Monthly Archives: November 2020

China lottery sales grow in October but it won’t last

China’s lottery sales rebounded in October but fresh declines await as the government’s ban on instant gratification takes effect.

Figures released Monday by China’s Ministry of Finance show October’s lottery sales totaled RMB30.7b (US$4.8b), an 11.5% rise over the same month last year but nearly RMB5b below September 2020’s total.

Decent growth in the sports lottery segment (RMB18.4b, +24%) helped offset a 3.2% fall in October’s welfare lottery sales (RMB12.3b). For the year-to-date, total sales are down 23.9% to RMB261.4b, with broad declines in both welfare (-26.7%) and sports (-21.5%) products.

October will likely represent the last month of positive annual growth for a while, given the government’s order to conduct an “orderly delisting” of ‘high-frequency’ (sports) and ‘quick-opening’ (welfare) lottery products.

Sweden seeks ways to combat int’l online gambling ops

Sweden’s online gambling operators are offering rare praise for the government after it announced plans to target their internationally licensed competitors.

On Monday, Sweden’s Ministry of Finance announced that Gunnar Larsson, director-general of Sweden’s Chamber of Commerce, had been appointed to head an inquiry into how the country might more proactively discourage internationally licensed online gambling operators from targeting local customers without permission of the Spelinspektionen regulatory agency.

In announcing the appointment, Social Security Minister Ardalan Shekarabi said “increased efforts are needed” to steer online gamblers to locally licensed sites, in part to ensure better protection for problem gamblers but also to “protect the serious players in the gambling market from unfair competition.”

Some of those serious Swedish players might argue that they need more protection from the government, which hobbled their online casino operations this summer with ‘temporary’ limits on deposit and bonus offers. Swedish-licensed operators are currently protesting the government’s proposal to extend these limits past their original end date through June 30, 2021.

Private Poker Game Costs Man $3,000 Due to Canada’s COVID Restrictions

A private poker game has cost a 37-year-old Canadian more than he bargained for following a late-night police raid.

A 37-year-old from British Columbia, Canada, has been fined CA$3,000 for hosting a private poker game. (Image: Lake Country Calendar)

Officers stormed the unnamed man’s home at 1am after receiving an anonymous tipoff. Upon entering the property in Kamloops, British Columbia, they found a group of people playing poker.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) Superintendent Syd Lecky said the man was fined CA$3,000 for breaching COVID-19 guidelines.

Which Are the Most Popular Christmas Songs in the US and UK?

We’re feeling Christmassy already here at CardsChat. It’s the season to be jolly, make eggnog and eat gingerbread — what’s not to like? But it’s also time to turn on the radio, and bet on the most popular holiday jams.

Nothing is more divisive in December than Christmas music. Love it or loathe it, you’ll have to listen. So, we decided to get festive and find out what the nation’s favorite Christmas songs are in the UK and the US, state-by-state.

Does Colorado prefer the classics? Do New Yorkers dig carols? Is there a clear winner across the board? Or a truly hated tune? Yule never guess …

Top Twen-tree Spotify Christmas Songs

Irish Poker Masters Kicks Off Online on Friday

The schedule for this year’s Irish Poker Masters has been announced ahead of two opening events set to take place on Friday.

The Irish Poker Masters Online gets underway on December 4 and will feature 21 tournaments. (Image: Partypoker)

As has been the case for almost all of 2020, the action will take place online. With COVID-19 restrictions making any sort of live event impossible, the Irish Poker Masters team is leaning on its long-time partner, Partypoker.

The online series will feature 21 events and run from Dec. 4 to 16. An €1,100 main event tops the bill, but side events and satellites mean there should be something for everyone.

Detroit Pistons Enter Multi-Year Sports Betting Partnerships With FanDuel Group And DraftKings


The Detroit Pistons today announced multi-year partnerships with premier sports gaming companies FanDuel Group and DraftKings, Inc., making FanDuel and DraftKings official sports betting partners of the Pistons.

In addition to the use of official Pistons marks and logos, each partnership will include a mix of robust marketing assets, including in-arena signage and activations, television and digital advertising, and TV and radio presence to drive passionate Pistons enthusiasts to each entity’s sports betting offerings.

Detroit Pistons Chief Business Officer Mike Zavodsky praised the agreement with both companies and noted the commitment to building asset packages that provide engagement strategies unique to each business.

“We appreciate the partnership-minded and collaborative approach that both FanDuel and DraftKings brought to the table,” said Zavodsky. “We look forward to utilizing our platform to help each grow their presence within and connectivity to the Pistons and greater Detroit Metro communities.”

In addition to its partnership with FanDuel, the Pistons will also partner with MotorCity Casino Hotel. FanDuel and MotorCity Casino Hotel will offer exciting game day experiences at the newly designed FanDuel Sportsbook at MotorCity Casino in downtown Detroit. On game days, MotorCity Casino will provide fans with giveaways, exclusive viewing parties and other innovative experiences to enhance sports betting experience before, during and after the games.

“The Pistons are a progressive and forward-thinking franchise committed to its fans, and we see an incredibly valuable partnership opportunity as we connect our retail Sportsbook experience with Pistons game action in the arena,” said Mike Raffensperger, CMO of FanDuel. “This new relationship will create unique approaches for us to reach Pistons fans. With the FanDuel Sportsbook at MotorCity Casino and mobile gaming offerings on the FanDuel Sportsbook app, we will together offer engaging experiences both inside and outside the arena while giving fans access to unique betting promotions and content.”

An exciting element of the DraftKings partnership includes a “Piston For A Day” VIP fan experience giving users the opportunity to enter a contest where winners receive exclusive access to the team. Winners will sign a “Pistons Contract” for a day, pose for a photo with a member of the front office staff, receive a personalized Pistons jersey and warm-up clothing to wear to a Pistons game, receive a locker room tour and postgame shot on the Little Caesars Arena floor and private access for a one-hour shootaround on the Pistons Practice Court at the Henry Ford Detroit Pistons Performance Center.

“As our first professional team activation in the state of Michigan, we are thrilled to join forces with the Detroit Pistons ahead of our pending market introduction,” said Ezra Kucharz, Chief Business Officer, DraftKings. “This deal deepens our relationship with a prominent local team to facilitate more immersive fan experiences, both for Michiganders familiar with regulated gaming products as well as newcomers to the space.”

Melco Resorts gets a little breathing room to pay lenders

Melco Resorts & Entertainment has had some difficulties this year because of COVID-19. It already reported that it lost $331 million in the third quarter of the year, and the fourth quarter isn’t shaping up to be much better. When it announced the results, Melco indicated that its activity in Manila and Cyprus were helping to shore up its finances, but Cyprus has since been forced to take a step backward and two Melco casinos there were temporarily closed about two weeks ago. Anticipating further financial restraints on the way, Melco reached out to its lenders for some relief, and have reportedly found what it needed. 

Melco Resorts Finance Limited (MRFL), the wholly-owned Melco subsidiary that is responsible for the company’s City of Dreams Macau and Altira Macau, reported last Friday that it had worked out a deal with lenders to renegotiate some terms associated with credit lines it received earlier this year. At the end of April, the company received a revolving credit facility worth $1.92 billion from a group of financial institutions, which Melco wanted to use to increase its liquidity throughout the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

MRFL’s own subsidiary, MCO Nominee One Limited, worked with the lenders to reach a new arrangement for the credit, and most of them were amenable to the alternatives – the MRFL announcement didn’t specify who agreed and who didn’t. It explained that it had received confirmation that it could waive several covenants in the agreements, including the need to “meet or exceed the interest cover ratio (ratio of consolidated EBITDA to consolidated net finance charges as such terms are defined in the Facility Agreement) of 2.50 to 1.00,” to “not exceed the senior leverage ratio (ratio of consolidated total debt to consolidated EBITDA as such terms are defined in the Facility Agreement) of 3.50 to 1.00” and to “not exceed the total leverage ratio (ratio of consolidated total debt to consolidated EBITDA as such terms are defined in the Facility Agreement) of 4.50 to 1.00.” All of the conditions apply to the company’s required payment periods, which correspond to December 31, 2020, March 31, 2021, June 30, 2021, September 30, 2021 and December 31, 2021.

In order to receive approval for the changes, Melco’s MCO Nominee One subsidiary had to pay a “customary fee” to all of the financial institutions that approved the deal. However, it didn’t specify how much was paid. Melco has been spinning its wheels this year, using a senior notes offering that attracted $500 million in July to pay $352.2 million of the principal amount due on credit facilities it received in 2020. The company went from having net income of $93 million in the third quarter of last year, to a net loss of $302.4 million in the third quarter of this year, and the new credit arrangements are most likely only going to allow it to barely keep treading water until it can emerge from the global pandemic.

Business owners should turn to podcasts in 2021 to make money

There are plenty of ways businesses can advertise and market their goods and services, but many of them become stale after a while. Everyone is now becoming more accustomed to visiting a website, particularly a news website, and being forced to watch videos (unless you’ve learned how to control the settings in your web browser). The videos could be news clips or even third-party advertising, but they’re prevalent now for two reasons – video captures attention and it sells. Heading into 2021, business leaders and entrepreneurs should embrace video to increase their reach, and this doesn’t mean spending a lot of money. One great way to spread brand awareness and generate greater sales is through podcasts, which can be produced for as little as free.

Podcasts make sense because of their practicality. Today, broadband is everywhere and faster broadband is increasingly prevalent at affordable prices. This means that the majority of the Netizens out there have super-fast connections and won’t have to wait for your podcast to buffer before they are able to enjoy it. This gives you the ability to show off your goods and services through video, instead of relying on just voice or static images. However, there’s even one more practical advantage. Podcasts, while mostly interactive video, easily allow you to extract the audio and present an audio presentation at no extra cost.

Anyone who has ever watched a sporting event has watched and listened to the commentators and announcers. These people are in their positions because they’re seen as the experts behind the game. This same premise applies to podcasts – when you launch a podcast, you are able to become the expert in your industry. The key, however, is to constantly provide new ideas, instead of simply talking about your products or services.

Podcasts are able to provide an emotional attachment with the consumer that can’t be found in simply browsing a webpage. They allow consumers to better interpret emotional commitment and connect on a “deeper” level with the brand and the products. This goes a long way to developing a trusting relationship that will definitely lead to better sales.

Dressing for success while working from home

The shift to remote work came rather suddenly for many in 2020, and figuring out what to wear while working remotely may have been the last thing many thought about. It’s easy to default to working in sweatpants or pajamas, but putting some thought into what you wear could boost your productivity, and improve your mood.

The gambling industry comes with a wide array of dress codes, depending on what part of the industry you belong to. While many may have gotten used to stricter dress codes in swanky London offices, others may have been in call center settings, and grown used to seeing others show up to work dressed as if they never left bed. Before anything else, dress for the job you have. If you’re expected to be on sales calls for a portion of the day, maybe you can skip the dress pants, but at least wear a nice shirt.

Beyond that, we can start to take advantage of not being in an office. Wear comfortable clothing that suits your space. Rather than wearing those long pants, you could wear shorts or sweatpants. Maybe go for a tasteful t-shirt rather than the collared option.

These are all great ways to take advantage of being at home and not having a constant audience. But there are downsides to prioritizing comfort.

Sportradar continues to improve sports in India

Legalizing and regulating sports gambling is one of the best ways to have a global impact on the integrity of athletic competitions. India didn’t get that memo, though, and a debate rages over whether or not gambling should be allowed. The country’s Minister of State for Finance, Anurag Thakur, understands the benefits and has sided with sports gambling proponents trying to bring legalized sports gambling to the country, and could perhaps get some additional support from Sportradar. The sports data provider has an established foothold in India, working with a number of sports organizations, and has just renewed another partnership that should have a positive impact on sports gambling in the country. It just signed a multi-year extension with the Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL), building on a relationship that began four years ago. 

Sportradar will continue to use its Sportradar Integrity Services (SIS) arm to monitor all Hero ISL matches. SIS is already found in the Indian Super League and the Pro Kabaddi League, and recently renewed a partnership with the Board of Control for Cricket in India to enhance anti-match-fixing measures in the Indian Premier League. Sportradar’s Fraud Detection System (FDS), a component of the SIS, is becoming a standard element of sports activity in the country, as well as throughout the world.

Andreas Krannich, the managing director of SIS, says in an announcement about the partnership renewal with Hero ISL, “Hero ISL renewing its partnership with us only shows how committed they are towards maintaining integrity in the game and proactive towards the growth of football in the subcontinent. As a global leader in sporting integrity, we want to continue to provide our expertise and help protect the tournament against all integrity-related issues.”

In addition to providing access to the FDS, Sportradar is also opening its Intelligence and Investigation Services applications to the sports group. This allows sports organizations to identify potential match-fixing and to investigate cases as they are reported or as tips are provided. Both the FDS and the IIS can be found in FIFIA, the Asian Football Conference and more.

Philippines senator wants to make Chinese immigration harder

Up until 2020, the Philippine Offshore Gambling Operator (POGO) sector played a huge role in servicing China with online gambling, and for that it needed a large Chinese workforce. That seems so long ago now, and Senator Risa Hontiveros is looking to heavily curtail the ability of POGOS to recruit new Chinese employees.

Hontiveros is calling on the Bureau of Imigration (BI) to suspend the Visa upon Arrival (VUA) scheme for Chinese nationals, requiring them to apply for visas before visiting the Philippines. She cites the crime created around the POGO industry, namely kidnappings, as the reason for the change.

“The crime that POGOs bring to the country is endless,” Hontiveros said. “We’ve already proven at the Senate that many Chinese POGO workers are the customers of prostituted and trafficked women, and now, the PNP also confirmed that cases of kidnapping are POGO-related. This is all no thanks to the VUA scheme.”

The Chinese VUA scheme started in 2017, and allowed Chinese nationals a much easier path to employment in the POGO sector. However, thanks to developments like the Pastillas scandal and continuing stories of kidnappings involving Chinese nationals, the benefits the VUA system might have brought to POGOs have now been outweighed in the public perception by the problems it caused.

Dylan Slaney thinks online gambling needs to learn from Netflix

The online gambling industry is usually at the forefront of technology and marketing techniques, but what if it has something to learn from other forms of entertainment? Dylan Slaney, SVP Digital Gaming, SG Digital, thinks that’s the case, and joined our Becky Liggero Fontana for this week’s episode of the Long Con.

Although gambling is usually seen in a much different light, Slaney notes that it’s still just entertainment. “It’s been part for me of the broader entertainment industry for many years, and it’s a place where people choose to spend time,” he said. “More of that time is being spent on mobile or digital devices, so today we compete for airtime with a host of industries and companies that form part of what I think is the new entertainment industry. So Netflix, Amazon Prime, Xbox, Playstation, etc.”

When you look at a Netflix or Amazon Prime, it offers the same wide variety of choice that many online casino sites do, but they offer something much more personalized to the user’s tastes. “I think they put the customer first and foremost at the center of every decision making,” he said. “Your experience on Netflix will be very different from mine, and it’s very different for anybody that uses that service.”

That’s where online gambling should be looking, Slaney said. “All that, I think, are just areas that from an iGaming perspective, and especially a digital iGaming perspective, that we can learn from to make again the experiences that that we curate, and also create, more rewarding for our players.”

Macau saw a sharp decline in gaming-related crime this year

This year has proven extremely difficult for Macau’s gaming industry because of COVID-19, with gross gaming revenue (GGR) dropping far below expectations and last year’s numbers. While this has had an impact on casino operators’ income, as well as that of the city, it has also apparently taken its toll on Macau’s criminal element, as well. The latest figures provided by the city’s Office of the Secretary for Security (OSS) show that gaming-related crime has dropped off considerably this year, except for one particular segment. 

As GGR fell 82.5% year on year across the first nine months of 2020, the criminal activity typically found in and around Macau’s casinos has plummeted, as well. The city’s police were called to investigate 23 cases of pickpocketing in area casinos, which is just a small fraction of the 148 cases it investigated during the same period last year. Gaming-related scams were down, too, with only 60 cases being reported in the first three quarters of the year. During the same timeframe last year, there had been 291 cases. 33 of this year’s cases were related to money exchanges.

Not a single robbery was reported between January and September, which has to be some kind of record. However, loansharking was still seen, with 57 cases reported. This is a drop of almost 88% from last year, but the figure is the total for Macau. The OSS didn’t specify how many of those were specific to the gaming industry. 

Perhaps some would-be criminals thought the lull in casino action would make watchful eyes less focused, but they were wrong. In the period, three counterfeit casino chips were found, with a total value of $2.4 million. Just one carried a face value of $129,000 (HKD1,000,000). However, that’s substantially fewer than the 189 from the same period last year, when $2.25 million (HKD17.5 million) in fake chips were confiscated. 

Pressure mounts as owner of London’s Park Lane Club remains anonymous

Park Lane Club, an upscale cardroom in London, is currently on hiatus after its owner, Silverbond Enterprises, lost its gaming license at the beginning of the month. The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) determined that the company’s leadership – primarily, Latvian entrepreneur Vasilijis Melniks – wasn’t deserving of a license due to an ongoing investigation into Melniks and his alleged ties to embezzlement and money laundering in Ukraine. However, there’s a problem. Melniks is not the head of Silverbond and it now appears that no one outside of the company knows who the real owner is. 

The UK has an obscure law that will most likely be amended now that the Park Lane Club mystery has surfaced. The UK Companies Act states in Section 790ZG that directors of certain public companies are not required to identify themselves if, by doing so, their safety could be put at risk. The cardroom has used this law to keep its leadership under wraps, but it was previously known that Melniks was leading Silverbond. According to a company representative, though, he hasn’t been involved with the company in over two years. 

Park Lane Club Compliance Director Debbie Dunn told The Evening Standard, “Following the sale of the company in 2018, [Mr.] Melniks is no longer a shareholder nor a director of the company, so we are unable to comment on his affairs.” However, she wouldn’t elaborate, asserting that the company is “currently going through a protracted corporate change of control process” that could be compromised if she were to reveal any additional details. 

In 2018, Melniks found himself in the hot seat as a Ukrainian court judge ordered his assets frozen. He has been accused of embezzling and laundering around $64 million from the country’s state-owned energy company, and that court action led the UKGC to investigate whether Silverbond should hold a license. Apparently, according to the gaming regulator, it shouldn’t.

Tri Nations Rugby Round 6 Preview & Tips

Australia and Argentina will be playing for pride in the final match of the Tri-Nations Championship this weekend in Sydney. Barring a miracle, both sides remain out of contention for the trophy, after the All Blacks scored a convincing 38-0 win over the Pumas, in Newcastle last weekend.

Despite back to back losses, the All Blacks claim the trophy thanks to the bonus-point victory. Australia or Argentina would need to win by 101 points to steal the Tri-Nations Cup.

Both the Wallabies and the Pumas will be desperate to finish the international season on a positive note. Its been a case of two steps forward and one step back for the Wallabies, who have struggled to put together two consistent performances across the competition.

Argentina have performed beyond expectations for a side that has been starved of match practice. Mario Ledesma’s side campaign will be remembered for his country’s first ever win over the All Blacks.