Online Gambling Industry News Round-Up

Published on the 2021-03-16

The first quarter of 2021 has witnessed a considerable amount of activity in the world of online gambling following a number of events following on to what was a busy end of 2020 in the industry. Right now, for both players and operators alike it is a good time for online gambling, and the demand has increased significantly, only exacerbated by the current global COVID-19 pandemic which has resulted in a substantial upturn of movement.

This can be attributed to a number of markets and not just in the UK, in fact, other markets, it could be argued have started to overtake the UK, due to more legislation being passed and an increase in the possibilities that are now available to players around the world. Let’s take a look at some of the headlines that have been dominating the news and what this might mean for the industry as a whole as the next few months progress.

Record opening weekend in Michigan for BetRivers

Following new legislation being passed in the US state of Michigan, this has led to a number of brands being approved to operate in the state in a relatively short space of time. One of these is the US sports betting brand of BetRivers (whose parent company is Rush Street Interactive) which already has a very successful track record in New Jersey, though their first opening weekend in January surpassed all expectations.

The strong start to the brand in the state was chiefly because of the NFC Championship game, which saw thousands of gamblers making bets and taking advantage of the generous welcome bonus that was on offer from their site. In addition to this, basketball also had a strong performance on the site with NBA teams, the Pistons and Phoenix Suns being the teams that were wagered on the most.
It wasn’t just sports that had a strong performance on the site, however, with table games being responsible for 39 percent of the total revenue across all casino products, with the site offering players well over 120 different games to play. The future for Bet Rivers in Michigan looks bright after such as strong start and an obvious demand.

Bet MGM secures Online partnership

Staying in the US, there was a significant coup for NASCAR team Richard Childress Racing having inked a deal with the US market leader in sports betting and online casino; Bet MGM. This will see the operator link up with the NASCAR team on a number of innovative marketing and brand awareness initiatives designed to provide them with more exposure, leading to further revenue opportunities while unlocking the NASCAR market for Bet MGM.

"BetMGM is at the forefront of the sports betting and online gaming industry and Richard Childress Racing can certainly relate to their pioneering vision," said Richard Childress, chairman and CEO of Richard Childress Racing, in the aftermath of the deal. 

"This innovative relationship will provide opportunities to collaborate in new and groundbreaking ways."

Similar sentiments were voiced by Matt Prevost, the Chief Revenue Officer of Bet MGM: "Richard Childress Racing is one of the most respected and formidable teams in motorsports. Together we will develop compelling marketing opportunities and activations that introduce the BetMGM sports betting brand to NASCAR fans worldwide."

Online Gambling Bill to be introduced in Chile

With online gambling beginning to cautiously open up in South America, Chile have become the latest nation to declare an interest in regulating online gambling in the country for their players.

The Ministry of Finance in Chile have been working on plans for a while and began laying the foundations for this halfway through 2020, with this now being fast-tracked in the hope that it can be introduced before the end of the first quarter for 2021. The hope of the Ministry of Finance is that they can further increase revenue via taxable income from the online gambling companies and as a result of this, be able to further monitor the activity of these a lot more closely.

In 2019, the government in Chile reported land-based casino revenue of $670 million and as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, this has led to a considerable decrease in the coffers. It is one of the reasons why this bill has been expedited in recent months, with the government keen to make up the shortfall.

“Casinos are relevant for the economic development of the country both in their contribution to the financing of the municipalities and regional governments through the payment of taxes and in the development of tourism in the regions,” said the Ministry of Finance.

“However, both the pandemic and new global trends in the industry require new standards that ensure further development of the sector and higher tax collection through competitive tenders.”

New Restrictions anticipated in the UK Market

Following a series of changes to the UK online gambling industry over the last 12 months, it is being reported that more are set to follow as the UKGC (United Kingdom Gambling Commission), aims to make online gambling even safer for players at casino sites.

What is being proposed is that gambling sites (and by extension, software providers), introduce a limit on spin speeds in addition to a permanent ban on features that are designed to increase the rate of play or invoke euphoria or disappointment for wins or losses respectively. Such current tactics that some slots use for example include high energy music and vibrant graphics when players win something to tempt them into reinvesting their winnings.

The proposal has also called for online gambling operators to clearly display a player’s winnings and losses during the course of playing a slot so that they can better make an informed decision about whether they want to carry on playing. 

The UK Gambling Commission has been particularly vocal about this saying: "Evidence shows that reverse withdrawal functions present a risk to players because of the temptation to continue gambling," 
"In addition, the slot features being removed or more closely controlled have been associated with increased intensity of play, loss of player control or binge play."

Netherlands looking to add further legislation

It has been reported that the Dutch government is aiming to crackdown considerably on gambling operators in the country that use sports teams in their advertising campaigns in a bid to try and reduce the number of people who associate sports and betting and then are therefore tempted to start wagering.

Despite this, this sponsorship of sports teams will still be allowed, though this is something that has been met with criticism in the UK market, with figures in the UKGC arguing that this does not help matters in relation to Responsible Gambling. Also, under the proposed new ruling in the Netherlands, the government has stipulated that operators will not be allowed to offer bets to players for teams in lower divisions where the odds on outcomes can be tenuous, compared to those at a higher level, where invariably, the bettor will have more knowledge available to be able to make a more informed decision