Karolina Pelc: Taking on live casino

first_img Subscribe to the iGaming newsletter 10th May 2018 | By Hannah Gannage-Stewart Casino & games Topics: Casino & games AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to FacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitter Karolina Pelc: Taking on live casinocenter_img Email Address Karolina Pelc tells Hannah Gannagé-Stewart how she plans to take live casino to the mobile masses, and has now fixed her sights on what needs to be done to attract more women into the industry Tags: Online Gambling Since joining LeoVegas three years ago, casino director Karolina Pelc has made it her mission to take live casino to the mobile masses, and has now fixed her sights on what needs to be done to attract more women into the industry and grow them into leaders. She spoke to Hannah Gannagé-StewartAt 34 years old, LeoVegas casino director Karolina Pelc has built up an enviable CV. Not only has her 15 years in gaming spanned senior roles at Bodog, Betsson Group and latterly LeoVegas, she started by earning her stripes in the land-based casino world.Pelc has been heading up LeoVegas’ casino product and operations department for more than three years, having joined from the head of casino role at Betsson owned Betsafe in 2015.In that time she has built the team from scratch and was responsible for the launch and continuous growth of the operator’s successful live casino product vertical. Although she says she never intended to end up in igaming, her path into the industry saw just one brief deviation away from gambling.Starting with a job as a dealer in a casino while she was studying in Poland, the 18-year-old Pelc enjoyed the buzz of the casino floor, getting to know the habits of high rollers and getting to grips with how the business worked.When Poland joined the European Union in 2004 she came to London and worked in Mayfair members club Fifty, where she honed her understanding of the needs of VIPs and celebrities. “It was actually very eye opening, and something I found very useful in my future career in online gaming”.Little did she know back then that over a decade later she would be leading the 13-strong casino team at LeoVegas, which under her leadership is laser focused on bringing players the ultimate gaming experience.Having launched a real time data-fuelled live casino lobby last year, and a feature that enables players to deposit money without leaving the game on mobile, Pelc has more innovation in store in the next few months.“We’re going to use a lot more data from our APIs, because we want to personalise the experience even more for players, make it even faster and truly tailor it to their preferences,” she says. “There is a lot of talk in the industry about artificial intelligence or machine learning so we also want to learn from the buzz around that and try to experiment with some recommended engines”.As far as Pelc is concerned, despite her platform’s early success, live casino is barely out of the starting blocks in the context of the market as a whole.“Live casino product growth is only just starting, it doesn’t really have a mass appeal yet. It’s still considered by players to be complicated and expensive, so there’s still a lot to do to challenge that perception and educate them on how easy and fun it is to play.”External perceptions Pelc takes a forensic approach to marketing. Her one side step away from gambling was a nine-month break between working in land-based casinos and getting into the online market.A three-year-long stint as a dealer in casinos on cruise ships cemented her career path and clearly appealed to her sense of adventure. “I had a lot of fun travelling and seeing the world,” she recalls.As soon as she returned to dry land she fired off CVs to London’s recruiters asking for roles in igaming. They were all rejected due to a lack of marketing experience.Undeterred Pelc found an entry-level marketing job, got several months’ experience under her belt and fired out another batch of speculative applications before landing her first role at InterCasino. Her boss at the time was Betsson’s group operations CEO Jesper Svensson, who she says remains a close friend and a mentor.Reflecting on the operator’s recent brush with the Gambling Commission in the UK, Pelc acknowledged that LeoVegas seemed to have fallen short. “We seem to have had inadequate measures in place in the past and the focus on strengthening our compliance processes is super sharp now,” she said.Although the £600,000 penalty incurred by LeoVegas was only made public in early May, the operator appears to have been taking action since the GC’s investigation. Last December, it cut back on the number of affiliates it works with due to breaches of the marketing rules.Separately, a recent iGaming Tracker analysis revealed that LeoVegas excluded more games than any other operator from its homepages after the GC tightened its stance on marketing that could appeal to children last year. Despite the recent revelations, Pelc insists compliance is critical to her team. “It’s very important to us and we don’t want to cause anything that would make the gambling commission lose trust in our brand.Sometimes it’s tricky to understand the requirement but I think at the moment there is much more being done by the regulator to explain the requirements fully to operators”. Pelc’s passion for igaming is evident in almost every talking point about her work. She has an innate understanding of her players; what they want in the games, how they use the devices they play on, and why they head to one brand over another.She says working at LeoVegas, with its focus on mobile, has highlighted trends in player behaviour she hadn’t seen in previous roles. “At companies with more desktop-based traffic, you would see peaks at lunchtime, after work, or at weekends, but we don’t necessarily see the same thing. People are playing on their way somewhere, when they are waiting in a queue, in a shop, or on holiday,” she explains.In particular, she has noted that July and August are the busiest months for Swedish traffic at LeoVegas because people take their phones on holiday. Historically, they would have been the weakest because no one has their desktop with them while they’re away.On top of that she says the whole way you design a game for mobile is intensely different. In her team, prior to launching a new game, every aspect is tested to make sure mobile players have the same experience they would on a desktop.“The amount of little nitty gritty things you have to look at when you test a game on mobile is huge, she explains. “The way the game behaves changes with the level of connectivity, it has landscape or portrait mode, it varies on different devices and operating systems and then there’s the player experience itself – how many things can you reach with your thumb?”To ensure the LeoVegas game portfolio stands out, Pelc seeks close and exclusive working relationships with all her suppliers – albeit she says some are better at collaboration than others. She finds that smaller, more agile companies that have time for a proper dialogue lead to more interesting collaborations.Pointing to LeoVegas’ partnership with Evolution, she credits much of the success of the live casino products to a strong account management relationship.“The account manager has been crucial, and it is often his work on analysing and crunching data that finds out whether we need further expansion because the table occupancy isn’t optimal, or whether we should consider localising tables for certain languages because we see in the data where it shows increased traffic in that market,” she explains.Commenting on LeoVegas’ recently acquired Italian brand Winga, she says: “Italy is a relatively unpenetrated market when it comes to mobile products, I think it’s going to give us a very strong position,” she says.“Live casino is very big in Italy so I’m very excited about going in there with an extension of our live casino strategy with some exciting ideas we have for the market, with Evolution as one of our partners and the multi-supplier strategy we have in other markets.”Influencing change Pelc’s relentless enthusiasm for live casino and the growth potential for the LeoVegas brand makes it hard to believe she’s actually been on maternity leave for the past year. Returning to work next month, she will work from home to begin with before transitioning back to office life.She makes no bones about the importance of allowing woman both to have a family life and succeed at work. She says LeoVegas has wholly accommodated the birth of her first child but she is aware that the industry in general is not always as supportive.“It is possible to balance a successful career and have a very fulfilled family life, that’s where I see opportunity rather than challenges, just offer more family-oriented benefits and spread the awareness of the opportunities in the industry for them,” she says.Pelc says igaming offers a range of opportunities for women but there is a lack of understanding from outside of the industry, which calls for more to be done to promote the ample roles in sectors such as marketing and tech.“The industry is perceived as very male dominated and some examples of sexism do exist but that is diminishing these days. I think we should fight this external perception and try to showcase our new refreshed images; the tech environment, an exciting marketing industry with lots of room for growth.”Meanwhile, a problem she says is not limited just to igaming is the deficit of management roles and mentorship for women. “It’s one thing to attract women in and another thing to keep them for years to come and grow them into future leaders and I think more could be done on that aspect,” she adds.To help attract more women into the industry she patently has boundless enthusiasm for, Pelc is working closely with industry-led project, All-In Diversity.She and co-founder Kelly Kehn are former colleagues and share a long-held belief that women are underserved and underrepresented, and that more should be done to attract them in. She says she gets messages on a daily basis from women in land-based casinos who want to move into the online sphere but are struggling to get a foot in the door.“I’m planning to do a bit more in that area to try to bridge the gap between offline and online and try to show women, such as myself, how you can get into online gaming and the sorts of jobs that you could be doing,” she pledges.Pelc practices what she reaches when it comes to managing work and family life, her nine-month-old son Henry Rufus accompanying her to all industry events. She has one ear on the door throughout this interview, awaiting his return from a walk with his dad.Her passions outside of work have the ring of a one-time traveller and adventurer. Time spent in Asia sparked an interest in yoga and holistic medicine, while the self-proclaimed clean eating enthusiast also enjoys cooking and food styling.Pelc’s ethos to the barriers presented during the course of work, and life, can perhaps be summarised by her attitude to some of the more arduous regulatory requirements levelled at the industry.“It’s tricky for us,” she says of the GC’s ratcheting-up of advertising controls, “but compliance always trumps everything else, so we just have to do it”. She’s matter of fact. Just do it.Related article: Q&A: Karolina Pelc, LeoVegaslast_img read more

Delaware to take first sports bets

first_img Tags: Online Gambling Delaware to take first sports bets 5th June 2018 | By contenteditor AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to FacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitter Regions: US Delaware Three casinos to offer bets from 13:30 EDT in first state to legalise and launch single-game sports wagering since lifting of federal ban Topics: Sports betting Tech & innovation Sports betting Email Address Subscribe to the iGaming newsletter Delaware’s three casinos, Delaware Park, Dover Downs Hotel & Casino and Harrington Raceway & Casino, are poised to accept the state’s first full sports wagers at 13:30 EDT today.GVC Holdings-owned Stadium Technology Group’s proprietary sports betting platform willl power the sportsbooks at the three facilities.Last week, Delaware became the first US state to legalise sports betting since the Supreme Court voted to overturn the federal 1992 Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA).Delaware was among four states grandfathered under PASPA due to having enabling legislation on the books for the lottery to offer parlay cards on NFL games at the time of passage in 1992. This followed a failed experiment with the format in 1976.Today’s expansion will allow single-game wagering on professional baseball, football, hockey, basketball and other sports. Until today, this has only been legal in Nevada.Stadium, acquired by Ladbrokes in 2012 before its merger with Coral and subsequent acquistion by GVC, already provides this software in 16 of the 20 licensed sportsbooks in the state of Nevada. GVC said today that Stadium had capacity to extend this to more than 100 other licensed locations. Adam Greenblatt, director of development and corporate strategy at GVC, said: “We are delighted to be up-and-running as the first – and currently only – provider with a market ready solution for our partners in the new regulatory environment. “As legislation evolves in the post-PASPA world, having the capability and flexibility to be able to get to market fast, with proven and compliant technology, is a key advantage for us. “This small but important step on the pathway of regulatory reform in the US sports betting and igaming market, shows the preparedness of GVC to take an active part in the development of the sector. “We believe the group’s proprietary, omni-channel technology coupled with our extensive US and international operating experience and trading expertise, positions us for long-term success.”Delware was among the first three US states to fully legalise and regulate igaming back in 2012. The programme is run by the state lottery and powered by a vendor collaboration between 888 and Scientific Games/WMS.The state’s 888-powered poker sites, including WSOP, began pooling liquidity with Nevada’s in March 2015. This was extended last month to include New Jersey, following October 2017’s Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement (MSIGA).Related article: Delaware legalises sports bettinglast_img read more

Boom time: part two

first_imgCasino & games AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to FacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitter Boom time: part two Email Address In the second part of his feature on how affiliates can best tap into the exploding esports market, Nick Pateman looks at market developments, generating value from engagements, data, content, hiiring and where to start Market developments Something unique to esports is the market’s rate of change. Whether it’s the replacement of a team’s entire roster, a dramatic change to a game’s mechanics or the launch of a new title, it’s hard to keep pace with all that’s going on. But keeping up with market trends and changes can prove useful for driving engagement. For example, spotting a potential new esports title early can give a brand time to position themselves for its impending launch. Valve’s announcement of its new card trading game Artifact back in 2017 led a few affiliates to speculate on the game’s potential as a new esport. A year later Valve announced the launch of a $1m tournament to take place at the start of 2019, dramatically increasing the likelihood that this title will make its way to the bookies. Generating value from esports engagement Too many affiliates spend too little time focused on offering real value and instead opt for quicker wins that typically do not correlate with long-term organic growth. Any brand looking to generate meaningful revenues from organic channels must think carefully about how they plan to engage their esports traffic, ultimately with a goal of generating links and brand citations. Esports data The esports market is awash with data and, unlike in the traditional sports market, much of it is open to the public for free. For that reason, any content strategy in this space should seriously consider how data can be used to enrich new or existing ideas, whether it’s for a one-off marketing campaign or as the fundamental framework for a website’s content plan. In the case of SickOdds, our focus has always been in the use of match-odds data to enhance the user experience and ultimately drive more traffic and more conversions. But odds data not only allows us to draw up comparisons, it enriches our match previews, betting tips, news articles and social posts. Data can also be used to establish trust among visitors: being able to provide Fnatic’s win rate on Dust2 vs NiP, for example, would be a hugely valuable insight to any prospective bettor and adds a vast amount of credibility to the brand. The sports affiliate market is awash with competitors and in the years to come the esports space will be no different. The use of well-executed data is one of the most cost-effective ways to elevate your brand above the noise and to establish a level of trust that will be a boon to SEO, social and commercial endeavours over the long term. Building content In order to scale up the quantity and quality of content on a website, the brand needs to have a team of writers who know their topic inside out. Creating an engaging brand that appeals to the swathe of young and passionate esports writers in the industry is essential for the hiring process. Esports writers will typically be players themselves and they’ll want to work with brands who share the same level of passion. At SickOdds, we have built a team of writers who believe in our mission and share the same love for competitive gaming.Hiring in esports The enthusiasm shown by young esports fans is unlike any other market. Writers and amateur journalists are available by the hundreds and are capable of writing on a wide range of topics, from match previews to technical game mechanics, with a deep level of understanding. Those looking to break into this type of freelance work aren’t heading to the traditional job outlets but instead to esports-focused job listing sites such as Hitmarker and Rekt Jobs. From our experience, these writers have a deeper knowledge about esports and the competitive scene than writers from more traditional platforms. As an esports brand, whether you’re looking for social media content, landing pages, match tips or previews, these writers can deliver. Hiring freelancers across a range of esports titles can have all bases covered in no time.Where to start in esports If you don’t already have a natural passion for competitive gaming then the first step would be to try and find one. Esports have pulled in hundreds of millions of players, many of whom were not necessarily gamers before, and if you’ve read this far then you may well have an affinity to the sector that you didn’t know you had. On the other hand, if esports still isn’t your thing, then it is essential that whoever leads your project is neck-deep in the scene and is hiring like-minded team members. Then, with a team in place ready to make waves in the world of esports, consider what opportunities there are to enrich your content strategy through esports data – and scout out partnerships that could prove useful in engaging this exciting new fanbase.Nick Pateman co-founded an SEO consultancy in 2010, leaving six years later to build an affiliate network that now generates over half a million unique users each month through content marketing and SEO. Nick also has a keen interest in emerging markets and successfully developed one of the most popular web apps for the cryptocurrency Ethereum in 2016. He co-founded esports betting platform SickOdds.com in the same year. Subscribe to the iGaming newslettercenter_img Tags: Online Gambling Video Gaming In the second part of his feature on how affiliates can best tap into the exploding esports market, Nick Pateman looks at market developments, generating value from engagements, data, content, hiiring and where to start Topics: Casino & games Esports Video gaming 22nd February 2019 | By Stephen Carterlast_img read more

New slots on the block: The newcomers, part 2

first_img In the second part of iGB’s roundtable with slot studios in the early stage of their fight for market share, we discuss M&A, innovation and content aggregation. Read part one here.Do you feel there is still scope for suppliers to be acquired by larger peers, or would you say the larger studios and service providers are less keen on consolidation today? Alexander Levchenko, CEO, Evoplay Entertainment (AL): M&A is an organic byproduct of industry growth, so it’s only natural that companies get acquired.Larger companies have years of experience, established processes, market coverage, licences and proven ‘go to market’ strategies – which their smaller peers lack. Thus, it’s a win-win consolidation to combine the two: larger suppliers are able to diversify their offering and smaller ones save time on grinding their way through the industry.The film industry is a good example of the future of our industry many years down the line. Currently there are about six big studios that acquired the smaller players. The same will be true for our industry as we’re at the beginning of that same cycle, with a decreasing number of game suppliers as they unite or eliminate in the years to come.Piotr Szpoton, CEO, BF Games (PS): I think consolidation will occur more on the operator side than with game developers. There is currently a huge number of suppliers and games are released on a monthly basis, making the lifetime of a single game very short. There are only a couple of titles we could name that perform well for longer periods. One of the most vital things that each game studio should have are existing integrations with casinos and a good relationship with their team. However, in a huge number of cases, studios rely heavily on aggregation platforms.Steve Cutler, CEO, Kalamba Games (SC): There is always a market for quality and delivering results. The relative keenness of acquisition I couldn’t say, but the enthusiasm is certainly there as much as ever if we gauge by calls received.Of your products, which has proved most successful to date and why do you feel it has performed so well? SC: In general terms we are observing increasing success with every release. Developing Kalamba Games has been and continues to be an iterative process and we continually strive to raise the bar. Building great titles that players love to play is at our core but all aspects of the organisation must be aligned to deliver increasing success.PS: We have a top 10 of best performing games and the reason why these games are successful is knowing the specifics of a chosen market. Years ago, when we started creating games, we chose to make them for the markets that we knew very well, such as Germany and Poland.Knowing your future customer is part of the market research that is an essential part of creating a successful product. Last year, we redesigned 10 of our games to suit the Belgian market, a very specific market, and gladly our games are performing very well there.How important are content aggregation platforms to smaller games developers? Have these helped you gain access to larger operators? PS: To put it simply, collaborating with aggregators is similar to placing your product in the supermarket. The product is seen by more potential clients that can choose from a variety of products from each aisle, but you have to pay extra commission along the way to have your product placed there.The reality is that there are clients who prefer to shop only from supermarkets and some who prefer the local small stores with fewer, but still good, products. It is a battle between keeping the initial standard rates and having less volume of games from a small shop or lowering the rates while hoping for higher volumes from a supermarket.AL: It’s an important type of partnership for small developers and even for larger companies. Aggregators have expansive networks and market exposure and sell much faster than the direct in-house sales of a game studio.SC: Yes, it comes at a cost but content aggregation platforms provide a valuable service for both operators and suppliers: breadth of distribution via a single integration for suppliers; and reduced points of contact for operators when sourcing content. This also means we can focus our energies on what we do best and build great games that players love to play.Would you say you’re limited in how you can innovate with your products? AL: We don’t limit ourselves when it comes to innovation. We focus a large proportion of our resources on creating titles that offer industry firsts (3D, VR and the like) – and yes, it comes with no forecast or guarantees where these innovations will lead us. But we do know that if we do not innovate today, we will certainly fall flat tomorrow.PS: The current market situation involves taking a lot of risk with new titles. Otherwise it is absolutely impossible to stand out in the crowd. It is very challenging to concentrate only on such titles though as it takes a lot of time to educate the players. This industry requires more evolution rather than revolution. However, being innovative helps a lot when trying to grab the attention of operators. Therefore, you need both traditional titles and very risky but creative ones.
SC: Bringing innovative ideas to market is core to our philosophy and is supported by strong financial backing from our investors. Everything is calculated risk when it comes to innovation and fortunately we can draw on a great deal of industry and startup experience from within our organisation, which we will continue to leverage as we push the envelope. Players can try plenty of new features in our upcoming releases.Read parts one and two of the first installment in the ‘New slots on the block’ series, and come back tomorrow for second of the newcomers roundtable. Subscribe to the iGaming newsletter New slots on the block: The newcomers, part 2 AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to FacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitter In the second part of iGB’s roundtable with slot studios in the early stage of their fight for market share, we discuss M&A, innovation and content aggregation Email Addresscenter_img Casino & games Topics: Casino & games Tech & innovation Slots 14th May 2019 | By contenteditor Tags: Mobile Online Gambling Slot Machineslast_img read more

ESSA is no more, long live the IBIA

first_img Topics: Sports betting AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to FacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitter Subscribe to the iGaming newsletter ESSA is no more, long live the IBIA The body formerly known as the European Sports Security Association has rebranded in order to reflect its increasingly international focus. Secretary General Khalid Ali talks to iGaming Business about the evolving battle against sports-related corruption 4th June 2019 | By Stephen Cartercenter_img Sports betting Tags: Online Gambling The body formerly known as the European Sports Security Association has rebranded in order to reflect its increasingly international focus. Secretary General Khalid Ali talks to iGaming Business about the evolving battle against sports-related corruptionSince it was established in 2005, the European Sports Security Association has evolved as the gambling industry has grown from a European to an international business. The only thing that didn’t change was its name.First it was rebranded as ESSA (Sports Betting Integrity), in 2013, a step towards shifting away from its Euro-centric origins. At this time, it was decided that the issue of the name would be revisited in 2018.“When 2018 came, a number of things happened, most significantly the US opening up, but also movement in South America, Brazil, Argentina, and talks in India,” secretary general Khalid Ali explains.He says that in hindsight, even the association’s original name failed to reflect what it was and did – something hammered home by a stakeholder consultation.“The feedback we got was all very positive but there was an issue with the name; people just didn’t feel it was fit for purpose anymore,” he says.“We came up with a few alternative ideas, presented it to our board, at our AGM in London, where they all agreed that we change our name to the International Betting Integrity Association.”Ali notes that since 2016, the association has reported more than 700 alerts to operators, sports governing bodies and regulators. In 2018, 42% of alerts were generated on activity outside Europe. This is not only down to the industry, and the body’s membership, becoming more international, but also as a result of members expanding into new territories.Integrity focus Furthermore, Ali says, the need for integrity monitoring services has become increasingly pressing. This is more to do with awareness than it is with a growing problem of sports-related corruption.“Six, seven years ago, people talked about betting integrity as an issue, but it wasn’t something regulators looked at,” he explains. “That’s changed. Now it’s one of the top three topics the regulators want to know about.“It has become a key focus for them, in terms of how they open up their markets.”However this does not mean that regulators necessarily choose the correct approach, he notes, especially those that restrict the events on which licensees can offer bets. This has frustrated many of the International Betting Integrity Association’s members.“It doesn’t make sense – punters simply bet outside of the [legal] market.”Ali points out that the most open markets are the most successful in channelling players towards legal offerings. Denmark’s liberal model has been far more successful in this respect than the heavily restricted French regulatory framework, he notes.“For us this is a key part of protecting the integrity of sports and betting,” he says. “You need to have a full catalogue to ensure everything can be monitored and reported.”The Macolin question He argues that over-zealous regulation only serves to hurt efforts to develop effective legal safeguards to combat sporting corruption.This is especially apparent when looking at the Council of Europe’s (CoE) Convention on the Manipulation of Sports Competitions, or the Macolin Convention. The convention was first opened up for Council of Europe states to sign in 2014, and only in 2019 has a fifth member ratified it, allowing it to fully come into force.This is largely down to its definition of illegal sports betting, which it defines as “any sports betting activity whose type or operator is not allowed under the applicable law of the jurisdiction where the consumer is located”.The definition has been disputed by Malta, which argues that the definition would mark a significant number of its licensees as illegal gambling operators. Malta’s opposition to the convention as a result of this definition is preventing it from being implemented across the European Union.“When it comes to conventions from the Council of Europe, the issue has always been that the EU has to negotiate as a bloc, and when one member state has a problem that holds [things up],” Ali says.“We’ve always supported the Maltese position, as fundamentally how illegal betting has been defined means many of our operators would be classed as illegal,” he explains. “There’s a distinction between illegal and unregulated; something ‘illegal’ is prohibited and unlawful, and for our members, who are often listed businesses, that definition for them is unacceptable.”He points out that a major investigation into match-fixing in tennis saw 19 arrested in Belgium in 2018. Some of the information that helped identify wrongdoing came from one of the association’s members.If their site was accessed by players a few miles up the road from their Belgian offices, in the Netherlands, they would, by Macolin’s definition, be an illegal operator.“The definition doesn’t help achieve the treaty’s goal, in fact it hinders it,” Ali says.He points out that the key operational elements of the convention, such as states establishing national platforms to fight sports-related corruption, is already happening without any legal requirement.At the time of writing, 37 countries had agreed to implement Macolin and adhere to its terms – without making a legally binding commitment to doing so. There is clearly an appetite to step up the fight against match-fixing even if Macolin’s definition of illegal betting remains unpalatable.Where Ali does see a need for more regulatory intervention is in making operators’ membership of an integrity monitoring service mandatory. New Jersey requires sports betting licence applicants to have partnered an integrity service provider before they are eligible.“This is something we advocate – it’s becoming increasingly important for operators to be part of an integrity network, because it’s only through sharing information that you can build a complete picture of suspicious activity,” Ali says.“One of the great things we’ve built is the cooperation between the various sports, regulators and operators, and we would call on operators and regulators to make it a requirement that people who are licensed be part of a monitoring system.”This isn’t a commercial pitch. The International Betting Integrity Association has, and always will be, a not-for-profit enterprise, created by sports betting operators fundamentally to ensure they are not defrauded.“We’ve always said we won’t commercialise integrity,” Ali says. “We’re in a privileged position where we can talk freely about certain things. There are still operators that are sitting outside of the monitoring frameworks and they need to get involved.”Select club Following the rebrand, the IBIA aims to step up efforts to expand its international membership. However, all prospective members will be required to adhere to its code of conduct, and undergo due diligence before they will be admitted.Yet with so many different markets opening up, and so many different regulatory frameworks, there are differing definitions of what is acceptable for an operator.Ali admits that the association has found itself in situations where it has had to conduct enhanced due diligence on a potential member, and ultimately rejected its application. This, he says, is because the IBIA takes its duty to uphold high standards seriously.“Our members see membership as a gold standard in some ways, for the reputational boost that they get,” he says. That reputational boost will only be there if these standards are upheld.And while because the IBIA is becoming more international, Ali says, there are limits to what it can do. For example, it helped establish a dedicated US integrity monitoring body, the Sports Wagering Integrity Association (SWIMA), rather than making the US a major focus – something that its members had initially hoped it would do.“We’re a not-for-profit organisation, and because of that we have limited resources, so we felt it would be better if there was an American equivalent, set up by the Americans and run by the Americans,” Ali says.“They would have the contacts there, know the right people, and it would just be more efficient,” he explains. “That’s why we worked with the American Gaming Association to help create it, and when it had the arms and legs in place, we started working with [SWIMA chief integrity officer] George Rover, and provided the platform they’re using.”This is a version of the IBIA’s proprietary platform, meaning members are already familiar with the system.Despite its limited resources stopping it from taking on a leading role in the emerging US market, Ali denies that the IBIA is limited what it can do. It is involved in five projects, at an EU level, to tackle match-fixing, and has a range of others in the pipeline going into 2020 and beyond.This, Ali says, will keep him busy going forward. Despite serving as secretary general since 2008, during which time its membership has grown to more than 50 betting brands, he says there is too much going on for him to even consider moving on.“When I joined there were only five or six members, it was very much an ad hoc association,” Ali says. “The job is very challenging. It’s not like you’re doing the same thing every single day. I’m running the association, working with our members, and helping with various initiatives.“The job just keeps throwing up new things, and now I have the challenge of making people understand who we are and what we do.”He’s going nowhere. And with a renewed purpose and international outlook, there is still a huge amount to be done. Email Addresslast_img read more

Sportech appoints Richard McGuire as chief executive

first_imgAddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to FacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitter Regions: US Connecticut Tags: Mobile Online Gambling OTB and Betting Shops Race Track and Racino Horse racing Betting technology provider Sportech has named its interim executive chairman Richard McGuire as its new chief executive officer. Topics: Lottery People Sports betting Strategy Horse racing Email Address 2nd July 2019 | By contenteditor Subscribe to the iGaming newsletter Betting technology provider Sportech has named its interim executive chairman Richard McGuire as its new chief executive officer.McGuire has served on the Sportech board since 2016, first joining as a non-executive director, before becoming chair in 2017, following Roger Withers’ retirement. He then took on the role of interim executive chairman in November last year after chief executive Andrew Gaughan resigned.As a result of taking on the executive chairman role, he relocated to Sportech’s US headquarters in Connecticut. He has more than 30 years’ experience across the gaming, technology and horse racing sectors. McGuire has worked for major investment banks including Citigroup and Salomon Brothers, as well as serving as director for companies including pub operator Mitchell & Butlers and payment solutions provider Alphameric.As a result of McGuire becoming CEO of the business, Giles Vardey, who joined as a non-executive director in November 2017, has taken over as chairman, with immediate effect. Read the full story on iGB North America. Sportech appoints Richard McGuire as chief executivelast_img read more

Beyond fines: the case for compensation

first_imgAddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to FacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitter Legal & compliance Subscribe to the iGaming newsletter Henrietta Dunkley, a solicitor at Ellis Jones, made headlines last year when she successfully negotiated a settlement worth £120,000 for a gambler from a high street bookmaker for failing to adhere to the Gambling Commission’s Social Responsibility Code. Here she explains the implications for the wider industry.In recent months, we achieved an outstanding result for a vulnerable gambling customer with a high value dispute against a major betting operator, which failed to protect its customer from harm and therefore breached a number of obligations set out within its licensing conditions.Readers of this article will be familiar with the Gambling Commission’s Licence Conditions and Codes of Practice (LCCP), which operators must adhere to as a condition of being granted a licence.Contained in the LCCP is the Social Responsibility Code, which attempts to regulate the conduct of betting operators in respect of the protection of vulnerable consumers, as well as anti-money laundering.The circumstances of the case Our client, a man in his early 30s, had shown very obvious signs of problem gambling for a considerable period of time and was spending far beyond his means. He lost well in excess of £100,000 with a major betting operator and sought to recover as much of his net losses as possible.The customer had a clear addiction to gambling, which led him to gamble significant sums regularly throughout the night.The customer expressly stated to the operator’s chat agents that he “needed” bonuses and cashback because he did not have sufficient funds to gamble, admitted to playing out of boredom and told the agents while he was gambling this his mood was very low.Despite this, the operator failed to intervene with the customer to check that he was comfortable with his spending and/or speak with him about the responsible gambling tools available.In addition, the operator had inadequate monitoring systems and processes to identify the customer as a problem gambler in the first place, and had failed to check the customer’s source of funds on a sufficiently regular basis.Instead, the customer was offered large bonuses and treated as a VIP, so as to encourage further spending rather than prevent further harm.As a result, the customer was able to continue borrowing large sums of money at high interest rates to fund his gambling addiction without any checks as to his source of funds. At one point he gambled with money that had become available as a result of equity release on a relative’s home.The outcome We were able to persuasively argue that there had been clear failings by the betting operator, which ultimately enabled us to negotiate and recover 89% of the client’s net losses without having to pursue any court proceedings.This result is reflective of a much wider recognition by the Gambling Commission and other organisations that more protection is needed for gambling customers, particularly those who display obvious signs of problem gambling.Social responsibility is a key area of concern for the Gambling Commission, which is now taking a much firmer approach against operators that fail to meet the duties set out in the Social Responsibility Code. For example, Betway, Paddy Power, 32Red, William Hill and LeoVegas have all received significant fines for breaches of social responsibility obligations.In this particular case, the team was able to draw on the recent fines for failing to protect vulnerable customers as leverage for negotiating a fruitful settlement.Recent updates to the LCCP reflect the Gambling Commission’s drive to provide better protection for consumers and make sure that the licensing framework in this area is compliant with UK advertising codes, marketing requirements and consumer rights law.Among other things, some of the key changes to the LCCP were aimed at raising standards for alternative dispute resolution, strengthening requirements on how licensees identify and interact with customers who may be at risk of or experiencing gambling harms, and improving the transparency of funding for research, prevention and treatment.The purpose of these changes was to help make gambling fairer and safer for consumers and will give the Gambling Commission more power to take enforcement action if gambling firms fail to meet their responsibilities.Shortcomings of the current system However, despite the intentions of the current LCCP and the Social Responsibility Code, the provisions are somewhat vague, and most of the detail in respect of how operators interact with and protect their customers is left to the operator’s own internal policies.Furthermore, despite the regulator being capable of making decisions in respect of complaints raised by individual consumers and making financial awards by way of regulatory settlements, the Gambling Commission seems to be reluctant to become involved with awards of compensation.Instead, it prefers to impose penalties whereby operators are required to pay out to independent gambling charities, rather than compensating the victims of an operator’s failings directly.There is therefore still a long way to go and it is hoped that more urgent action will be triggered, not only by the Gambling Commission and gambling operators, but also the NHS and the UK Government.At the moment, the Gambling Commission’s powers, and its remit, are not fit for purpose in terms of protecting consumers from the failings of gambling operators.In a speech given in June last year, former deputy leader of the Labour Party Tom Watson outlined Labour’s plans for a new Gambling Act and a tripartite approach to dealing with what he described as a public health crisis.This approach would require the involvement of three separate entities: the regulator (the Gambling Commission), an ombudsman and a specialist health body.Redress required In terms of compensating customers who have been treated unfairly, the proposed ombudsman would be the most important part of this approach.Its purpose would be to investigate complaints made by consumers against the conduct of betting operators, and to provide a straightforward, unambiguous and transparent method for providing compensation to customers who have been treated badly.In addition, there are discussions about imposing a legal duty of care upon gambling operators, to ensure that customers are protected from unnecessary harm caused by gambling, which would make it far easier for customers to successfully pursue their cases in court.One key point here is that gambling operators should also be focusing on the mental health of their customers; the issues are not purely financial.We are seeing an ever-increasing number of people seeking legal advice following very distressing experiences with gambling, which have had significant detrimental effects on their mental health.Had operators genuinely engaged and/or intervened with those customers via human contact, as opposed to relying on automated emails and messages, they may well have been able to prevent serious mental health issues such as stress-related disorders, anxiety, depression, substance misuse and suicidal thoughts or feelings.We regularly act for customers who have had concerning experiences with gambling and whose lives have been turned upside down as a result. While we do often achieve successful outcomes against various gambling operators, much more needs to be done to adequately protect vulnerable customers from the failings of gambling operators.However, given the discussions currently taking place on these issues, it is hoped that we are not too far away from the imposition of a legal duty of care and a gambling ombudsman that can regularly provide compensation to customers who have been treated badly.Henrietta Dunkley is an associate solicitor at Ellis Jones Solicitors.  Beyond fines: the case for compensation Last year solicitor Henrietta Dunkley negotiated a settlement worth £120,000 for a gambler from a bookmaker for failing to adhere to the Social Responsibility Code. She explains the implications for the wider industry. Tags: Online Gambling Regions: UK & Ireland 31st March 2020 | By Joanne Christie Email Address Topics: Legal & compliancelast_img read more

Stars Group shareholders approve Flutter merger

first_img Topics: Strategy Email Address 27th April 2020 | By contenteditor Shareholders in The Stars Group (TSG) have overwhelmingly voted in favour of the operator’s proposed acquisition by Flutter Entertainment. Approximately 99.99% of votes cast at a meeting last week were in support of the mega-merger agreement, through which Flutter will acquire all of the issued and outstanding common shares of TSG.The approval comes after shareholders in Flutter, operator of the Paddy Power Betfair business, last week also backed the deal. Shareholders holding 99.2% of its share capital voted in favour of the merger, with only 0.81% voting against.As a result of the latest shareholder approval, Flutter and TSG said they expect the acquisition deal to close in May.First announced in October 2019, the deal would see Flutter exchange 0.2253 new shares in exchange for each TSG share, with Flutter stockholders owning around 54.64% of shares in the combined business and TSG investors the remaining 45.36%.In March, UK’s Competition and Markets Authority gave its approval to the merger, having launched an investigation into the proposed combination in February. Subscribe to the iGaming newsletter Shareholders in The Stars Group (TSG) have overwhelmingly voted in favour of the operator’s proposed acquisition by Flutter Entertainment.center_img Strategy AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to FacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitter Stars Group shareholders approve Flutter merger Tags: Online Gamblinglast_img read more

Lazio signs up Chinese betting partner

first_img Serie A football club SS Lazio has signed a partnership with HQ Bet as part of a broader expansion plan in the Asian market.While it is unable to sign domestic gambling partners in Italy due to laws introduced last year, the Rome-based club – currently lying second in the Serie A table – has named the operator as its Chinese regional betting partner.The deal, which runs until the 2022, was announced just 24 hours after the club launched its channels on major social platforms in China, WeChat and Weibo, as part of a strategy to boost its international commercial development.“This is an important agreement which allows Lazio to continue on the growth path in a market, such as Asia, which is fundamental for us,” said Lazio’s marketing manager, Marco Canigiani.Lazio and other football clubs have been unable to sign partnerships with betting operators in Italy since the start of 2019 due to the so-called ‘Dignity Decree’.The ban applies to all gambling-related products and services across all media platforms – including television, websites and radio – and sports clubs are prohibited from carrying sponsors from the industry. Email Address 8th June 2020 | By contenteditor Serie A football club SS Lazio has signed a partnership with HQ Bet as part of a broader expansion plan in the Asian market. Lazio signs up Chinese betting partner Topics: Marketing & affiliates Sports bettingcenter_img AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to FacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitter Subscribe to the iGaming newsletter Regions: China Europe Southern Europe Italy Marketing & affiliateslast_img read more

Japanese Racing to remain behind closed doors until October

first_imgAddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to FacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitter The Japan Racing Association (JRA) announced that horse racing in the country will continue to take place behind closed doors until at least 4 October.Racing in Japan has been conducted behind closed doors, with all racecourse venues closed to spectators since 29 February, as part of an ongoing attempt to curb the spread of novel coronavirus (Covid-19).Having planned to reopen Nigata Racecourse to spectators from 15 August, the JRA subsequently suspended these plans.Off-track betting facilities, however, have been reopening since July, allowing customers to place bets and cash out winning tickets, in accordance with restrictions such as limited opening hours, alongside additional safety protocols.Races are not being televised within the facilities, nor is odds information being provided. Venues are also expected to comply with conditions such as regular employee temperature and health checks, plexiglass barriers between customers and staff, employee use of face masks and high-frequency sanitation of any high-touch areas.Despite the restrictions, the first half of the JRA’s 2020 season, which ran to 28 June, saw sales rise 1.5% year-on-year to JPY1.48tn (£10.70bn/€11.86bn/$13.94bn), with customers still able to bet online. Japanese Racing to remain behind closed doors until October Tags: OTB and Betting Shops The Japan Racing Association (JRA) announced that horse racing in the country will continue to take place behind closed doors until at least 4 October. 27th August 2020 | By Conor Mulheir Topics: Sports betting Regions: Asia Japan Sports betting Subscribe to the iGaming newsletter Email Addresslast_img read more