Monthly Archives: September 2020

Albania’s casino licensing plans require a secret decoder ring

Albania’s proposal to license casinos in the nation’s capital may turn out to have been a mirage, or just another example of political cronyism run amok. 

Last week, the Albanian Gambling Supervision Authority officially announced a tender for the right to operate casinos in a designated area in the heart of the capital Tirana. Interested operators were told to ensure their submissions were received by October 22.

The notice remains posted on the Authority’s website but local media outlet Exit reported Wednesday that Prime Minister Edi Rama was denying that his government had any intention of reversing the anti-gambling policy of recent years. Rama said Wednesday that there was no “reopening of gambling in Albania” and “no casino license.”

Rama (pictured) attempted to clarify that “a specific procedure has been created which is related to the expiration of the license of the only casino operating in Tirana.” That’s a reference to Adria Entertainment (formerly known as Apex-al), which runs a gaming floor at Tirana’s Regency Hotel featuring around 240 slots and 20 gaming tables.

China’s lottery sales rise; Baidu online gambling probe just getting started

China’s lottery operations posted their second straight month of year-on-year sales increases, while the investigation into Baidu’s alleged links to illegal online gambling sites continues.

On Wednesday, China’s Ministry of Finance reported that August’s lottery sales totaled just under RMB34.8b (US$5.1b), a 2% rise from the same month last year but 3.7% below the sum earned in July 2020, which marked the first year-on-year increase in 18 months.

August’s gains were entirely due to the sports lottery, which rose 2% to RMB21.5b, while the welfare lottery product slipped 9.3% to RMB13.25b. For the year-to-date, overall sales are off 30.3% to RMB194.8b.

September’s sales may extend the two-month winning streak but the government will shut down all lottery sales – with an exception made for instant lottery products – for a four-day period starting October 1 for the annual National Day holiday. So don’t count on this streak extending to four months.

Bert Stevens wins GGPoker Super MILLION$ for $393,362

The latest Super MILLION$ event on GGPoker was a very popular one, with 196 entries coughing up $10,000 to take part. In the end, it was Bert ‘girafganger’ Stevens (sometimes known as ‘girafganger7’) who won the $393,362 top prize, defeating a highly talented final table including players such as Sean Winter and Jake Schindler.

With a massive $2million guarantee, math sharps amongst you will note that the entries were just four short of reaching that number, so a little overlay was in the pit by the time late registration ended. Stevens himself would enjoy a cool profit of 393 times his stake having won through in a satellite costing just $1,000 compared with the full $10,000 buy-in.

The final day saw Stevens head into play second in chips, after 196 players were reduced to just the final nine. With other players such as Andras Nemeth, Matthias Eibinger, Dominik Nitsche, Steve O’Dwyer, Daniel Dvoress and Ali Imsirovic all failing to cash, others snuck into the money, such as Stephen Chidwick, who min-cashed for $22,798.

While plenty of recognizable names made the money but failed to make the final such as Bertrand ‘ElkY’ Grospellier (23rd for $22,798), Christoph Vogelsang (18th for $22,798) and Mike Watson (10th for $35,953). 

The Secret Coach: Is Mourinho still the master?

For the last few years, debate has raged in English football about whether Jose Mourinho still has what it takes to manage at the top level. Despite winning the Europa League with Manchester United, the Portuguese manager could get the Red Devils no nearer to a Premier League title they haven’t win since Alex Ferguson retired in his three years at the club.

Likewise, while Mourinho excelled in his first Chelsea stint between 2004 and 2007, his return yielded one title and a lot of trouble, eventually leading to his acrimonious exit from the club. Last night, a year into his role as Tottenham Hotspur manager, Jose Mourinho welcomed not just his old team in Chelsea in the Carabao Cup , but his former midfield general Frank Lampard, who currently holds the reigns at Stamford Bridge.

We followed last night’s game in the company of a professional football coach in English football, who will remain anonymous. He’s worked with some of the biggest names in the game, going through the coaching process, and is currently part of the team at an English league side… and that’s all we’re telling you. He’ll be honest each week about what he sees as he sees it. As ever, The Secret Coach pulls no punches!

Pre-match, Mourinho has often been known to send out messages rather than talk too much about what he and his team intend to do during the game and last night’s Carabao Cup tie was no different.

Listen to Calvin Ayre talk about how he found opportunity in Bitcoin

Calvin Ayre wasn’t always the rich entrepreneur he is now; He had to work his way up the hard way. He did well for himself, building up a gambling brand, and has now moved on to the Bitcoin world. Before the CoinGeek Live conference kicked off, Ayre joined Dustin Plantholt on the Life’s Tough podcast to discuss how he got to where he is now.

Ayre grew up in the farmlands of Saskatchewan, telling Plantholt that he walked to school with pig shit on his boots, just like all the other kids. But after gaining a college education and starting a business in Vancouver, Ayre quickly saw there was a market opportunity in the nascent world of online gambling. He gave his theory of how he did so well in those early days:

“I think my secret sauce was early on, coming up with a better branding strategy and marketing plan. A lot of the incumbents in the earliest days were actually street bookies who’d just kind of said ‘Lets go online.’ So they weren’t very flamboyant and they just didn’t really understand the concept of marketing. You don’t market yourself in a traditional manner when you’re doing street bookie stuff, because you don’t want people to know other than your customers.”

Plantholt asks if a drive for money motivated Ayre. “Actually, I never really thought I’d be this successful in my career,” Ayre answered. “I actually was more driven by challenges. I think I can do this, and I do it. It was incremental and it kept getting bigger, and bigger and bigger. I kind of just like building things, I’m kind of a builder.”

888 soars on solid H1 report, speculation of deal for Hills’ Euro ops

UK-listed online gambling operator 888 Holdings saw its shares spike by more than one-fifth on Wednesday on impressive H1 earnings and speculation that it could buy William Hill’s European online operations.

Figures released Wednesday show 888 generated revenue of US$379m in the six months ending June 30, 37% higher than the same period last year, while adjusted earnings jumped 56% to $70m and pre-tax profits soared 130% to $50.9m.

The casino vertical remains 888’s bread-and-butter, and there was a whole lot more butter this year. Casino revenue shot up 48% to $260m as first-time depositors rose 72%. Poker revenue increased 56% to $36.1m as first-time depositors more than doubled. In fact, poker was responsible for nearly one-quarter of all first-time depositors in H1.

Sports betting started 2020 off strong, with revenue up 22% in the first two months, then came COVID-19 and the subsequent halt to major sports activity. But the resumption of play and a sportsbook launch in Sweden meant H1 betting revenue slipped only 1% to $44.1m – and would have risen 2% at constant currency – while June’s betting stats were 59% ahead of June 2019.