The UK's horse racing administrators are preparing to fight tooth and nail to stop any plan by the government to limit TV
gambling advertisements. The possibility of a pre-watershed ban on the adverts was floated in Friday's edition of The Times and, while the report was speculative and anonymously sourced, it was enough to send a shiver through senior figures, both on the
turf and beyond.
Among those feeling anxious were the executives who negotiated a £30m, four-year deal to televise racing on ITV from 2017. The value of racing's terrestrial rights depends almost entirely on the huge sums that bookmakers will pay to advertise in the
breaks. A ban on daytime advertising would blow a hole in ITV's business plan as wide as Newmarket Heath, and reduce the value of the rights in future deals almost to zero.
In fact the entire Channel 4/ITV racing programme itself could be considered as one long promotion for gambling.
The digital channel At The Races also depends heavily on bookmaker advertising. Other sports, football in particular, could also see a drop in the value of their TV rights, but only racing has a fundamental link to betting as a primary revenue
stream and a daytime ban would be catastrophic for the sport's finances.
According to Friday's report, possible changes to the rules on gambling adverts will be added to a review of fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs), the controversial gaming machines that have turned what were once betting shops into outlets for roulette
and other fixed-margin games which were once restricted to casinos.
Racing will also be concerned that any compromise proposal that imposed an early-evening cut-off point for gambling adverts would bar bookies from advertising during terrestrial racing coverage, but leave much of the televised Premier League and
Champions League football schedule on Sky Sports and BT Sport relatively unaffected.
Offsite Comment: Is banning gambling ads censorship? You bet
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and Dota 2 are at the center of a proposed bill in the Australian parliament, which would define the titles as gambling and could potentially see them banned or mandatorily 18 rated .
Introduced by independent Senator Nick Xenophon, a veteran politician in Australia, he told the Sydney Morning Herald that the bill is looking to curtail what he considers to be the Wild West of online gambling that is actually targeting kids.
The concept of skin betting is a nominally no-cash betting entertainment where the stakes are game commodities eg skins, hides, cases, chests. Presumably the skins are made available in the games. The skins betting sites are quite professionally
presented along the lines of cash sports betting sites. And several have been linked to games producers. Of course even if skins are nominally not cash, the fact that they are scarce resources makes them suitable for trading and purchases somewhere along
Skin betting has been controversial of late with CS:GO and Dota 2's developer, Valve, eventually responding to the controversy by sending cease and desist letters to 23 of the most prolific third-party gambling sites, asking them to cease
Xenophon argues that the in-game commodities known as cases (or chests in Dota 2) is gambling in and of itself, due to the differing value of the rewards players receive from them.
Should the bill become law, games providing such betting opportunities will be 18 rated, regardless of the level of content in terms of sex and violence etc. Furthermore if games become classified as gambling, Valve would find itself in breach of
Australian law as only companies registered in the country are allowed to offer gambling services, meaning the games could get pulled from sale in Australia altogether.
Nick Xenophon's bill will be introduced to the senate next month as Australian Federal Parliament resumes.
Nick Xenophon plans to introduce a bill to Parliament that could stipulate a minimum age for playing first-person shooter games which include payment for mystery items. This is a feature of games such as Counter Strike: Global Offensive , Overwatch
and indeed many mobile games that get revenue through micro-transactions.
News reports have inevitably represented the issue according to the same media effects model Xenophon has adopted. That is, first-person shooters groom kids for gambling and video games expose unsuspecting children and young people to
danger and risk. It is the kind of half-story often told, one that reflects our tendency as a society to reductively demonise every new medium, to blame them for our problems, and turn them into scapegoats for our bad habits and antisocial behaviour.
For instance, book-reading was once considered a lazy, indulgent or reclusive activity, TV gave our children square eyes and being online all the time prevented young people from learning how to behave appropriately in face-to-face contexts. Oh,
and video games turn high school kids into mass murderers (think Columbine or Sandy Hook), or at the very least make our children obese, more aggressive and lacking in empathy. They also have been said to cause learning difficulties, behavioural problems
and now, according to Xenophon, early-onset gambling addiction.
Quebec's plans to force ISP's to block gambling websites not approved by the province is being put to the test by a federal consumer rights group. The Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) this week filed an objection to a law, passed by the Quebec
legislature earlier in the year.
The bill's supporters claim that its aim is to improve public health by forcing state residents to play on the Quebec's monopoly gaming site, Lotto-Quebec's Espace-jeux.
But critics, which include net neutrality advocates , technology lawyers, and the ISPs themselves, have accused the Quebec government of setting a dangerous precedent by putting commercial gain above the freedom of the internet.
The plans, which were drawn up in the provinces March 2015 budget predict the scheme will boost government revenues by $13.5 million in 2016-2017 and $27 million in subsequent years. These gains will come at the huge expense of ISP companies, which have
said that the disruption to their infrastructures would be enormous as they would have to redesign their networks from the ground up. The cost of this would be passed onto consumers.
The PIAC filing states that Quebec is in direct conflict with the1993 Federal Telecommunications Act, which prohibits a communications provider from control[ing] the content or influence[ing] the meaning or purpose of telecommunications carried by it
for the public, unless it has approval from the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission.
The Polish ministry of finance has announced an amendment to risk and hazard legislation, with plans
to create a registry of illegal websites, as well as blocking websites with illegal content. According to the official announcement, the law is supposedly ntended to protect [online] gamblers to a high standard by eliminating grey zones .
In Gazeta Wyborcza, the bills authors explained that the project is actually designed to increase revenue from the state gambling monopoly.
Watchdog NGO Fundacja Panoptykon, warned that:
The idea to block websites containing illegal content raises many doubts. Just the mere creation of the tools to filter and block content of particular sites is dangerous. The Polish constitution prohibits preventive censorship.
According to the daily newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza, the government expects the law to take effect in January 2017.
The New South Wales government has banned greyhound racing.
The state's premier, Mike Baird says that the decision was down to chilling and horrific evidence of animal cruelty within the sport. Baird said an inquiry conducted by a special commission had found that the industry was incapable of reforming
itself, leaving him no option but a ban. He siad:
As a humane and responsible government, we are left with no acceptable course of action except to close this industry down.
The inquiry found that between 48,000 and 68,000 dogs had been killed over the past 12 years in the state because they were too slow, or otherwise surplus. Around 10 to 20 per cent of trainers were indulging in the illegal practice of live baiting
, which involves tying live animals to the artificial lure which is mechanically moved around the track to encourage the dogs to race. Live possums, rabbits and other animals were sometimes used in training.
Greyhound Racing NSW, the local governing body, says the industry had been left devastated by the decision and said there are many thousands of responsible participants who treat their greyhounds like family :
These people were as dismayed as others by the exposure of completely unacceptable and inhumane practices within greyhound racing,.
The government of the Australian state of New South Wales has reversed plans to ban greyhound racing. The ban was due to be imposed after an inquiry found overwhelming evidence of animal cruelty, including mass killings and the use of live bait in
State Premier Mike Baird said he had underestimated the desire to give the greyhound industry one last chance . He added:
We got it wrong - I got it wrong, cabinet got it wrong, the government got it wrong.
Thailand's Public Health Ministry has ludicrously warned football fans to avoid getting overly excited while watching Euro 2016 lest those heart-stopping moments literally prove fatal.
The minsitry published advice calling on fans to ward off heart attacks by making sure they get enough rest and avoid long binges of football-fuelled excitement. Suwanchai Wattanayingcharoenchai, the deputy permanent secretary for public health, told
The ministry would like to advise all sport lovers -- teenagers, students, working people and the elderly -- to watch sensibly, Allocate appropriate time for watching and resting.
The ministry urged those with diabetes and heart problems to make sure they continue to take medication. It said those who work hard, even the young, should also take care. Suwanchai continued:
If your bodies are weak, fans should only watch the matches they are interested in or watch replays instead. Do enough rest, exercise, eat healthy foods and avoid alcohol.
Somehow the health and safety minister didn't mention the more pertinent advice of avoiding Russian football thugs.
Police said that during the 2014 World Cup, more than 800 football gambling websites in Thailand were shut down and almost 1,000 people, mostly gamblers, were arrested.
Québec's government-run lottery agency, Loto-Québec, is forging ahead with a plan to block roughly 2,200 online-gambling sites following last week's passage of the controversial Bill 74, which authorizes the state-run lottery to compile such a blacklist
and to assess heavy fines against the province's ISPs in case of noncompliance.
The province's censorship plan, which has been heavily assailed as being unconstitutional and in direct violation of Canada's federal communications laws, is likely to face stiff legal challenges in the coming weeks and months. Bill 74, which is actually
Québec's omnibus budget legislation, proved to be the vehicle through which Québec's lottery forced through the changes it desired -- a way to eradicate competition.
Whether a blacklist will be delivered by Loto-Québec to the province's ISPs in June, with an accompanying order to enforce the new law, remains uncertain. Loto-Québec is early in a 30-day period in which it is mandated to draw up the blacklist's targets,
meaning that attempted domain blocking won't begin, at the earliest, until the latter half of June.
Loto-Quebec weakly claim that blacklisting needs to be done as a "public health" service for Québec' citizens. Of course, Loto-Québec hopes to get healthier as well... financially, that is. Loto-Québec openly admits that this is all about the
dollars; as of now, the official Québec lottery is estimated to have only 10% of the province's "real" online-gambling market, and the lottery is willing to go the "Great Firewall of China" route to get the remaining 90% and thus the
online monopoly it craves.
An email for Boylesports Gaming, dated 25 March 2016, showed a hand nailed to a length of wood. Blood dripped from where the nail entered the hand and a desert scene was shown in the background. Large text stated BOYLESPORTS GAMING - NAILED ON BONUS
. Text on a sign hanging from the nail stated BETWEEN 5 - 25 QUID . Text below the image stated Hi [recipient's name] - In memory of the dearly departed JC, we are offering you a sacrilecious [sic] Bonus this Easter weekend ... So don't just
sit there gorging your own body weight in chocolate, that's disrespectful. Get on Boylesports Gaming and get your nailed on bonus .
A recipient of the email, who considered that the ad depicted a crucifixion and that it mocked the Christian religion at an important time in the Christian year, challenged whether the ad was offensive.
ASA Assessment: Complaint upheld
The ad showed a partial image of a crucifixion with a desert scene in the background and was sent to recipients over the Easter weekend -- the complainant received it on Good Friday. The ASA considered those elements and that timing, together with the
references in the text to the dearly departed JC , a sacrilecious [sic] bonus and that's disrespectful , all contributed to the impression that the image was a reference not simply to a generic, historic crucifixion but to the
crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Given that context, we considered that the way in which the ad made light of the subject matter, with the play on words NAILED ON BONUS ; the jokey language of BETWEEN 5-25 QUID , dearly departed JC and
sacrilecious Bonus , and the cartoon-style image of blood dripping from the hand pierced by the nail, a particularly sacred image for Christians, were likely to cause serious offence to some recipients. We considered the offence was likely to be
particularly strongly felt by those of the Christian faith at Easter, when the imagery would have a particularly strong resonance. We considered that the ad was likely to cause serious offence and concluded that it was therefore in breach of the Code.
We welcomed Boylesports Enterprise's assurance that the ad had finished its run. The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Boylesports Enterprise to ensure future ads did not cause serious or widespread offence.
Tatarstan, a region in the Russian Federation, has proposed a bill that would bring significant fines for users of online gambling websites. The fines would be extended to parents or guardians that allowed their children to use gambling websites as well.
Proposed fines range between 10,000 and 20,000 roubles ($150 - $300) for users of online casinos. The bill also proposes a heftier fine in the sum of 150,000 roubles (approximately $2,300) for landlords that allow gambling on their properties.
Opponents of the bill however note that it is redundant as the current legislation in Russia completely forbids gambling even via the internet with very few exceptions.
The Australian Greens political party has proposed plans to stop the promotion of sports betting.
Greens leader and spokesprat on gambling and sport, Senator Richard Di Natale unveiled the Greens' policy to end the constant barrage of sports betting ads, by treating them in the same way as tobacco advertising.
After a long debate, the South African government has decided to maintain its prohibition of online casino gambling. This was revealsed in a policy document released by the Department of Trade and Industry.
South Africa allows online sports betting though, and this will be allowed to continue. Now National Gambling Act amendments will order ISPs to ban all access to casino websites and forbid financial institutions to process any banking transactions.
Enforcement responsibilities will be undertaken by the National Gambling Regulator.
A little-publicized bill that is making its way through Quebec's legislative process will put an end to the concept of a free and open Internet.
Bill 74 includes a provision that seeks to force Internet service providers to block Quebecers' access to online gambling sites that aren't approved by the government.
The province's finance minister claims the bill is necessary to protect the health and safety of Quebecers because illegal sites don't apply the same responsible gaming rules as sites run by the government and pose a risk to the population.
Critics explain that the Internet-censoring legislation is a way for Quebec's state-owned gambling authority to block competition and could lead to governments across the country deciding what citizens can and can't view online. Law experts say the
legislation violates freedom of expression, contradicts federal telecommunications law and will likely be challenged in court by Internet companies and civil rights groups.
Quebec's government-run gambling authority, Loto-Quebec, has been losing money to online gaming competitors, according to the 2015-16 budget documents.
New figures providing better insight into gambling behaviour in Britain have been published by the Gambling Commission.
Accompanied by easily digestible infographics the reports cover participation in gambling, perceptions of gambling and rates of problem gambling.
The research, for the first time ever, also includes information about how people gamble online -- the devices they use to gamble, where they gamble, and the number of accounts they use.
Participation in gambling has fallen from 57% in 2012 to 45% in 2015 - this can be attributed to National Lottery draw participation dropping from 46% to 32% in the same period.
National Lottery draws remain by far the most popular gambling activity followed by other lotteries and scratchcards
At 0.5% rates of problem gambling are static -- 2015 (0.5%) and 2014 (0.5%)
Those aged 18-24 are most likely to be problem gamblers (1.1%), and 1% of men were problem gamblers in 2015 compared with 0% of women
25-34 year olds are most likely to use mobile and tablet devices, bet in-play and gamble outside of the home
Laptops are the preferred devices among all age groups for online gambling while those aged under 45 are most likely to use mobiles or tablets to gamble in addition to laptops.
Paul Hope, Gambling Commission programme director, said:
It's vital that we monitor gambling trends and behaviour across society. Reports such as these are essential for us when developing regulations and for the Government when developing public policies on gambling.
Two promotions on the William Hill website, www.williamhill.com:
a. A promotion seen on 11 December 2015 was headed £5 Risk Free* With Family Guy ... Play Now. Further text stated Get cosy with the Griffins this weekend and get a giggidy Risk Free! Claim Now and stake £5 or more on Family Guy until midnight on Sunday,
and if the reels don't spin in your favour you'll get a £5 Risk Free to have another go and Family Guy £5 Risk Free Terms and Conditions: ... 2. The Promotions is only available to players who have claims and placed a minimum stake of £5 â?¦ 3. Refunded
cash will be calculated as losses incurred less winnings on the Selected Games up to £5. 4. A minimum of £5 will be awarded during any Promotion Period. Any amounts less than £5 will not qualify.
b. A promotion seen on 25 December 2015 was headed Christmas Cracker - Get £10 Risk Free on The Pig Wizard. Further text stated Merry Christmas! You've pulled our cracker, now squeal with joy with this £10 Risk Free offer on The Pig Wizard! Simply, click
'Claim Now' and then stake £10 on this magical slot before midnight tonight, safe in the knowledge that if you're not a winner this time, we'll refund you up to £10 and £10 Risk Free The Pig Wizard Vega Millions Terms and Conditions ... 2. The Promotion
is only available to players who have claimed and placed a minimum stake of £10 â?¦ 4. Refunded money will be calculated as losses incurred less winnings on the Selected Games up to £10. 5. A minimum of £10 will be awarded during any Promotion Period.
Any amounts less than £10 will not qualify for bonus credit. Issue
The complainant challenged whether:
the claim Risk Free in ad (a) was misleading, because when they played the game they were unable to obtain the £5 refund without staking additional money; and
the claim £10 Risk Free in ad (b) was misleading, because they said they were refused a refund on the basis that they had only staked £9.80 of their own money and the 80p which they 'won' during the game and subsequently lost, did not count as their own
ASA Assessment: Complaints upheld
The ASA considered that consumers would understand from the claim £5 Risk Free in ad (a) that they could stake £5 on the game without risk, meaning that if they lost that money on the game it would be refunded to them and withdrawable as cash. We noted
that the T&Cs for the promotion appeared on the same page as the promotion itself meaning they were drawn to consumers' attention. However, we considered that the wording of the terms was unclear and contradictory. In particular, the third term
stated that Refunded cash will be calculated as losses incurred less winnings on the Selected Games up to £5, but the fourth term stated A minimum will be awarded during any Promotion Period. Any amounts less than £5 will not qualify. We considered that
these references to up to £5, a minimum of £5 and Any amounts less than £5 will not qualify would be likely to confuse consumers about what amounts would be refunded. We also understood that in the case of the complainant, when they played the game they
were unable to obtain the £5 refund without staking additional money because they won 40 pence in the game and were therefore in credit to that amount in the game, which they were unable to stake without adding 10 pence of their own money due to a
minimum 50 pence stake. We considered that this contradicted the risk free offer, because it was not possible in all cases to stake £5 and receive a refund without a customer staking some additional money of their own. We therefore concluded that the
claim Risk Free was misleading.
We considered that consumers would understand from the claim £10 Risk Free in ad (b) that they could stake £10 on the game without risk, meaning that if they lost that money on the game it would be refunded to them and withdrawable as cash. We noted that
the T&Cs for the promotion appeared on the same page as the promotion itself meaning they were drawn to consumers' attention. We considered that the ad made sufficiently clear that to participate in the promotion customers would have to stake £10 of
their own money -- the text giving information about the offer stated Simply, click Claim Now and then stake £10 on this magical slot and the T&Cs also stated that the promotion was only available to players who have claimed and placed a minimum
stake of £10. We therefore did not consider consumers would expect to be able to stake less than £10 and use any subsequent winnings for the minimum stake requirement for the promotion. However, we considered that the wording of other terms was unclear
and contradictory. In particular the fourth term stated Refunded money will be calculated as losses incurred less winnings on the Selected Games up to £10, but the fourth term stated A minimum of £10 will be awarded during any Promotion Period. Any
amounts less than £10 will not qualify for bonus credit. We considered these references to up to £10, a minimum of £10 and amounts less than £10 will not qualify for bonus credit would be likely to confuse consumers about what amounts would be refunded.
We therefore concluded that the ad was misleading.
The ads must not appear again in the form complained of. We told William Hill to ensure that terms and conditions were clearly worded and unambiguous, so that consumers would understand how the promotion worked and what amounts would be refunded. We also
told them not to describe promotions as risk free if the mechanic of the relevant game meant that it was not possible in all cases to stake the required amount and receive a refund without a customer staking some additional money of their own.
Malaysia's deputy prime minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zhaid Hamidi recently announced that he would use the government's next cabinet meeting to address online gambling.
Despite never introducing laws to govern online gambling, the Malaysian government considers the act to be illegal and intends to introduce legislation to clarify the situation. It appears that remote gambling operators might have to prepare for an exit
from the Malaysian market after Zhaid said current laws had to be amended to include preventative and punitive penalties for online gamblers.
To limit online gambling, Zahid spoke of a need for action against internet cafes where players can go for access to the web. Thus far, many of the cafes have managed to avoid reprisals from the authorities by maintaining CCTV and having street
informants who can deliver warnings before police arrive.
Zahid also explained that the government was training specialist policeman who would serve as anti-gambling experts tasked with bringing down online gambling in Malaysia.
The Gaming Control Authority under the Ministry of Finance of Lithuania has announced that it has blocked further online gambling websites that do not adhere to new restrictions introduced in the country earlier this year.
In January, the Lithuanian gambling censor pledged to take strict legal action against operators that organise remote gambling contrary to the wishes of Lithuania. The Gaming Control Authority has followed up on this by blocking a number of
companies that have transgressed the restrictions. Websites on the list include Betway, Unibet, William Hill, PokerStars, Marathonbet and 188bet.
Virginijus Dauksys, director of the Gaming Control Authority, said:
It is surprising that certain world-wide known companies, reluctant to legalise their activity, are blatantly violating the laws of the Republic of Lithuania.
Changing of the internet domain name in order to avoid the legal measures and to operate illegally in Lithuania can be treated as smuggling activity.
The Gaming Control Authority will continue by all means available to ensure the protection of Lithuanian gambling market from illegal offers and protection of customers of the Republic of Lithuania from uncontrolled gambling flows to prevent compulsive
and minors gambling.