Posts Tagged ‘professional sports betting software’

Scopely, Kite & Lightning and Masterclass among week’s LA tech highlights

Scopely, the video game company that has ridden mobile versions of Yahtzee and zombie horror franchise “The Walking Dead” to recent success, announced $55 million in new funding Tuesday.

The financing comes on the back of a sixfold increase in quarterly revenue compared with 18 months ago, Chief Executive Walter Driver said, declining to provide exact figures. His Culver City company has cash from profits, but the big investment means that Scopely can finance more partnerships sooner, he said.

Scopely relies on a network of studios to produce games, and then applies its marketing and operating know-how to attract players and rake in revenue from in-app purchases. The individual firms, which may make just one or two games, generally can’t win over investors as easily as Scopely, which has a wider portfolio.

“We’ll both expand our studio ecosystem and deepen our relationships with studios already in it,” Driver said. “This financing should give us unlimited runway — I don’t think we’ll ever burn through this cash.”

About $25 million of the funds comes from Greycroft Partners. Other investors are Growth Fund, Elephant Partners, Evolution Media Capital, Highland Capital and Sands Capital Ventures. Also putting in money was video game publisher Take-Two Interactive, whose only other venture investment was in streaming app Twitch,  Driver said.

Greycroft’s Mark Terbeek and Scopely President and Chief Operating Officer Javier Ferreira are joining the company’s board of directors. Scopely had raised almost $45 million previously.

“The future of entertainment is interactive, real-time experiences and Scopely is so well-positioned at this transition away from passive entertainment,” Terbeek said.

Half a dozen new games could ship by the end of 2017. Developing a mobile game has become an increasingly lengthy process that can now take around 18 months, Driver said.

With players more picky about apps, games must be sophisticated from Day One to draw their attention. That takes extra time. By comparison, “The Walking Dead: Road to Survival,” released last fall, needed a year of work, Driver said.

“We’re trying to create best-in-class experiences out of the gate that can be five-to-10-year businesses,” he said.

Scopely already thinks that it has a few of those. “Dice With Buddies,” released in 2012, has increased revenue annually. “Walking Dead” has achieved that feat monthly, with $15 million brought in during the first three months. Both “Yahtzee With Buddies” and “Walking Dead” were top-10 revenue producers in the U.S. among new mobile games last year, according to Scopely.

Though based on the comic book version of the popular entertainment franchise, “Walking Dead” still got a lift from the AMC TV series last year. The game continues to do well because hardcore fans want to remain engaged with the story until the show returns in October, Driver said. Those diehard fans were why Scopely had ranked the franchise at the top of its partnership wish list.

One way that Scopely has boosted revenue has been tapping usage data to personalize games for segments of users. Alerts and in-game message appeal differently to highly competitive players than other users.

“Where do people want spend more time, where do they want to spend money, who did they want to play with — those dramatically change” the life span of games, Driver said.

Kite and Lightning

A screenshot from Bebylon Battle Royale, an upcoming virtual reality game in which players control immortal, never-aging babies in fights against their peers.
A screenshot from “Bebylon Battle Royale,” an upcoming virtual reality game in which players control immortal, never-aging babies in fights against their peers. (Kite Lightning)

Ikrima Elhassan and his business partner, Cory Strassburger, spent the last three years producing virtual reality projects for Hollywood. Now they want to make giant animated babies fight.

Their two-man Santa Monica start-up, Kite Lightning, switched directions a year ago. They’d always wanted to make interactive entertainment for virtual reality headsets. But rather than put all their savings into one big project, they collected cash doing basic, marketing-style videos for the likes of NBC, Lionsgate and General Electric.

The seven small virtual reality experiences gave them some good ideas about how camera angles, pacing and other elements should work on the new medium. They’ve spent the last year applying those lessons to the framework of a giant video game, “Bebylon Battle Royale,” that lets players control virtual babies in Colosseum-staged fights.

After picking up $2.5 million from investors this month, Kite Lightning is growing to five people and planning to embark on extending “Bebylon” past a prototype.

Investors include Raine Ventures, Courtside Ventures, Comcast Ventures, Social Capital, Greycroft, Boost VC and Outpost Capital. Raine managing partner Gordon Rubenstein called the idea “the most impressive social gaming experience” his firm has ever seen.

The virtual reality game is meant to be a bit outlandish. “Bebylon” is a community of cursed immortals. They never die but they never age. So their lives are all about becoming the most famous baby around. Narcissism and ego are rewarded. In the middle of a battle? Better take a selfie to gain more followers and ego points. More points means access to fancier stores, like ones that sell gold-plated selfie sticks, Elhassan said.

People who want to duel or explore the realm of Bebylon must pay a to-be-determined price upfront. Others can watch matches from their virtual reality headsets without paying for the game. But viewers will be able buy virtual items such as tomatoes to chuck at weak combatants.

Elhassan is targeting a beta release of the game early next year.

MasterClass

Screenwriter Aaron Sorkin filming a class about how to write unforgettable screenplays. The 35 instructional videos are exclusively on MasterClass beginning Tuesday.
Screenwriter Aaron Sorkin filming a class about how to write “unforgettable screenplays.” The 35 instructional videos are exclusively on MasterClass beginning Tuesday. (MasterClass)

San Francisco start-up MasterClass has added an executive and office in West Hollywood to help persuade more celebrities and experts to become instructors on its service.

MasterClass offers $90 enrollment in online classes taught by superstars of their field, including acting from Dustin Hoffman and tennis from Serena Williams. About 30,000 people signed up in the first few months after a launch last year, but the start-up hasn’t disclosed usage since August.

The expansion, after a $15-million fund raise this year, suggests that many aspiring actors, writers, singers and athletes want in.

Television producer and tech investor Matthew Rutler, now senior vice president of talent and business development, is beginning his new gig with about 120 people he’d like turn into teachers.

The company started with arts and sports because that’s where founders David Rogier and Aaron Rasmussen saw opportunity. But they said the plan is to add subjects quickly, including business.

“My dream business class would be from Warren Buffett or Elon Musk,” Rasmussen said. “Our goal is to teach classes with the best people in the world, so we don’t know what that means for the overall roster yet but we’re excited to find out.”

Rutler, who has invested in MasterClass, Lyft, Pinterest and several others, said being in Los Angeles would make his job simpler because it’s “the center of the world’s best talent.”

Rogier said stars who’ve turned down MasterClass mostly blame busy schedules that would prevent them from filming and editing instructional videos for a couple of weeks or making the ongoing commitment to evaluate student work and answer their questions.

Students go at their own pace, though there’s no guarantee that the teachers will be tuned in to submissions indefinitely. But MasterClass is betting that it’s picking people whose advice will remain a worthwhile purchase for a century at least, Rogier said. A screenwriting class from “West Wing” creator Aaron Sorkin launches Tuesday.

MasterClass attempts to give classes a Hollywood look by bringing in top-shelf equipment and big-name directors — it’s “not just a camera in the back of the classroom,” Rogier said.

The firm also values interactivity, with plans to create more tools like an online vocal range finger in Christina Aguilera’s singing class. The software then personalizes a warm-up track for the student. MasterClass wants to get more offline interactions between students happening too through movie screenings and other events tied to the material.

Elsewhere on the Web

Online video company Machinima has partnered with Chinese online media giant Sohu to get its productions in front of Internet users in China, according to Variety.

News magnate Rupert Murdoch’s daughter Elisabeth has a launched a new media company, Vertical Networks, that’s partially owned by Snapchat and for now exclusively publishes on the popular app under the brand Brother, according to Recode.

Santa Monica job hunting start-up ZipRecruiter expects $140 million in revenue this year, up from $100 million last year, according to USA Today.

Santa Monica start-up Lunaya is selling luxury sleepwear as it tries to extend the popularity of athletic leisure clothing to new areas, according to Forbes.

Rover, the chief rival to dog-sitter-and-walker online marketplace Dog Vacay, hired a chief financial officer who has worked at a public company, according to Bloomberg.

Film studio Warner Bros. could come out with the movie, “Worst Tinder Date Ever,” about a Los Angeles couple who fall in love despite a terrible night out, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

In case you missed it

Dollar Shave Club, one of the darlings of the Los Angeles’ start-up scene, is cashing in on a $1-billion payday — a rise fueled by a disruptive business model and a series of offbeat viral ads.

Champagne, tacos and time off: How Dollar Shave Club employees are celebrating the $1-billion sale.

Dollar Shave Club proved the value of irreverent marketing when Unilever announced that it would acquire the Venice start-up for $1 billion.

A West Hollywood woman sued Uber Technologies, alleging that the ride-hailing company’s negligence led to her being raped by an Uber driver who was convicted in the incident.

The chief executive of meal replacement beverage start-up Soylent has shaken up Montecito Heights with his shipping-container home.

Hyperloop Technologies Inc. is seeking at least $250 million in damages from four former high-ranking employees who the company says tried to incite rebellion within the Los Angeles start-up.

Canopy San Diego is accepting applications for its mentorship program for pot-themed technology start-ups, a first for Southern California, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Coming up

ELeague, the new, 10-week televised tournament for the video game “Counter-Strike: Global Offensive,” comes to an end this weekend. It’s down to four teams vying to make it to Saturday’s finals in Atlanta, which will be aired on TBS. Talent agency WME | IMG is the co-organizer. Though the spectacle hasn’t produced blockbuster ratings, TBS is committing to more e-sports, announcing recently that it would air a championship game for “Overwatch” on Sept. 30.

Tech and media executives whose work spans across Los Angeles and China gather at the Pasadena Convention Center Tuesday and Wednesday for the Silicon Dragon conference, hosted by a media outlet of the same name.

paresh.dave@latimes.com

Twitter: @peard33

Article source: http://www.latimes.com/business/technology/la-fi-tn-la-tech-20160726-snap-htmlstory.html

Playtech Purchases 90 Percent of Best Gaming Technology

Playtech has continued diversifying its business portfolio by acquiring a 90 percent stake in Austria-based Best Gaming Technology for a fee of €138 million.

The deal was announced to the London Stock Exchange, where Playtech is listed, a fortnight ago, and revealed Best Gaming Technology’s Chief Executive and founder Armin Sageder retains the remaining 10 percent of the company, and will remain in his current role for at least three years after the deal is formally completed.

Best Gaming Technology (BGT) provides sports betting software for gaming and sports betting companies, and includes Ladbrokes, Paddy Power Betfair, and William Hill among its long list of clients.

BGT is best known for its proprietary software used in self-service betting terminals (SSBTs), which allows clients to take bets via a digital terminal, revolutionising the more traditional over-the-counter experience, and boasts of being able to generate more than twice the volume of rival SSBT providers.

In 2015, BGT generated revenue of €41.6 million, and pretax profit of €6 million.

Playtech’s Chief Executive, Mor Weizer, said of the deal: “BGT is the leading provider of sports betting software and solutions for gaming and sports betting operators in what is one of the fastest growing verticals of our industry. BGT offers the market’s most sophisticated retail sports solution which is also both modularised and flexible, allowing Playtech to quickly integrate with its own platform. As the only company that will offer FOBTs and SSBTs, all integrated with the world’s leading online platform and products, Playtech will realise the potential of a true omni-channel offering for the benefit of both consumers and operators.”

The acquisition of BGT should help enhance the Playtech ONE omni-channel product, which allows customers access to anytime-anywhere gaming across any product, device, and channel, all while using a single account and wallet.

Playtech has invested heavily in recent years, with purchases such as Aristocrat Lotteries for €10.5 million, the €208 million acquisition of TradeFX, a recruitment drive to create more than 300 jobs, and the launch of a sports betting app for the Apple Watch.

The Israeli company had to pull out of a £460 million deal to purchase contract-for-difference trading business Plus500, and a $105 million purchase of Ava Trade, after regulators opposed the ideal and refused to sanction it.

Playtech own the iPoker Network, the fifth-largest online poker network in the world, home to the likes of bet365, Betfair, Ladbrokes, NetBet, Paddy Power, Titanbet Poker, and William Hill’s online poker operations.

Want to stay atop all the latest in the poker world? If so, make sure to get PokerNews updates on your social media outlets. Follow us on Twitter and find us on both Facebook and Google+!

Article source: http://www.pokernews.com/news/2016/07/playtech-purchases-90-per-cent-of-best-gaming-technology-25414.htm

Playtech Purchases 90 Percent of Best Gaming Technology …

Playtech has continued diversifying its business portfolio by acquiring a 90 percent stake in Austria-based Best Gaming Technology for a fee of €138 million.

The deal was announced to the London Stock Exchange, where Playtech is listed, a fortnight ago, and revealed Best Gaming Technology’s Chief Executive and founder Armin Sageder retains the remaining 10 percent of the company, and will remain in his current role for at least three years after the deal is formally completed.

Best Gaming Technology (BGT) provides sports betting software for gaming and sports betting companies, and includes Ladbrokes, Paddy Power Betfair, and William Hill among its long list of clients.

BGT is best known for its proprietary software used in self-service betting terminals (SSBTs), which allows clients to take bets via a digital terminal, revolutionising the more traditional over-the-counter experience, and boasts of being able to generate more than twice the volume of rival SSBT providers.

In 2015, BGT generated revenue of €41.6 million, and pretax profit of €6 million.

Playtech’s Chief Executive, Mor Weizer, said of the deal: “BGT is the leading provider of sports betting software and solutions for gaming and sports betting operators in what is one of the fastest growing verticals of our industry. BGT offers the market’s most sophisticated retail sports solution which is also both modularised and flexible, allowing Playtech to quickly integrate with its own platform. As the only company that will offer FOBTs and SSBTs, all integrated with the world’s leading online platform and products, Playtech will realise the potential of a true omni-channel offering for the benefit of both consumers and operators.”

The acquisition of BGT should help enhance the Playtech ONE omni-channel product, which allows customers access to anytime-anywhere gaming across any product, device, and channel, all while using a single account and wallet.

Playtech has invested heavily in recent years, with purchases such as Aristocrat Lotteries for €10.5 million, the €208 million acquisition of TradeFX, a recruitment drive to create more than 300 jobs, and the launch of a sports betting app for the Apple Watch.

The Israeli company had to pull out of a £460 million deal to purchase contract-for-difference trading business Plus500, and a $105 million purchase of Ava Trade, after regulators opposed the ideal and refused to sanction it.

Playtech own the iPoker Network, the fifth-largest online poker network in the world, home to the likes of bet365, Betfair, Ladbrokes, NetBet, Paddy Power, Titanbet Poker, and William Hill’s online poker operations.

Want to stay atop all the latest in the poker world? If so, make sure to get PokerNews updates on your social media outlets. Follow us on Twitter and find us on both Facebook and Google+!

Article source: http://www.pokernews.com/news/2016/07/playtech-purchases-90-per-cent-of-best-gaming-technology-25414.htm

William Hill Is The New Target Of 888’s Corporate Ambitions As It Launches A Takeover Bid In Partnership With The …


Over the weekend of July 24 – 25, 888 Holdings and The Rank Group went public with their intention to make an offer for William Hill.

The regulatory announcement said that “they are evaluating a possible offer,” the first step in making a bid under the U.K.’s takeover rules.

The combination of 888 and Rank describes itself as a Consortium, but no details are yet available as to the precise nature of the relationship between the two companies.

The official statement which each put out on their corporate websites, in advance of a regulatory midday deadline on Monday said:

“The Consortium sees significant industrial logic in the combination, through consolidation of their complementary online and land-based operations, delivery of substantial revenue and cost synergies and from the anticipated benefits of economies of scale which will accrue to all shareholders.”

In 2015 William Hill was the bidder for 888

William Hill and 888 have a history when it comes to takeover bids. In February 2015, it was William Hill making the running with a bid for 888 that valued the company at 210p per share, a 30 percent premium on the quoted price at the time.

The bid failed to make headway with 888’s major shareholders, Avi and Aaron Shaked, and Shay and Ron Ben-Yitzhak, who control around 60% of the company through family trusts.

The corporate situation has now reversed itself. 888 is now trading at 230p per share after a 4 percent increase immediately following the announcement.

William Hill’s share price rose over 6 percent on the announcement, but its total market capitalization at £2.9 billion ($3.8 billion) remains more than 12 percent below the £3.3 billion ($4.3 billion) it reached at the time of the offer for 888.

To win the support of William Hill shareholders, 888 and Rank will probably have to get their offer somewhere between £3.7 and £4 billion ($5.25 billion).

There is corporate blood on the streets

There is an old corporate aphorism, that “the time to buy is when there’s blood in the streets.” Figuratively speaking that is the position that William Hill is now in.

Since its bid for 888 its share price has slid relentlessly downwards, with the result that CEO James Henderson “stepped down” from his post last week, with no replacement having been selected.

The corporate ousting is believed to be because of poor online sports betting performance and because William Hill is losing ground against its recently merged rivals, Paddy Power Betfair and Ladbrokes Gala Coral.

On Henderson’s appointment, in July 2014, Chairman Gareth Davis described him as a “natural bookie.” As it tuned out, the company needed more than a natural bookie with 29 years of experience to steer William Hill through the high technology environment of modern gambling.

William Hill doesn’t see the intrinsic value of the merger

William Hill put out its own statement on Sunday pointing out that it does not see the corporate rationale for the takeover.

“The Board of William Hill would listen to and consider any proposal which might be forthcoming from the Consortium. However, it is not clear that a combination of William Hill with 888 and Rank will enhance William Hill’s strategic positioning or deliver superior value to William Hill’s strategy which is focused on increasing the Group’s diversification by growing its digital and international businesses.”

The Rank Group likes brick and mortar

William Hill has thousands of betting shops in the U.K. and employs over 16,000 people globally. It is the largest brick and mortar betting company in the U.K. with around a 25 percent market share.

888 is a pure online company, specializing in online poker, casino and sports betting. It has no experience or real interest in owning the land based gaming business that William Hill has developed since its foundation in 1934.

The partnership with Rank makes complete sense from the perspective of both parties.

Rank operates Grosvenor Casinos (56 casinos), Mecca Bingo (96 bingo clubs) and Rank Interactive (online gaming and betting), however it also operates additional Grosvenor Casinos clubs in Belgium (two casinos), and Top Rank España in Spain (10 bingo clubs).

The eventual corporate outcome seems to be a division of William Hill into the online parts which 888 wants and the land based business which will allow Rank to compete with Ladbrokes and Gala Coral on Britain’s high streets.

Deal reinforces 888’s position as global number two in online poker

William Hill built its online business as a joint venture with Playtech. In March 2013, Will Hill bought out Playtech’s 29 percent stake for £424 million ($556 million), but it remains one of Playtech’s biggest customers.

William Hill online poker uses Playtech’s iPoker platform, but if 888 becomes the new owner, it will undoubtedly move players to its own platform to add liquidity.

888 is the second most popular online poker room in the world behind PokerStars, but even so, its cash game traffic has not been immune to the global decline.

In 888’s case, no blame can be attached to players switching out of cash to play lottery style SNGs—until this month, 888 didn’t offer a competitor to the PokerStars Spin Go.

The addition of the current William Hill player pool will help boost liquidity at 888, and send further trouble the way of iPoker. In June, according to Poker Industry Pro via PokerScout data, iPoker’s dot-com cash game traffic dropped below an average of 1,000 occupied seats for the first time since 2006. It can ill afford to lose one of its major customers.

William Hill’s relationship with Playtech extends beyond online poker, but notably, today’s news did not affect Playtech’s share price, even though a completed deal would hit their revenues to a noticeable extent.

William Hill’s U.S. Assets?

One aspect of the deal which doesn’t fit too neatly into the split between 888 and Rank may be William Hill’s sports betting business in Nevada.

William Hill operates sports books for several land based casinos in Nevada. In 2011 it bought Lucky’s, Leroy’s, and the satellite operations of Club Cal Neva, for a total of $53 million. All were rebranded to William Hill, and gave the company a market share of more than 50 percent.

888 has a substantial U.S. business providing the online poker software for the Delaware racinos, and for WSOP.com in New Jersey and Nevada. It also operates under its own brand in New Jersey, but despite announcing its intentions to do so, has held off entering the Nevada online poker market.

Rank has nothing in the U.S. at all, so who will takeover the non-online U.S. business if the deal goes through? Perhaps they will be put up for sale after the deal completes.

If 888 wants to buy William Hill, who is talking to Amaya?

One of the most interesting deductions to be made from 888’s announcement is that it is almost certainly not considering a simultaneous bid for Amaya.

Amaya’s board has said that it is talking to several parties regarding a bid, and 888 was seen as a natural bidder for the parent of PokerStars and Full Tilt. Now that that possibility is off the table, only Playtech remains as a possibility from the ranks of the top online poker operators.

If former CEO David Baazov fails to make a bid, then PokerStars’ new owner may well be a company with no, or little previous presence in online poker.

Bet365 is probably the only serious online poker operator left that could muster the financial fire power for a bid to buy Amaya, and it has shown no real interest in either acquiring or being acquired by another company.

Can 888 see the deal through?

Last year, 888 lost the deal to buy bwin.party after GVC outbid it for the company. Taken together with the refusal to accept William Hill’s offer in February 2015, analysts may consider that 888 has a high opinion of its own value, but is extremely reluctant to pay a high premium for anything it wants to purchase.

The family ownership of a majority of 888’s shares also means that there is a large voting block which can veto any transaction.

When such a large proportion of shares is owned by a small family group of investors, there is always the possibility of irrational decision making—price isn’t everything when it comes to a family business.

Rank would not have agreed to form part of a consortium with 888 if it had not been reassured that it was committed to doing the deal. Nevertheless, if William Hill shareholders hold out for a high price, 888 may well reconsider its position.

William Hill pointedly quoted the U.K. Takeover Panel’s “put up or shut up” rule in its statement regarding the potential bid.

“In accordance with Rule 2.6(a) of the Code, the Consortium is required, by not later than 5.00 p.m. on 21 August 2016 to either announce a firm intention to make an offer for William Hill in accordance with Rule 2.7 of the Code or announce that it does not intend to make an offer….”

For 888 and Rank, the regulatory clock is now ticking.

Article source: http://www.onlinepokerreport.com/21692/888-rank-group-takeover-bid-william-hill/

A growth industry you can bet on

Sports betting is one of the fastest growing sectors of the gaming industry.

Accurate global statistics are difficult to obtain, mainly because the vast majority of the betting is through non-licensed organisations, but a 2015 United Nations conference was told that annual worldwide sports betting turnover is at least US$1000 billion (NZ$1430 billion). This figure could be as high as US$4000b (NZ$5710 billion).

By comparison, New Zealand’s annual Gross Domestic Product is only $249 billion or US$174 billion.

The massive increase in sports betting has created huge opportunities, as well as problems, for sporting bodies. Sporting organisations are becoming more reliant on betting-related income and sponsorship, but this is creating massive integrity and match-fixing problems. Soccer, cricket, tennis, rugby league and many other sports have been affected by match-fixing.

The investment industry is also taking advantage of this sports betting craze and a number of sports betting funds have been launched, particularly since the state of Nevada relaxed some of its sports betting regulations.

These funds are reporting impressive returns.

Sports betting has grown dramatically in recent years because of technological advances, widespread live television coverage and the availability of more and more individual game statistics.

Individuals can bet on their smartphones, and the plethora of statistics allows them to bet on individual aspects of a game as well as the final score.

For example, gamblers can bet on the score spread, the first scorer, the highest scorer, the individual who covers the most metres during a game as well as many more features of a sporting event.

Overseas reports indicate that a number of online, unlicensed betting agencies give individuals the ability to bet on every single move in a game.

Peter Jay, a British independent betting expert, estimates that Soccer attracts 65 per cent of total global sports betting, with cricket and tennis attracting 12 per cent each.

Soccer is attracting more and more betting interest. For example, seven of the 20 English Premier League teams had sports betting companies as their principal shirt sponsors last season. These were Bournemouth, Crystal Palace, Sunderland, Stoke City, Watford, West Bromwich Albion and West Ham United.

The next largest shirt sponsors were from the banking/finance/insurance sector, with five, followed by airlines and manufacturing, with two each. Beverage/brewing, duty free, electronics and the software sectors had one principal shirt sponsorship each.

King Power, Thailand’s leading duty free operator, hit the jackpot when Leicester City was the surprise winner of the Premier League.

Betting organisations argue that their sponsorship money has a positive impact on sports but it also creates huge potential match-fixing problems. Young, impressionable athletes are vulnerable to unscrupulous bookies, particularly if they are in debt to those bookies.

There have been a number of major soccer match-fixing scandals including:

• In June 2014, two Asian businessmen were jailed for five years in the UK, and a player for 16 months, for attempting to fix lower league games

• Thirteen payer were banned in July 2013 for widespread manipulation of Turkish football games

• A large number of prominent Italian footballers were arrested in relation to match-fixing in 2011 and 2012

• In 2013 a number of club officials, referees and players were given criminal convictions in Greece for widespread match-fixing.

Continued below.

Related Content

Soccer is not the only sport to be tarnished by betting.

The others include T20 cricket in Bangladesh, Russian tennis, Danish ice hockey, snooker, Pakistani cricket and Australian rugby league.

Unlicensed sports betting is the dominant form of betting in Asia, particularly India and China. By comparison, it is estimated that regulated Nevada betting accounts for nearly 90 per cent of total US sports betting.

In New Zealand, regulated sports betting is mainly through the TAB.

The TAB’s sports betting has soared from $206 million, or 13 per cent of total betting, in the July 2010 year to $405m, or 20 per cent of betting activity, in the July 2015 year. Racing betting has fallen from 87 per cent to 80 per cent of TAB betting over the same period. This is consistent with global trends.

TAB sports betting revenue of $405m for the July 2015 year comprised the following: basketball $81m; soccer $69m; rugby $57m; cricket $53m; league $49m; tennis $44m; and other sports $52 million.

Sports betting increased 53.3 per cent in the first half of the July 2016 year because of the Rugby World Cup and a massive increase in in-play sports betting. The latter is betting on aspects of a game rather than the overall result.

The New Zealand Government, which is concerned about the level of unregulated offshore sports betting, established a Working Group last year to look at offshore racing sports betting.

The Working Group, which released its final report last October, said offshore betting “is a rapidly growing problem”. It stated: “In 2010 there were around 23,000 New Zealanders betting offshore. Today, an estimated 40,000 people bet offshore. The problem will continue to grow. New Zealanders betting offshore resulted in turnover totalling $285 million a year in 2010. Today, betting turnover by New Zealanders with offshore gambling operators is estimated to be $518 million a year.”

There are two main problems with offshore betting.

First, sports codes receive less income from betting organisations when New Zealanders bet offshore through unlicensed agencies. In addition, it is much more difficult to catch match-fixers if they bet through unlicensed offshore organisations because these organisations are reluctant to release betting information to NZ police.

This is a problem faced by Australian authorities in their current investigation into alleged match-fixing by the Manly rugby league team. There are no signs of irregular betting patterns on Manly games through licensed Australian operators, but there may have been big bets placed on the suspect matches through offshore unlicensed betting organisations. It is extremely difficult to trace these offshore bets.

Meanwhile, the investment sector has taken advantage of the sports betting craze.

The Cloney Multi-Sport Fund, which was established in Australia in January 2010, bets on Australian horse racing, European soccer, cricket, tennis and golf. The fund, which has a minimum investment of A$500,000, had a 200.6 per cent return between January 1, 2010 and March 31, 2016 compared with a 7.6 per cent return by the ASX 200 Index over the same period.

Recent changes to Nevada’s gaming laws will encourage more sports betting funds because out-of-state residents are now allowed to access Nevada’s sports betting facilities through these funds for the first time.

Las Vegas based Contrarian Investments LLC, which established a sports betting fund in March, mainly bets on NBA basketball and has reported a year to date return of 19.5 per cent.

The Nevada Sports Investment Group, LP, which is also based in Las Vegas, established a sports betting fund in March that has achieved an annualised return of 89.6 per cent in its first three and a half months. The minimum investment is US$25,000 and investors will receive a 70 per cent share of the gross profits generated by investment activities. The fund bets mainly on baseball and basketball.

The huge increase in sports betting, and the strong performance of sports betting funds, will encourage more and more betting. This is a positive development for betting organisations, and for sports betting funds, but it increases the potential for match-fixing.

The increasing popularity of unlicensed offshore betting options also reduces the potential payouts to New Zealand sporting organisations.

Brian Gaynor is an executive director of Milford Asset Management.

Article source: http://m.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=11679515

CG Technology agrees to pay $1.5 million fine and pay bettors who were shorted – Las Vegas Review

CG Technology, a sports book manager at seven Las Vegas casinos, would be fined $1.5 million and required to establish an escrow account to pay bettors who were shorted in the calculation of player winnings under a stipulation agreed to Wednesday by the state Gaming Control Board and the company.

In addition, CG Technology President and CEO Lee Amaitis is being forced to resign, effective Aug. 31, under terms of the settlement.

The settlement must be approved by the five-member Nevada Gaming Commission, which is expected to take up the matter at its July 28 meeting.

CG Technology, formerly known as Cantor Sports Book, was accused in a Control Board complaint in May of underpaying bettors by more than $700,000 on an estimated 20,000 wagers.

CG admitted the company’s software miscalculated payouts, and that they failed to notify patrons and the board of the miscalculations in a timely manner, but they denied not cooperating in the Control Board’s investigation, admitting there was sufficient evidence to warrant a settlement.

“Public confidence and trust can only be maintained by strict gaming regulation,” Control Board Chairman A.G. Burnett said in a statement. “The board will not tolerate improper or incorrect payments to patrons by gaming licensees, and therefore takes this matter extremely seriously. This settlement contains several harsh punishments and requirements for remediation that reflect those concerns.”

CG Technology also overpaid about 11,000 bets a total of $100,000 because of a computer software glitch that the company didn’t fix for years. The company never notified gamblers of the problem in paying out some parlays.

CG Technology manages race and sports books at the M Resort, the Hard Rock Hotel, Tropicana, The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, The Venetian, the Palms and the Silverton. The casinos lease space to CG Technology and have management agreements to split profits but are not subject to disciplinary action.

ESCROW ACCOUNT ADVISED

The stipulation that will be considered by the Gaming Commission orders that CG establish a $25,000 escrow account to pay claims of individuals who can establish that, between August 2011 and March 2015, they were underpaid by the company on a winning single or round-robin parlay wager and who have not already been paid.

CG will be required to notify potential winners with seven consecutive days of newspaper advertising twice in the next year. The claims period will last a year from the commission’s approval and any remaining money in the escrow account would be donated to the Nevada Council on Problem Gambling.

The stipulation also orders that CG hire an independent third party to evaluate the company’s wagering software for a year with written reports from the consultant after two weeks, six months and a year.

The order doesn’t prevent individual bettors from filing civil lawsuits against the company.

Amaitis, 66, has been a driving force for CG, a subsidiary of the Cantor Fitzgerald investment company that developed sports wagering software similar to what stock brokers use for electronic trading. Amaitis is credited with rebuilding Cantor Fitzgerald, which had offices in the World Trade Center when terrorists attacked Sept. 11, 2001, killing 658 Cantor employees.

The state stipulation requires that Amaitis’ successor submit a licensing application within 30 days of the commission ruling.

A spokeswoman for CG had no comment on the naming of a potential successor. The company is terming Amaitis’ departure as a retirement.

The Control Board’s action was the second time the state has sought to discipline the company over failures within its Cantor Sports Book computerized bookmaking system. Two years ago, the Nevada Gaming Commission warned CG Technology that any future complaints could prompt a license revocation.

REPORTS OF REPEATED UNDERPAYMENTS

The Control Board’s six-count complaint said an enforcement division agent responded to a concern at the Silverton in March 2015 from a gambler who said he was underpaid on a winning round-robin parlay wager. The player told the agent he was correctly paid after pointing out the error but that it was the fifth time he had been underpaid on that type of bet.

The board’s investigation found recurring incorrect payments on various winning parlay wagers and that companywide errors occurred for several years because of software issues known by the company.

The company began operating a computerized bookmaking system known as Cantor Sports Book for its mobile sports wagering in August 2011, the complaint said, and the company miscalculated winning parlay bets for several years.

In April 2014 the company expanded the system beyond mobile gaming and began using the software for counter wagers, but gamblers continued to be incorrectly paid. CG Technology only paid the correct amount to gamblers who brought the error to the company’s attention and made no effort to contact bettors about the miscalculated winnings, the complaint said.

The complaint said CG Technology “effectively ignored a group of several thousand patrons who had won their parlay wagers but who had underpaid their winnings and left responsibility to those patrons to bring an underpayment to the attention of (the company).” The complaint said the company took steps to identify all parlay wagers and patrons affected by the software issue only after the board investigation started. The board issued an industrywide notice in February 2010 about the software issue.

The Review-Journal is owned by the family of Sheldon Adelson, chairman and CEO of Las Vegas Sands Corp., which operates The Venetian.

Contact Richard N. Velotta at rvelotta@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Find him on Twitter: @RickVelotta

Article source: http://www.reviewjournal.com/business/casinos-gaming/cg-technology-agrees-pay-15-million-fine-and-pay-bettors-who-were-shorted

Irish-based Onionsack signs €2m deal with PMU France

Irish software company Onionsack, which provides SMS text betting to bookmakers, has signed a €2 million deal with gaming and betting operator PMU France.

The three-year deal will enable PMU France to provide sports betting via messaging channels to their customers.

PMU deputy chief executive Alain Resplandy-Bernard said the focus of the tender process was not about selecting the largest provider but the right one.

“Onionsack are niche specialists in technology messaging in the global sports betting industry.”

Jonathan Power, founder and chief executive of Waterford-based Onionsack, said the partnership deal with PMU represented “a major breakthrough” outside Onionsack’s home markets of the UK and Ireland.

The company currently provides services to PaddyPower, William Hill, Ladbrokes, Betfred and Totepool.

He said Onionsack’s platform allowed customers transact in their natural language using SMS or Instant Messaging, which is free, and then have it understood and executed with their preferred sporting brand.

“Onionsack is now working on extending the platform to include Facebook Messenger and Twitter, which will open up huge marketing opportunities for sports brands,” said Mr Power.

Article source: http://www.irishtimes.com/business/retail-and-services/irish-based-onionsack-signs-2m-deal-with-pmu-france-1.2729802

After Valve clamps down on skin betting, industry experts disagree on the industry’s future

On July 13, Valve issued a notice about its in-game trading system that looked like the end of skin betting. Then, two days ago, Valve sent a cease-and-desist letter that seemed to spell certain doom for the major skin-betting sites. So why are they still around—and what will happen to them?

The skin-betting industry, which facilitates online gambling using in-game CS:GO decorations as currency, reportedly took from $2 billion to $7.4 billion in bets annually. Skin betting furthered interest in CS:GO by raising the value of skins and promoting wagers on premier matches, but it also occupied a legal gray area for a number of reasons, including the possibilities of underage gambling, online gambling in jurisdictions that disallowed it, money laundering, match fixing, and outright scamming.

The “multiple lawsuits“ seeking class-action damages and the bad publicity following a prominent betting scandal may have convinced Valve the indirect benefits were not worth the legal risk, prompting it to release the first announcement, the “In-Game Item Trading Update.” The announcement was a clear signal that skin betting was over—except that all of the major sites continued to operate, including CSGO Diamonds, at the center of the betting scandal less than a month earlier.

This may have prompted Valve to issue the cease-and-desist order, which reads, in part: “You should immediately cease and desist further use of your Steam accounts for any commercial purpose. If you fail to do this within ten (10) days Valve will pursue all available remedies including without limitation terminating your accounts.” The order names 23 of the largest skin-betting sites, the majority of which, as of Wednesday afternoon, have yet to even acknowledge the order, much less cease operations.

Fourteen of the sites continue to operate. Six posted announcements that ranged from defiant to capitulatory. “Our site is still working!” claimed one. “You can withdraw and deposit items. It may take some time.” Another, CSGOCrash said it was “NOT planning to cease operations, and will do whatever it takes to comply with Valve’s Terms of Service.” CSGOPot, for its part, said news of the cease and desist letter was “all fake” and that it “didn’t receive any e-mail from Valve!”

Three of the named sites are suspending operations or closing: csgodouble.com, csgocasino.net, and societylogin.com.

The sites named by Valve represent far less than the entire skin-betting industry: “I found 50 sites in 10 minutes of Googling last week,” wrote gambling-industry analyst and U.K. expert Luke Cotton. “I’m surprised that more aren’t listed,” he said, singling out one called skinarena.com. The fate of these sites, as well as the industry at large, remains uncertain.

Three different esports-betting experts—Cotton, Bryce Blum, general counsel to Unikrn, and Chris Grove, industry analyst—had three different interpretations of Valve’s announcements, and three different outlooks on the future of skin betting. (Valve did not respond to a request for comment.)

Paragraph one of Valve’s announcement reads “In 2011, we added a feature to Steam that enabled users to trade in-game items as a way to make it easier for people to get the items they wanted in games featuring in-game economies.” Is that all they had in mind? Aside from skin betting, has it been successful?

Bryce Blum: If you set aside the growth of unlicensed, unregulated skin gambling, the steam marketplace is a huge success and net benefit for players. People love skins and one of the best things about skins is that their relative value decreases over time. Having the ability to trade or sell a skin to another user who hasn’t owned it before creates the potential for a win-win.

Luke Cotton: I don’t think they could have foreseen at that point that the Open API (which was pretty popular back then in general, from recollection) could be used for gambling due to the creation of bot accounts to act as automatic intermediaries between users.

In paragraph two, Valve denies any direct involvement with the skins trade, ending with the claim “Steam does not have a system for turning in-game items into real-world currency.” Thoughts?

LC: I take issue with that statement. If I get a CS:GO skin, sell it on the marketplace, and buy Prison Architect, you can be pretty sure the developer of Prison Architect isn’t being paid in CS:GO skins. I think it’s worded badly, but I don’t believe Steam has taken any payment from a skin-gambling site. To claim that they don’t have a business relationship with those sites depends on your interpretation of such a relationship—e.g. this Steam Community forum thread [where Valve announces item trades will require a captcha, excepting “a few of the existing third-party trading services”] indicates that they have given special treatment to some such sites.

BB: In some sense, it’s true. Third-party users operate the skin-betting sites, and the sites that let you “cash out” [including OPSkins, which has not responded to the announcements]. In a legal sense, buying software through Steam isn’t the same as getting a payout.

In paragraph four, Valve alleges that skin-betting sites have violated Steam’s terms of use. Was “running a gambling business” really not allowed by the API or end-user agreement? And when is Valve going to begin telling sites to shut down? (For example, CSGO Lounge is still up.)

LC: I haven’t read the end-user / API agreements, but I’d expect it says you can’t use the service for commercial gain. I am surprised that they have not just revoked their access though, but I expect that may just be a matter of time. It’s not like cease-and-desist orders are their only options—they can just kill their API keys and close the bots’ Steam accounts.

BB: If you parse Valve’s language carefully, it suggests that the issue isn’t the running of a gambling business, but the fact that gambling sites “create automated Steam accounts that make the same web calls as individual Steam users.” Gambling isn’t mentioned in the API Terms of Use or the Steam Subscriber Agreement. I think Valve left room for skin betting sites to continue to operate so long as they comply with the terms of the API and other user agreements.

Are sites like OPSkins [which liquidates skins, but does not offer bets] at all legally problematic?

LC: I don’t know. Legally, depends if the FBI argue they’re a payment processor for online gambling under UIGEA, but I think that’s unlikely—especially if the gambling stops.

Chris Grove: I don’t see a way OPSkins is legally problematic on face. Valve may ultimately have a problem with them.

What’s going to happen to the skins market, long-term and short-term? What’s going to happen to the existing skin-betting sites’ assets?

LC: We are already seeing a decline in skin prices. It hasn’t crashed yet but it has declined around 5 percent to my eye. The decline is likely to continue, and I expect “Black Friday“ [the day U.S. customers lost access to online poker] will come on the day at which CSGO Lounge is shut down and we will then see fire sales. That’s the point at which skins become solely cosmetic. The sites are rumoured to have made an awful lot of money and have a lot of it stockpiled in skins. I would say the gambling sites plus OPSkins have a few million dollars in skins held back at least. These are obviously now worth less and these sites are likely to want to get rid of their stock ASAP, when previously they did not want to flood the market, which will impact on skin prices.

BB: It may be a little depressed, but not eliminated. Anyone who’s sitting here today who thinks the turnover is going to go from $7.4 billion per year to $0 is naive. Just look at sports betting in the U.S.: it’s illegal, but it still clears millions of dollars all the time.

What’s going to happen to general player and spectator interest in CS:GO?

LC: Interest in low-mid tier CS:GO matches is likely to decrease. However I don’t see it having much of a negative effect on the premier events. It could spark more interest from regulated bookmakers.

BB: It’s reasonable to expect a dip in viewership. How big of one is hard to say. It ultimately depends on Valve’s enforcement.

Q: Is there much of a chance Valve would choose to revive this kind of market in a legal way? What will happen to the first class-action lawsuit?

LC: Given the lawsuits, I think it’s very unlikely Valve try to do any form of wagering themselves. As the lawsuits seek damages, I don’t think they go away even if the sites are shut down.

BB: It definitely won’t go away, since it sues for past damages and changing future behavior. The future behavior has changed, but all the past damages could exist or not exist.

According to Bryce’s article on ESPN, “Gambling sites such as Bets.gg have stated that they will continue to operate [even after the cease-and-desist], and intend to ‘implement changes to comply with the ToS update from Valve.’” Is this at all possible?

LC: My view is it’s not possible and I’m really surprised that Bryce has a view that it could be possible. I assume he’s of the view that skins will not legally be seen as money and thus it’s just a question of complying with Valve’s terms and conditions, as skin wagering is seen as lawful. But then we have precedent that the U.K. Gambling Commission does see skin betting as being the same as money—and in the U.K. I do not see how it can be lawful, given anti-money-laundering requirements: it’s impossible to prove source of funds matches the person wagering them. In the US, it cannot be legal if skins are money, because online gambling is illegal.

CG: Yes, it is possible. It seems like if you aren’t using bots or the API to validate customer identity or ownership, that the Valve statement doesn’t touch your business. Of course, that’s today.

BB: You could envision a world where you could run a betting site without the use of bots, maybe with personal Steam accounts. It could be commercially viable, though it would depend on personal capacity to handle the transactions manually. They’re not trying to shut down the sites based on a legal rationale, but instead for violating the API, terms of use, and Steam subscriber agreement—and this is a huge distinction. The cease-and-desist raises the question of how we’re going to define commercial use, and if the issue is that the sites use bots and automated steam accounts? If there has been scrutiny from law enforcement, then Valve might be thinking about if it’s illegal or not, but that’s tricky territory. Right now, they’re not shutting down the sites because they’re gambling sites.

Blum further claims that “There is also the potential that Valve’s stance could be overboard, eliminating all skin-based betting, not simply the sites that operate illegally.” Don’t they all?

LC: Yes. I’m very surprised at that statement.

CG: Not necessarily. For example, skill games are legal in a number of U.S. states. So a kind of gambling that’s already legal (e.g., two players paying a fee and competing in a head-to-head gaming match where the winner takes the pot) doesn’t become illegal by the very presence of skins (at least not in a way that’s obvious to me).

BB: Not necessarily. A lot has been made of this betting-versus-gambling distinction [between esports-betting sites like CSGO Lounge and pure-gambling sites like CSGO Lotto], since there are different regulatory regimes between roulette and sports betting. But it’s not like U.S. law views sports betting as a game of skill, even though, in fact, it is—there’s skill involved in poker, and look how that’s regulated. For something to be legally defined as “gambling” in the U.S., there must be risk, randomness, and a “thing of value” won—and “thing of value” has a pretty narrow definition, cash or chips. The law hasn’t evolved to encompass “skins.” It’s hard to argue that they’re not “things of value”—they’re fungible, and when the sites say you win, they don’t say you won such-and-such skin, they report a dollar amount. Skins could be exempt, but the law could evolve differently.

What would legal skin-betting look like?

LC: I don’t see what legal skin betting can be, unless it’s operated by Valve themselves.

CG: Tough question. An easy answer is that it would look just like regulated online gambling.  

BB: You’d have to treat it responsibly—like it’s real money. This would include at the very least account verification, geo-blocking jurisdictions where it’s illegal, anti-money-laundering protocols, and flagging suspect betting activity. There’s so much that goes into it. It’s unlikely that Valve will do it themselves. They’re focused on their core business, and issue statements like these only when they absolutely have to. I don’t know how much force the letter has, since the sites operate in different jurisdictions, and most jurisdictions aren’t policing the sites, yet. But Valve does grant API access to all the sites, and they can just stop them that way.

What’s next?

LC: I didn’t really see another realistic resolution that didn’t have the FBI involved so I think this is the best possible resolution, as, if all the sites are shut, there will be very little incentive for any regulator to act against them. I think that Valve is just giving a warning to their users to get rid of their skins before they shut the sites down and the market collapses.

CG: The next chapter of the story will be dominated by questions around enforcement. How far is Valve willing to go, and how proactive are they willing to be? With significant amounts of revenue under threat, are all skin betting sites going to simply comply, or will they seek ways to circumvent the limitations Valve puts in place? If the skin gambling industry is dedicated to finding a way around restrictions, and Valve is dedicated to maintaining an open API, will Valve be relegated to a position of playing perpetual catch-up?

As for the sites, it’s unclear if they’re dragging their feet to maximize profit in the limited time they expect to be online, are simply waiting for Valve to escalate further, or if the sites intend to attempt to openly ignore Valve’s request. If it’s the latter, it will be interesting to see how the sites evolve to adapt to the new reality, and how Valve handles sites that prove to be deeply uncooperative. If Valve is fully committed to eradicating skin betting sites, it will be incredibly difficult for any site to operate as openly and at the sort of scale that a CSGO Lounge operates at today. As long as a trading function exists, there will likely be some universe of skin-based gambling sites, but it is almost certain to be a smaller, secretive, underground affair if such operators hope to stay one step ahead of Valve.

BB: There is sufficient ambiguity in Valve’s [first] statement that it’s impossible to predict how it will act with any level of certainty. Will Valve enforce the API restrictions against all third parties, or just gambling sites? Will Valve actively monitor the situation and eliminate new sites as they arise, or will it take a more passive approach? Will only certain types of gambling be targeted? We’ll learn a lot more about the status of skin betting from Valve’s actions moving forward.

CML, a writer in Seattle, has written for Gawker, the Seattle Weekly, and several other publications. He maintains a website at cmlwrites.com and a Twitter at @CMLisawesome. His book on Magic: the Gathering, an important precursor to esports, is out in July.

Article source: http://www.dailydot.com/esports/csgo-skin-gambling-valve-cease-and-desist-experts/

Millions Impacted By Worldpay Outage

Some online gamblers and eCommerce website operators are up in arms after being blocked from receiving daily payments because of an outage at Worldpay, the United Kingdom payment processor. Worldpay’s customers include British Airways.

According to a report, the outage has been going on for three weeks, angering some companies who have been contending with upset customers. The outage could harm its reputation as the newly public company aims to grow. The disruption is impacting online gambling with Stan James, the online sports betting site turning to Twitter to apologize for the inconvenience caused by Worldpay having “withdrawal delays.” The outage at Worldpay is also impacting Etsy in the U.S., according to the report who has seen its stock price plummet more than 3.5 percent over the last two weeks.

Worldpay blamed the outage on an isolated issue with one of its gateways, saying it’s only impacting a small amount of its customers — about 1 percent — and a tiny amount of the transactions the company processes every day. Little consolation, however, to those who remain effected now three weeks later.

The problem is reportedly stems from an overload of error messages on one of its servers that processes payments. It was caused by new software and system changes that were introduced into the network. Worldpay has reported the outage to the Financial Conduct Authority and said it is working to fix it as soon as possible. The National Lottery is working with Worldpay and said on Twitter it expects the issue to be resolved soon.

In March, Worldpay said that after its initial public offering last year its underlying transaction growth came in at 14 percent to more than 13 billion. What’s more, earnings in the roughly five months since its IPO increased 8 percent to slightly higher than $578 million.  Worldpay was spun out of Royal Bank of Scotland in 2010 and then was subsequently bought (for £2 billion) by private equity investors Advent International and Bain Capital, which are still Worldpay’s biggest shareholders.



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Article source: http://www.pymnts.com/news/payment-methods/2016/worldpay-payments-outage/

Concessions on Ride Guide unlikely to sway race stewards

Enabling Cookies in Internet Explorer 9

  1. Open the Internet Browser
  2. Click Tools (or “gear” icon at top right hand corner) Internet Options Privacy Advanced
  3. Check Override automatic cookie handling
  4. For First-party Cookies and Third-party Cookies click Accept
  5. Click OK and OK

Enabling Cookies in Internet Explorer 10, 11

  1. Open the Internet Browser
  2. Click the Tools button, and then click Internet Options.
  3. Click the Privacy tab, and then, under Settings, move the slider to the bottom to allow all cookies, and then click OK.
  4. Click OK

Article source: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/sport/opinion/patrick-smith/concessions-on-ride-guide-unlikely-to-sway-race-stewards/news-story/1fe9de15dd59cc1dd681d93a569fbe74