Monthly Archives: January 2020

Singapore Pools admits finding more online gambling ‘glitches’

Singapore’s state-run online lottery and sports betting monopoly has confessed that its software ‘glitches’ are more widespread than originally reported.

Two weeks ago, Singapore Pools announced that ‘glitches’ in its online lottery software had prevented customers from winning prizes in its TOTO Quick Pick and Quick Pick System Roll options. On Friday, the company announced that two other products – iTOTO and telephone 4D Quick Pick Bets – had suffered their own glitches.

The original glitches meant that the number 49 was accidentally being omitted from online Quick Pick selections, so players lost out if that number appeared when the winning numbers were drawn.

Singapore Pools says affected customers will have their money refunded and be given a S$5 ‘token’ while customers who claimed prize winnings despite the glitch will have their winnings boosted by 50%. The company will also add S$500k to the prize pool for a TOTO draw in February.

LeoVegas restructures UK ops, cancels Malta expansion plans

Online gambling operator LeoVegas is restructuring its UK-facing operations and calling off plans to open a larger Malta office as the company looks to keep costs under control.

On Friday, the Stockholm-listed LeoVegas announced a series of ‘strategic measures in the UK and related cost initiatives’ that includes the previously mentioned plan to pull its Royal Panda online casino brand from the UK market as of today (31).

LeoVegas is also migrating its Rocket X online gambling brands to its main technical multi-brand platform Rhino. These brands – which include, BetUK, Slot Boss and UK Casino – were acquired in 2018 via a deal for Intellectual Property & Software Limited, which was subsequently rebranded as Rocket X.

LeoVegas said its acquisitions expanded UK operations had been running on three separate platforms, resulting in “internal complexity.” The company unified its LeoVegas UK and Rocket X marketing efforts last year and the technical shift is the next logical step in the company’s streamlining efforts.

PAGCOR sees income plunge as it crunches the final ’19 numbers

While certain types of gambling are receiving more attention on the global stage, this doesn’t necessarily mean that the industry is going to see huge spikes in income.   There is a push to allow expanded gambling in a number of countries but, at the same time, those countries want to place serious controls on how the markets operate.  Just like Macau saw a drop from 2018 to 2019 in its performance, so has the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp (PAGCOR), the state-backed gaming regulator and casino operator in the Philippines.  According to financial data it released yesterday, PAGCOR reports that its net income plummeted by 71.4% for the whole of 2019.

PAGCOR reports that its net income was PHP9.01 billion (US$177.2 million) for the year, despite an increase of 11.7% in gross gaming income.  Casino customers accounted for PHP24.70 billion ($485.35 million) of the cash flow, while PHP53.28 billion ($1.04 billion) came from junket operators, non-casino customers and other sources of income.  The productivity is a result of PAGCOR’s operations at state-run casinos, as well as its management of certain private-sector venues in the country.

The numbers could have been worse.  The entity received a little support from regulator fees on licensed casinos, which accounted for PHP28.68 billion ($563.56 million) in revenue.  This represents a year-on-year increase of 18.9%, and helped to shore up what would have otherwise been even greater losses.

Expenses took a substantial chunk out of PAGCOR’s gross income for the year.  It tallied deductions of PHP39.77 billion ($781.48 million), divided between its 50/50 revenue-sharing agreement with the country, taxes and the state’s Dangerous Drugs Board.  Those figures were, respectively, PHP35.93 billion ($706.38 million), around PHP3.79 billion ($74.47 million) to cover the 5% franchise tax and PHP60 million ($1.17 million) for the board.

High Roller Events Announced for 2020 World Series of Poker

The World Series of Poker in 2020 is going to be a big one, with more online events mooted than ever before, and the usual hoopla surrounding a Main Event that might become the biggest one in history for the 50th anniversary.

Nothing is bigger than playing a High Roller at the WSOP, however, and this year’s raft of eye-watering big-money events would cost a massive $625,000 in buy-ins if you want to enter them all. Each event of the following costs a massive $25,000 and up, with the most expensive event being the $250,000-entry Super High Roller event that takes place on the 27th June.

With this year’s series running for seven weeks from May 26th to July 15th, the first High Roller event to take at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas is the $25,000-entry no limit hold’em event which will take place from May 29th at 3pm local time.

The $10,000-entry Heads-Up Championship that many feared was out from the schedule is in fact right back into it, but just costs $25,000 to enter instead of the previous single stack of high society. The attendance for the Heads-Up Championships in recent years haven’t been the highest. If the organisers are hoping that more players will turn up with more money on the line, then it is a bigger risk for an even better reward. Should the $25,000-entry version be successful – it has a 64-player ‘cap’ – then the future of the Heads-Up Championship will be assured. Flop harder than the $10,000-entry version and it could be curtains for the – in our opinion at least – classic WSOP event.

Regulator approvals of Caesars/Eldorado continue to arrive

If there were doubts lingering about whether or not Eldorado Resorts would be able to acquire Caesars Entertainment, essentially creating one of the largest casino companies in the US, those doubts are beginning to fade.  Eldorado received approval from Missouri regulators in December before Louisiana regulators with the Louisiana Gaming Control Board signed off on the deal earlier this month.  Now, three more approvals have been given, making the merger that much more likely to happen sometime during the first half of this year.

Eldorado issued a statement this week, indicating that it had been given the green light by three more regulatory bodies to move forward with the acquisition.  It explained that it had “received approval from the Louisiana Racing Commission (LRC), the Pennsylvania State Horse Racing Commission [PSHRC], and the Illinois Gaming Board (IGB) in connection with its pending acquisition of Caesars Entertainment Corporation, subject to customary conditions.”

In Pennsylvania, the deal still has to be approved by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) and approval by the LRC was necessary because of Harrah’s Louisiana Downs, a property owned by Caesars.  The PSHRC was involved because of Harrah’s Philadelphia, another Caesars venue, that offers sports gambling in both the retail and online spaces.  There are no concerns about the PGCB signing off on the deal since Eldorado has no presence in Pennsylvania, and the Harrah’s property is the only one in the state currently operating under the Caesars name.  As such, creating a local market that is overrun with post-merger venues is a non-issue.

Securing support from the IGB is a big deal because of the current gaming environment in Illinois.  Expansion is happening at a rapid rate, even if Chicago can’t figure out where to put a casino, and, between Eldorado and Caesars, they currently operate three properties in the state.

Macau junket operators drop another 5% in 2019

Macau had a rough year in 2019, and a slow decline in VIP play had something to do with that. That taken into account, it’s no surprise that junket operations continued to decline, falling 5% to 95 total, Macau Business reports.

These new figures come care of the Gaming Inspection and Co-ordination Bureau (DICJ), which published the figures in their Official Gazette. This new total of 95 junkets falls from 100 at the end of 2018, which itself was a drop from 109 the year before.

This decline may not be great for junket operators or Macau concessionaires, but it does make one junket insider look pretty smart. In February 2018, Kwok Chi Chung, president of the Macau Association of Gaming and Entertainment Promoters, predicted the junket sector would continue to shrink, predicting the U.S.-China trade war, a lack of smoking lounges, and a shift to mass market gaming would reduce junket revenues.

Most of those fears came true, as Macau struggled hard in 2018 to build on its revenues. Gaming revenue fell 3.4% year over year as VIPs struggled to get the credit they need to gamble, and a shift to mass market players didn’t happen fast enough to continue solid growth. While analysts hoped 2020 would be better, the outbreak of the coronavirus has already crushed tourism numbers, and hopes for growth.

Gambling operators make sizable donations to stop the coronavirus

As over 200 people have now died from the coronavirus and the World Health Organization dubs it an “international public health emergency,” international casino operators are stepping up their efforts to help keep things from getting worse.  The virus has already been identified as present in a large number of countries around the world, and measures are in place to try to prevent it from spreading further.  To help with those efforts, Meg-Star and Melco Resorts and Entertainment have both announced that they are making substantial donations to the cause.

Meg-Star, through its Meg-Star International Charity Association, announced yesterday that it is donating MOP$10 million ($1.24 million) to the fight.  It has created the “Wuhan Coronavirus Special Fund,” which is designed to facilitate anti-epidemic measures in the core city where the virus was first identified, Wuhan, China.

The contribution will mainly be used to bring much-needed medical supplies to Wuhan and the province in which it lies, Hubei.  Meg-Star is also negotiating with a number of non-profit organizations in an effort to jointly bring anti-virus solutions to the province.

Melco is ready to assist as much as it can, as well.  The company announced this past Wednesday that it had earmarked $2.6 million of its available cash, which will also go to Wuhan and the Hubei province.  As with Meg-Star’s contribution, the money will reportedly be used to purchase medical supplies, as well as to provide support to local communities in the area.

Wings and Wagers: Hooters in on the sports gambling scene

It’s almost finally here – Super Bowl LIV is just two days away, and this NFL Championship game is already breaking the bank with the number of bets it is attracting.  Around the world, more than $7 billion is expected to be wagered on the game, and restaurant chain Hooters wants to make sure it doesn’t miss out on the fun.  It announced yesterday that it has teamed up with a sports gambling company, as well as an advertising firm, to give diners in some states the ability to place wagers with their wings.

According to the company, known for its scantily-clad food servers and Buffalo wings, it will be offering gamblers in Indiana, New Jersey and Pennsylvania the opportunity to enjoy some betting action during their visits to the restaurants.  KonekTV televisions, specializing in sports information, are being used to display key stats, analytics and odds provided by BetRivers, and patrons will be able to place their bets directly with the online app, or by phone or web browser, offered by the sportsbook.

Hooters of America CEO Terry Marks asserts, “We love enhancing the guest experience in any way we can from best-in-class food and service to top-notch entertainment. Partnering with KonekTV allows us to bring a whole new world of opportunities to our guests and creates another reason as to why Hooters is the ultimate hangout spot.”

While Hooters would definitely like to be able to offer its new service in more of its venues, it will have to wait.  Hooters of America, which franchises the Hooters name, has 410 restaurants in 38 states and 24 countries; however, only the three aforementioned states have given BetRivers approval for its online sports gambling solution.  Perhaps next year there will be many more opportunities.

Australian Poker Open Event #5 Won by Stephen Chidwick for A$399,500

Stephen Chidwick didn’t just win his latest High Roller when he took down the 5th event of the Australian Poker Open series for A$399,500. In doing so, he took himself to 6th place on the all-time money list, overtaking the American David Peters. He also took the lead in the overall Australian Poker Open Championship – worth an extra $50,000 at the end of the series.

With the final table six-handed as ever, Colombian player Farid Jattin – who had already won an event in this series at the Star Gold Coast, was the first player out and it was a coinflip that he lost. All-in with ace-ten, Michael Addamo made the call with pocket sixes and held to eliminate the Colombian Jattin.

It would be Jorryt van Hoof who busted next in 5th place. It was a monster hand, too. Van Hoof moved all-in with pocket jacks, but was called by Seth Davies’ pocket queens. They held up and play moved four-handed, but the next player to bust would not last long. Michael Addamo, who made the shortlist at the Global Poker Awards for the final four players who could be declared to be the best in the world according to their peers – alongside Stephen Chidwick – would be busted next. He moved all-in with king-eight, but Davies called with ace-king and when Chidwick called too, Addamo was in danger.

Davies would hold to win the hand, and looked a real threat to the title, but Chidwick doubled back through him almost immediately. Chidwick then got the rest of Davies’ chips when he called Davies all-in move. Davies’ ace-five started ahead of Chidwick’s king-nine, and remained in that positive position on the ace-high flop. But the diamond flush draw was there, and on the river a diamond arrived to send play heads-up.

Sports betting integrity monitor notes decline in suspicious alerts

Suspected efforts by gamblers trying to fix sports matches were on the decline in 2019, according to the global body tasked with monitoring for such chicanery.

On Wednesday, the International Betting Integrity Association (IBIA) issued its annual report on the number of suspicious alerts it issued regarding possible attempts at match-fixing. The IBIA’s members include many of the global betting industry’s major players, who supply the data over which the IBIA keeps a close eye.

The IBIA (formerly known as ESSA) reported 45 suspicious alerts in the final quarter of 2019, bringing the full-year total to 183, a 31% decline from 2018’s total. Tennis continued to account for the bulk of alerts with 101, although this was down 43% from 2018. Football ranked second on the number of alerts with 49, while no other sport got out of single-digit territory.

A majority (52%) of 2019’s alerts came from outside Europe, seven points higher than the year before. Europe still scored highest on individual number of alerts (87), followed by Asia (52) and Africa (15), while North and South America tied with 13 alerts apiece.

Seven biggest Premier League transfers this week

With just 48 hours of the English Premier League transfer window remaining, the race for the most talented players in Europe is heatting up. Every club seems to be under the most intense pressure. Chelsea need a striker, Tottenham Hotspur also need a front man and Manchester United need four or five players in a variety of positions, if you believe everything you read.

What you can believe are the seven transfers below, which have passed muster, got through all the necessary checks and have been announced by the holding up of a scarf, a Twitter video or in some cases, both. Who’s the best value? You decide.

Bruno Fernandes – Sporting Lisbon to Manchester United, £46.5m

The ‘Sporting’ saga of the winter window according to TV sports stations is finally over. With Gedson Fernandes already having joined Tottenham, everyone has been waiting for the so-called ‘best’ Fernandes to head to Old Trafford, which eventually took place today. The back-to-back Player of the Year from the Portuguese Primeira Liga heads to United seen as something of a savior. Can he deliver? We’ll start to find out from Saturday evening when he should be in the squad to host Wolves.

Australian Open semi-finals loom as world number one Nadal falls

The final four players in both the Men’s Singles and Women’s Singles tournaments at the 2020 Australian Open have been decided. With multiple Grand Slam winners and new names both desperate for success, we look at who might prevail with just two matches between each player and the trophy they crave.

In what has proved to be a truly International event in both draws, there are eight players remaining with a chance of being singles champion at the Aussie Open and they represent eight different countries.

In the men’s draw, it was expected that both Rafael Nadal and Stan Wawrinka would use all their experience against relative newcomers Dominic Thiem and Alexander Zverev respectively. Zverev in particular might have been expected to be nervous, having never reached a Grand Slam semi-final before, but he was able to sweep away the challenge of Wawrinka after an initial set that saw the German blown away by the Swiss player’s boundless enthusiasm and tireless ground-stroke making ability.

Zverev, however, has shown that he has more in the tank than in past seasons and rattled off three sets in a row, and will go into the semi-final fearless of what is to come. As will his opponent.