market revenues in the UK will rise to GBP 6.42 billion by 2020, dropping below historic double digit growth

In a new report titled “UK Online Gambling: Data Forecasting & Market Shares”, UK gambling intelligence and consultant Gambling Compliance predicts that growth in UK online gambling revenue will dip below the traditional double-digit rates historically recorded.

The report predicts that regulatory pressures will slow growth to around 7 percent p.a., with revenues reaching GBP 6.42 billion annually by 2020 from GBP 5.24 billion in 2017. Since 2013, annual growth has been more than double that rate.

The report cites onerous new regulatory requirements, including more rigorous due-diligence checks and affordability tests, as factors weighing on online casino operators in particular, with multimillion pound fines in store for companies found to have deficient player protection standards.

Publication of the report comes on the heels of the latest tax hike for remote gaming companies – from 15 percent to 21 percent – announced in the UK budget last week and effective October 2019.

“Next year’s hike in the rate of remote gaming duty from 15 to 21 percent adds to the mounting regulatory headwinds and enforcement actions which are challenging traditional operating models and the reliance of operators on high-spending VIP customers,” said Daniel Stone, Gambling Compliance’s head of data content and the report’s author.

“We nevertheless expect the decelerating UK market to grow by over GBP 1 billion in absolute terms between 2017 and 2020, cementing its status as the largest regulated online gambling market in the world,” Stone added.

In addition to future market-size projections, the report includes exclusive estimates on the market shares held by operators in the UK’s online betting and gaming sectors.

The report finds that bet365 was the UK’s largest online gambling operator by total revenue in 2017, as the Stoke-based group overtook former market-leader Paddy Power Betfair during the course of the year.

Bet365 also extended its lead as the UK’s largest online sports-betting brand by a clear distance, pulling away from Sky Bet, Betfair and William Hill in a market dominated by seven major brands owned by five different companies.

In the UK’s more fragmented market for online gaming, Ladbrokes Coral took the top slot in 2017, followed by Sky Bet, William Hill and bingo specialist Jackpotjoy.

Advertising Standards Authority Unveils Five-Year Strategy

New approach focuses on making the regulation of online advertisements stricter and using machine learning tools in regulation

In the UK, the advertising watchdog Advertising Standards Authority has published its five-year strategy to better control gambling advertising, noting that it intends to focus on tighter regulation and the use of machine learning tools in regulation.

The Authority notes that there is an increasing move online by businesses and advertising following public trends to the medium.

“Online trends are reflected in the balance of our workload – 88 percent of the 7,099 ads amended or withdrawn in 2017 following our action were online ads, either in whole or in part,” the ASA revealed.

Future strategy includes the prioritisation of the protection of vulnerable people and limiting young people’s exposure to age-restricted ads in the gambling sector, the watchdog said.

“We will listen in new ways, including research, data-driven intelligence gathering and machine learning – our own or that of others – to find out which other advertising-related issues are the most important to tackle. We will develop our thought-leadership in online ad regulation, including on advertising content and targeting issues relating to areas like voice, facial recognition, machine-generated personalised content and biometrics,” chief executive Guy Parker said.

“We’re a much more proactive regulator as a result of the work we’ve done in the last five years. In the next five, we want to have even more impact regulating online advertising. Online is already well over half of our regulation, but we’ve more work to do to take further steps towards our ambition of making every UK ad a responsible ad.”

Sportech Clinch Four UK Ladbrokes/Coral Tracks

Deal announced in June comes to fruition

Sportech Racing and Digital has signed a new contract with four racetracks operated by Ladbrokes/Coral in the UK, marking the completion of a deal first announced back in June (see previous InfoPowa reports).

Under the new contract, Sportech will provide tote betting systems, hosting and operational services to the greyhound racetracks at Monmore, Crayford, Romford, and Brighton from Sportech’s data center in Bristol, UK.

The migration of the on-track systems to the Bristol data center will enable the provision of inter-track wagering services to support common pool pari-mutuel wagering between the tracks and third party operators, a key area of growth for racetracks and pools betting operators.

In addition to the UK data center hosting and operations services, the contract also includes provision for on-track hardware and software maintenance.

Sportech’s Vice President Sales Europe, Bruno Gay:

“We are very pleased to have signed an agreement that will deliver Sportech’s unrivaled package of betting technologies and services and are confident that Ladbrokes/Coral will be very pleased with the quality of the services they receive from the Sportech team.

In related news, Sportech issued a profit warning Wednesday after expected sales contracts failed to materialise.

The company forecasts adjusted full year EBITDA to be between five and ten percent lower than existing market expectations of GBP 8.5 million which still represents 14 to 20 percent growth over the past year.

‘Whilst we are disappointed not to have secured some international sales contracts by the year end, we continue to focus on signing these contracts,’ chief executive Andrew Gaughan said.

‘We are working proactively with Connecticut and other states in the US to secure the rights to conduct sports betting as a licensed operator and we expect that sports betting revenues will commence in the second half of 2019.’

Gamstop Registrations Reach 38,000

In just six months

GamStop, the yet-to-be officially launched UK-wide gambling self-exclusion scheme has received 38,000 registrations in the past six months.

GamStop is free of charge to the public and enables self-exclusion from all online gambling websites with a single registration for periods beginning at six months and extending to five years. In addition the site links to GamCare and the National Debtline.

“We are very pleased with the response to GamStop so far as the initial uptake proves there is clearly a need for this scheme,” GamStop chief executive Fiona Palmer said.

“We will shortly be embarking on our first phase of evaluation which will help shape future improvements and enhancements to the service going forward.”

UKGC Amendments In Force (Update)

To licence conditions and codes of practice (LCCP) and new standards for complaints process

The UK Gambling Commission has reminded new Licence conditions and codes of practice (LCCP) along with new standards for the complaints process (ADR) are now in force as of October 31, 2018.

The new LCCP can be accessed here and the alternative disputes resolution (ADR) here.

In addition, the UKGC is inviting comment from consumers, gambling operators and members of the public on proposals to strengthen age and identity verification for online gambling. The proposal aims to further protect children and ensure fairness and safety when gambling.