Global Glance: Stars Buys Sky, Italy Eyes Applications, Russia Blocks

Global Glance: Stars Buys Sky, Italy Eyes Applications, Russia Blocks
Online gaming news spanned from Russia to Colombia

The weekly Global Glance looks at the online poker scene around the world. What happens with online poker and gambling beyond America’s borders can and often does impact the state of online poker in the United States.

The news from the previous week was highlighted by business news, as Stars Group announced this weekend that it agreed to purchase Sky Betting & Gaming. At the same time, PokerStars launched its ring-fenced India product, while Italy tallied its latest online gaming license applications. Russia blocked a significant number of gaming sites in advance of FIFA, and Colombia announced it will no longer aim to participate in online poker liquidity. GambleAware, Denmark, and Sweden were also in the news, and you can get the full scoop here:

Stars Group Buys Sky Betting

The biggest surprise news of the week was the announcement this weekend that PokerStars parent Stars Group agreed to buy Sky Betting & Gaming in a $4.7 billion deal. Of that amount, $3.6 billion will be paid in cash, with the rest in the form of 37.9 million stock shares.

Stars Group recently failed to purchase William Hill, but it is now set to control Sky, one of the largest sports betting giants in the world. According to Stars Group CEO Rafi Ashkenazi, Sky is an “ideal complement to our industry-leading poker platform.”

Bloomberg reported the news, along with a chart that showed Stars Group is 66.9% poker-related before the deal, but the acquisition makes poker only 37% of the overall business. This move gives Stars Group a new and important advantage in the sports betting world.

PokerStars Launches in India

The company that just bought Sky was already having a big week, as PokerStars launched its new India-only site. It is operating under the Sugal & Damani Group’s Sachiko Gaming license in India but using its trademark PokerStars brand.

PokerStars had been preparing for the new market and even signed Muskan Sethi, a new Indian-based ambassador to help smooth the transition for Indian players from the dot-com market to a ring-fenced and thus-smaller site.

Italy Boasts of 80 License Applicants

When Italy’s gambling regulator Agenzia delle Dogane e dei Monopoli (ADM) opened its online gambling license window for new applications, it may not have expected such an enthusiastic response. A total of 70 operators applied for approximately 80 licenses, some requesting multiples and some renewals, and it garnered €16 million from application fees alone.

ADM confirmed that all applications were complete and in compliance with regulations. Some of the names revealed in the group were PokerStars and Lottomatica. If all applications are approved and licenses granted, there will be 172 license holders in Italy going forward.

The news comes on top of other positive developments with the release of March online gambling numbers. They showed significant increases in revenue for almost all online verticals.

Russia Blocks More Gaming Sites

It is not unusual for online gambling and betting sites to be blocked in Russia, as the country has long grappled with the legality of such operators. But with the FIFA World Cup nearing, Russia wanted to make a bigger statement, which included blocking more than 1,800 gaming sites this month.

In 2017, Russia’s Federal Service for Supervision in the Sphere of Telecom, Information Technologies and Mass Communications – also known as Roskomnadzor – blocked more than 62,700 sites. Many were gambling providers but others were simply gambling news outlets or affiliate sites.

Colombia Decides Against Poker Liquidity

In late 2017, Colombian gaming regulator Coljuegos announced it wanted to participate in online poker liquidity internationally. As it regulated the games within its borders, it wanted to share player pools as several European countries were planning at the time. But Coljuegos seems to have changed its mind and scrapped the idea.

The head of a Colombian gaming trade group said there were fears of money laundering by players in other countries. In addition, they realized that operators wanting to share liquidity must have licenses in all participating countries, which is expensive and would likely be reserved for only the largest international companies.

 

Swedish Regulator Receives Extra Funding

Lotteriinspektionen, the Swedish gambling regulator in the process of deciphering possible new gambling laws, received good news last week. The Swedish government will allocate additional annual funding for the regulator of SEK19m, which is approximately $2.3 million.

The reason for the bonus is to help get through the new laws for online gambling in Sweden that are scheduled to go into effect this year. Licensing applications will be accepted as of August 2018, with the laws awaiting final approval by the European Commission.

Denmark Online Revenue Rules

The latest numbers released by Danish regulator Spillemyndigheden compile all internet gambling revenue for 2017 and show an increase of 47.4% from the previous year. In fact, online gaming comprised 51.5% of the market, exceeding revenue from land-based gambling establishments for the first time.

GambleAware Receives Record Donations

The lead independent charity in the UK dedicated to minimizing gambling-related harm reported record donations for the year. GambleAware Chief Marc Etches wrote to the industry to report that £9.4 million was recorded for the 12-month period ending March 31, 2018, a record and 16% increase over the previous year.

The goal for the group was to raise £10 million, but GambleAware was encouraged by the voluntary donations. Companies can now give for the 2018/2019 year.

 

About Jennifer Newell

Jennifer began writing about poker while working at the World Poker Tour in the mid-2000s. Since then, her freelance writing career has taken her from Los Angeles to Las Vegas and back to her hometown of St. Louis, where she now lives with her two dogs. She continues to follow the poker world as she also launches a new subscription box company and finishes her first novel. Jennifer has written for numerous publications including PokerStars.com and has followed the US poker and gaming market closely for the last 15 years. Follow Jen on Twitter

Disclaimer: The information on this site is my interpretation of the laws as made available online. It is in no way meant to serve as legal advice or instruction. We recommend that you seek legal advice from a licensed attorney for further or official guidance.

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