FansUnite approved for Toronto stock exchange listing

The Vancouver-headquartered sports betting and igaming operator and supplier said the approval, which sees it switch from the Canadian Securities Exchange, will assist its growth plans and offer an opportunity for investors seeking to benefit from North American regulated gambling growth.

Final approval of the listing is subject to the company – which owns North American-focused American Affiliate – fulfilling certain customary conditions that are required by TSX.

To read the full article, visit iGB North America.

Online gambling proposal confirmed for California’s November ballot

The Secretary of State in the US’s most populous state announced on Monday that the proposed law, which is backed by major gaming groups such as BetMGM, has attracted around 1.1 million valid signatures – well above the 997,000 required to make the ballot.

The confirmation it has qualified for the ballot was met with opposition from tribal gaming groups, whose own Tribal Sports Wagering Act initiative that would legalise sports betting at limited locations, including tribal casinos, has already been accepted for November’s poll.

Tribal chairman Cody Martinez, of the Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation, said: “We will run a vigorous campaign against this measure and are confident the voters will see through the deceptive promises being made by these out-of-state gambling corporations.”

For the full article, visit iGB North America.

BGC calls for “balance” amid reports of £2 online casino stake cap

A report in today’s Times newspaper claims measures included in the document could include the restriction of maximum online casino stakes to between £2 and £5. The Times also said the white paper could feature a ban on free bets and VIP packages for those who incur heavy losses, as well as what it described as “non-intrusive” affordability checks.
Operators would also have to remove online features which “increase the level of risk” for customers, though examples of such features were not provided. The report also said Gambling Commission will be granted new powers along with extra funding from increased fees paid by the industry.

The Times reports that proposals to prohibit gambling companies from shirt sponsorship were set to be rejected in favour of reaching a voluntary agreement with Premier League clubs.

A Betting and Gaming Council spokesperson said: “We welcome the Government’s gambling review, and we strongly support many of the measures we expect to be in the forthcoming White Paper. Indeed, we have campaigned for many of them.

“On behalf of the 119,000 people whose jobs depend on the regulated betting and gaming industry, we will of course study the white paper when it is published, consider the impact it might have, and respond accordingly.

“The latest statistics showed the rate of problem gambling in the year to March 2022 was 0.2% – down from 0.4% the year previous. However, the number of punters using the unsafe, unregulated black market has doubled in recent years to 460,000 and the amount being bet is now in the billions. The white paper will have to balance the need to protect the vulnerable and those at risk, whilst not driving the millions of people who enjoy a bet perfectly safely to the black market.

“The Government can and should act without delay, and it should seek to use the powers it has in the current Gambling Act to avoid a lengthy and needless legislative process in Parliament.”

The Government is set to announce restrictions on the industry as part of the review of the 2005 Gambling Act amid concerns current regulations require changes to accommodate the growth of online betting. The terms of the review were announced in late 2020, with matters such as stake limits and the role of the Gambling Commission among the main areas of consideration.

A spokesperson for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) refused to comment on speculation following the Times story, but added: “We are undertaking the most comprehensive review of gambling laws in 15 years to ensure they are fit for the digital age. We will be publishing a White Paper as part of a review of gambling legislation in the coming weeks.”

Camelot “disappointed” as court allows GC to award Allwyn lottery licence

However, the legal challenge itself – regarding whether the Commission lawfully awarded the licence to Allwyn – will still continue.

The Court ruled on Wednesday that the suspension put in place in April should be lifted, meaning the Gambling Commission can sign an enabling agreement with Allwyn ahead of the scheduled beginning of its licence period in February 2024.

The suspension was put in place after Camelot – which has run the Lottery since it launched in 1994 – began legal action following the Commission’s announcement in March that Allwyn was its preferred applicant for the fourth National Lottery licence.

While the suspension has been lifted, the High Court has yet to rule on Camelot’s legal challenge over the Gambling Commission’s selection process and preferred applicant decision.

Commenting on the ruling, a Camelot spokesperson said: “While disappointing, this judgement only addresses whether or not the enabling agreement can be signed while our case is heard. The judgment on whether the Gambling Commission correctly and lawfully awarded preferred applicant status is being dealt with separately.

“We will take some time to consider our next steps and continue to believe that we have a very strong legal case. In the meantime, we remain dedicated to maximising returns to Good Causes, building on our record performance over the past two years.”

The crux of Camelot’s challenge focused on the scoring system and risk factor applied to judging the candidates for the fourth lottery licence.

Camelot had initially received the highest score in a system where all bids were assessed with scorecards under the planned scoring system. This system included a ‘risk discount’ that was applied to scores in order to take into account the possibility that an operator falls short of its projected target for good causes. The impact of the ‘risk discount’ was then reduced and bids were rescored, pushing Allwyn into first place.

Following today’s ruling, the Gambling Commission said in a statement: “We will also now be preparing for trial of the various claims. We remain resolute that we have run a fair and robust competition, and that our evaluation has been carried out fairly and lawfully in accordance with our statutory duties.

“We have taken every step possible to ensure a level playing field for all interested parties, to enable us to appoint a licensee who will engage and protect players, run the National Lottery with integrity and ensure the National Lottery maximises support for good causes and its contribution to society through further innovation and investment.”

Allwyn UK said in a statement this morning: “Today’s ruling is good news for the National Lottery; it enables the Gambling Commission to move forward to award Allwyn the fourth National Lottery licence.

“Mrs. Justice O’Farrell was clear that the public interest, and in particular the impact on good causes, was a strong factor in her judgment. Her decision paves the way for the transition to Allwyn, the winner of the fourth licence competition, serving the National Lottery as its operator from February 2024; kickstarting a transformation programme that brings an enhanced games portfolio, new technologies, provisions for safer play, and a substantial increase in returns to good causes.”

Earlier this week, Camelot reported a fall in ticket sales during the 2021/22 as the National Lottery felt the impact of a post-pandemic retail footfall decline and the cost-of-living crisis.

Camelot said £8.09bn of sales were made, which was down 2.5% from the £8.3bn generated in the prior year. However, 2021/22 was only the second time that sales figures have broken the £8bn mark.

Bally’s signs $1bn sale leaseback deal for Rhode Island casinos

The Bally’s Twin River Lincoln Casino Resort and Bally’s Tiverton Casino & Hotel properties in Rhode Island are being acquired by GLP Capital, the operating partnership of the gaming real estate investment trust.

Bally’s will immediately lease back both properties and continue to own, control, and manage all the gaming operations of the facilities on an uninterrupted basis. It said the deal is subject to customary regulatory approvals, with Lincoln also subject to lender consent.

For the full article, visit iGB North America.

Romanian trade body criticises proposed 40% tax on withdrawals

The association emphasised the negative effects that a wide migration to illegal sites – which it expected to occur if the tax is implemented – would have for all involved parties: not only for players but also operators and the government, whose revenues would potentially decrease rather than increase.

AOJND president Odeta Nestor stated: “Before adopting such a fiscal measure, a number of factors must be taken into account. First, online gambling is primarily an entertainment industry, not a source of revenue for players.”

“According to AOJND data, over 80% of those who withdraw money after participating in gambling, withdraw amounts of up to a maximum of ROL1,000 (£175/€202/$213), but most of them are in fact much smaller, in the order of just a few hundred lei. Basically, we are mostly talking about cases in which the player does not pursue the win at any cost but the pleasure of competing. In this way online gambling being rather a source of reducing daily stress.”

The association stressed the 90% channeling rate to legal operators that online operators enjoy in the country and said this may be in danger. It also estimated that – if the tax comes into effect – online gambling businesses may pay up to 50% less in tax following a general reduction in activity.

“I have often emphasized that Romania is a success story in terms of gambling legislation. But this situation depends on the ability of the authorities to maintain an attractive legislative and fiscal framework,” Nestor continued.

“AOJND, as a forum that brings together the most important online operators licensed in Romania, provides the government with all its expertise and requests the organization of industry-wide consultations, this being the only way to obtain an advantageous solution for all parties involved”.

NeoGames agrees first lottery and sports betting deal in Brazil

NeoGames will provide an end-to-end solution of ilottery and online sports betting to Intralot do Brasil, which has been partnered with Minas Gerais’ state lottery for more than a decade. The agreement is NASDAQ-listed NeoGames’ first partnership that will take advantage of its BtoBet division, which it recently acquired as part of its SEK4.3bn (£344.1m/€402.3m/$423.5m) purchase of Aspire Global.

The comprehensive digital solution is expected to build on the existing retail lottery and digital keno program in the state. NeoGames will provide Intralot do Brasil with its NeoSphere platform, a variety of eInstant games from the NeoGames Studio tailored to the local market, and a wide range of services.

Moti Malul, NeoGames’ chief executive, said: “Working with the professional team at Intralot do Brasil, we are truly excited to support the goals of Loteria Mineira. By delivering our industry leading platform, comprehensive player-focused services, and market-proven games, as well as leveraging our advanced online sports betting solutions BtoBet, we are beginning to demonstrate one of the key strategic benefits for our recent acquisition of Aspire Global.

“By early next year, we will provide online lottery and sports betting players in Minas Gerais with an exceptional online gaming experience.

“We hope to serve as a strong partner to Intralot do Brasil in helping them achieve continued success in Minas Gerais, while simultaneously supporting our near and long-term objectives in Brazil and throughout Latin America.”

Sérgio Alvarenga, Saga Consultoria and Intralot do Brasil chief executive and owner, said “As a leader in the Brazilian Lottery market, we are delighted to join forces with NeoGames in a partnership that is intended to provide our players with a comprehensive digital program that will expand and enhance our content and services offerings in Minas Gerais to new and exciting areas, such as online instant games and online sports betting.

“The new modalities and investments in technology are also part of the expansion plan for new states and federal licenses. NeoGames is one of the most experienced and innovative iLottery providers in the market and we are confident that this partnership will drive our lottery forward.”

The announcement comes as Brazil prepares to regulate sports betting. Draft rules for the market were published last month.

React Gaming appoints interim CEO Leigh Hughes

Hughes takes up the position at the Toronto-listed owner of the brand immediately, replacing Laurent Benezra, who is stepping down from his current role as president and chief executive as well as director of the corporation. Benezra, who took over at React – then Intema Solutions – in 2019, will remain in a consultancy capacity.

Hughes is an entrepreneur and venture capitalist with over 20 years of experience working with private and public companies across the globe, particularly in North America, Australia and the Asia-Pacific region. 

To read the full article, click here.

Towards intolerance of illegal operators

Online gambling has existed since the inception of the internet, and over time we have seen increasing concern arise from the issue of black market gambling. 

Equally, nearly all countries implementing legal market controls have encountered rising rates of gambling harm and negative social consequences, the causes for many of which remain outside the licensed market.

While there is much talk about the “licensed level playing field”, it’s hard to see how any marketplace is effectively levelled to the benefit of any parties if it tolerates the presence of the illicit black market. These shadow operators reap a competitive advantage as their regulated competitors pay a licence fee and taxes and comply with restrictive marketing guidelines and problem gambling programs, not to mention their inherent advantage of long-standing presence in the marketplace.  This is not a surprise, since making money without paying any fees or taxes is always a lucrative business model.

Legislators often assume legalization and regulation will eliminate the ‘black market’ or at least reduce it to insignificance, but that is not the case. In February of this year, the Betting and Gaming Council released research from a PWC report, a few of the highlights of which are below:

In Norway, the black market now accounts for over 66% of all money stakedIn France, the black market accounts for 57% of all money stakedIn Italy, the black market accounts for 23% of money stakedIn Spain, the black market accounts for 20% of all money staked

Meanwhile, a United Nations report from December 2021 found global illegal operators take in up to a staggering $1.7tn worth of bets per year, creating huge risks for the integrity of global sporting events and fair play.

Recognising the marketplace: 3 stages of regulatory evolution

Just as regulation evolved to protect consumers and control the online gaming industry, the black market has adapted to take advantage of the shift to increasing licensing and regulation. In the absence of effective consumer education concerning what is and is not a licensed, regulated and tax-paying betting and gaming operator, the black market has thrived. 

Presently, the world is split into 3 stages of regulatory evolution:

Pre-Regulated Market: 

No specific laws exist in the market concerning online betting and gaming. As such, there is no black or white market for online betting and gaming in such a territory – the market is permissible, both legally and practically, but all entrants acknowledge some potential legal risk in the future if they choose to offer services in this pre-regulatory state.

Regulating Market:

These markets – in the process of drafting and enabling legislation -may be labelled “grey” if they have little to no currently enforceable law to restrict or control online entrants.

A territory at this stage can, sometimes visibly, sow seeds of black market expansion as legal and compliance conversations before launch push certain operators to make decisions over whether to “go rogue” and remain in a market, illicitly, without a licence.

Regulated Market:

A market featuring licensing and taxation, with policing and enforcement, typically only against the licensed operators. The UK would be a prime example. 

In these markets, government insouciance allows the black market to exist, and tightening of regulations for licensed operators can offer advantage to the black market.  In the UK, one of the most mature regulated online gaming markets, the present government have embarked on a process that is likely to lead to fundamental change.

Changes like these are opportunities for the black market and help provide the raison d’être to remain, illicitly, in a marketplace.  These changes to “the business of betting and gaming”  across products – ads and bonusing in particular – can often lead to demand from the gambling consumers for what they have become “used to”.  It is unregulated illegal operators who will continue to provide these favoured ‘comfort blanket’ elements, appealing to consumer familiarity.

Consumer Understanding

The issue with the status of the black market, historically and today, is that few consumers actively identify the sites and apps of these operators as illicit, illegal or irresponsible.

Why? The answer, simply, is due to the way that players find and access their services. They look, feel and operate like any other online betting and gaming provider, and consumers locate them via identical means: search engines, social media, online ads, referrals, PR etc. At no point did any consumer need to go to the seedy part of town to find these providers – it was, and is, readily available via their smartphone handset and a Google search. 

Searching online for a casino or sportsbook will deliver mixed results. Some legal, licensed sites will show up in regulated territories but so will many unlicensed sites, available without any reference to national or state laws, disrespectful of product restrictions, and, alarmingly, without any contribution to tax or player protection measures.

If players are indifferent towards whether an operator is legal, licensed and regulated, that is a byproduct of a general lack of education and public awareness.  The mass market therefore has little understanding of what is, and is not, a licensed site, nor why such a system even exists. Or why they should care. 

With the rise of legislation or regulations banning or limiting advertising by regulated companies, there is little regulated gambling companies can do to distinguish themselves from black market operators and educate the public. Consequently, the black market takes advantage of this educational vacuum.

If a jurisdiction implements a rule mandating no retention bonuses for licensed sites, how might consumers react? By hitting Google and searching for bonuses to find dozens, and likely hundreds, of criminal black-market options, hiding in plain sight among legal, licensed and compliant operators. None are licensed. None protect their players. None pay any taxes or adjust their business to become and remain compliant. That is the competitive advantage gifted to the black market.

What does this mean for taxation, player protection and operators?

What does tolerating the presence of the black-market mean, in practical terms, across these key areas? 


The tax yield from betting and gaming will be depressed, frustrated and decreasingly predictable. Taxation will only be accrued from those sites who responsibly get in line, comply with conditions, gain licensing, pay taxes and operate according to rules and regulation, all while facing daily unfair competition from black market sites. For every site that gains a licence, there are conservatively two or more who remain offshore and continue to target a market but pay no tax, protect no players and comply with no rules. 

This duality, largely invisible to consumers, is referred to by the term “channelisation”: the percentage of the betting and gaming universe that moves from a pre-regulated market status to a licensed and overseen status once regulation begins. The lower the channelisation percentage, the lower the taxation revenue realised from betting and gaming, and the weaker all consumer protection protocols.

If the black market is not effectively removed, or excluded from discovery, consumers will continue to unknowingly engage with it, in much the same way as they did before regulation. Online, and across the media channels predominantly visited by today’s audiences, the black market exists tangibly and, in some cases, popularly, to the extent they can even drown out the awareness and relevance of licensed sites.

Player Protection

Black market operators that illicitly target regulated markets create issues for individuals and society, primarily among minors and those at risk of gambling-related harm.  

Since that black market is just a Google search away, the much-vaunted goal of player protection has, to date, been but a hope.

All of the provisions of the legislation, the rules from a regulator, and the fines and threats to licensed status, target one end: the protection of at-risk and vulnerable individuals. This will not happen, in any meaningful way, however, if we tolerate the black market and fail to introduce adequate provisions and products to allow regulators to monitor, police and enforce the meaning of licensing. 

Operator Protection

Operators have paid considerable licence fees and substantial taxes, while complying with stringent and costly problem gambling protocols on their path to accrue market share, often accepting short-term losses while hoping for long-term gains.  They need the assurance of a level playing field.  

Yet that is something they do not currently enjoy in comparison to the black market.  To maximise their investments in the regulated marketplace and help maintain a safe, regulated market, it is imperative that the syphoning off of revenue by the black market is decreased and curtailed. 


Without adequate systems to monitor, police and enforce a regulated marketplace, three consequences can be identified:

declining tax revenue for government and good causes, since unlicensed sites steal regulated revenue and thus taxation.a reduction in social responsibility and a hollow meaning to “responsible gaming” making any aim of player protection an unrealisable hope for the future.reduced revenue growth for operators that did comply with the will of lawmakers and the actions of regulators.  This is especially significant now in the US with astronomical costs of acquisition (CPAs) and no sign of sustainable ROI.  It’s unsurprising that many publicly traded gaming businesses have begun to see feedback, negatively, across their share values and market cap due to these imperfect marketplace pressures. 

These are not consequences that should be accepted but with a lack of solutions to date, they are.

Efforts to Combat the Black Market

As was pointed out in the BGC report, produced by PWC, regulators in Sweden, Belgium, Spain, France, Holland, and Denmark are actively seeking to limit the incursion of the black market into their domestic markets. However, some of this has backfired especially in terms of limiting advertising and bonusing (Italy, Norway and Spain) which has only encouraged players to interact with the black market and led to a lack of public education concerning the risks of unlicensed gambling. 

In Asia, the Asian Racing Federation established an Anti-Illegal Betting Taskforce with the stated purpose to “foster and enhance international cooperation among horse racing operators, regulators, intergovernmental organisations and government agencies in order to better combat the threat of illegal betting and other financial crimes to horse racing integrity in particular, and sport in general.” 

The Council’s stated goals are to conduct research to identify links to organised crime, and to expose links to horse racing and sports and thereby define the impact on integrity of these sporting events.

The rapid rise of sports betting in the US has led to some heightened visibility on the issue of the black market, generally focused on sports integrity issues and consumer harm. The American Gaming Association has been active in lobbying for protections, but these seem at the moment focused on the federal level, where little real concrete and effective action has been taken. 

At the state level, the issue is beginning to gain prominence. In Connecticut, the state warned basketball fans about black market operators targeting residents for the Final Four. In a 2020 Forbes article the illegal sports betting market was estimated at anywhere between $50bn and $200bn in bets placed. Citing the American Gaming Association, Eilers & Krejcik Gaming, and H2 Gambling Capital, the Forbes article articulated a position on keeping tax rates low thus allowing legal operators to better compete with the black market.

While these efforts are laudable, and certainly raise the issue in the consciousness of the public, they do not offer a systemic and effective solution that can be implemented by authorities.

One potential tool

An example of an ‘early mover’ in this arena is Atropos Intelligence, a startup founded by industry veteran Ismail Vali, which is developing a technical and advisory platform to address this vulnerability.  Atropos has built a suite of products under the banner of a platform called Yield Sec (short for yield security).

“Player protection and the operation of a sustainable industry, onshore and subject to regulation, are, in our view, simply facets of an optimal customer experience and you cannot effectively or sincerely protect customers without protecting the marketplace first,” said Ismail Vali, founder and CEO of Atropos Intelligence, the owners of the Yield Sec platform. “Yield Sec’s mission is to help all legal betting and gaming marketplace stakeholders realise a fair, safe and protected level playing field for licensed, responsible betting and gaming, in which harm is minimised, the customer experience enhanced, and society safeguarded.”

Yield Sec software scours the internet for all instances of commercial betting, gaming and lottery sites, apps, links, posts, mentions, etc, from within and without the jurisdiction, focused on those clearly targeting the territory. Relevant betting and gaming keywords and phrases are found by the system and analysed, categorised, ranked and indexed. 

Once separated into what comes from legal operators and what comes from illegal entrants, the index is prioritised into the various threats to taxation, licensed revenue and player protection that each offering represents. 

Human intervention, machine learning and AI help rank and order the threats to arrive at a matrix. This presents a detailed view of what content needs to be controlled and remedied at the legal operator level, and what content needs to be cleared and removed from illegal operators. To facilitate removals of illegal content, Yield Sec works alongside regulators and law enforcement across search, social and digital media platforms which supply the “oxygen” of advertising.

By restricting and disabling the availability of illegal operator presence across ads, social media, search engines and sites, it cripples the ability of the illegal operators to acquire new customers and reach and reactivate existing ones. The goal is to make it unprofitable for illegal operators to remain in operation. This startup mission is a work approaching fruition and could hold massive potential for the industry. 

Intolerance & Technology

Society has, to date, tolerated the black market as online betting and gaming has grown as a global presence. Given that the business of betting and gaming is now entering maturity in many territories, it’s past time to address the illegal operator issue with more than the ‘hope and prayer’ that somehow regulation, in and of itself, will frustrate and stymie black market operators.

The regulators who have had to adapt to the rise and prevalence of online gambling have done a great job with the tools they have had. Now, though, it is time to employ the technology that made the growth of the online industry possible, to make it fair, safe and sustainable. 

Swiss Supreme Court rejects complaint against DNS blocking system

The Court gave its approval to the domain name system (DNS) blocking strategy introduced by the Intercantonal Lottery and Betting Commission in 2019 and rejected claims the ban is unconstitutional. The case was brought to the Supreme Court earlier this year after the Intercantonal Gaming Court dismissed the appeal by the three unnamed Malta-based gaming groups whose domains have been blocked in Switzerland since 2019.

The Court found the DNS system, introduced following the passing of the Gambling Act 2018, to be proportionate in restricting access to online gaming offerings that are not authorised in Switzerland. It found the system to wield a sufficiently preventive effect on Swiss nationals accessing unlicensed operators and is more effective than alternatives, such as a list of monitored providers.

The plaintiffs also argued that the ban contravened Swiss law by restricting economic freedom, however again this was rejected. The Court ruled that this argument does not apply in the area of gambling as the legislature has made use of its constitutional power to deviate from the principle of economic freedom by restricting the offering of online money games to operators and games that are licensed and monitored in Switzerland.

“Due to the lack of sufficient and effective supervisory options by the Swiss authorities, foreign competition is not permitted in this area,” the Court ruled.

The three betting groups were not mentioned by the Court. According to Reuters, the Federal Administrative Court last year ruled against Malta-based Interwetten International Ltd, Videoslots Ltd, bet-at-home Entertainment Ltd, and Lopoca Gaming Ltd in suits against the Swiss Federal Gaming Board seeking to circumvent the ban.