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The Challenges Facing the Online Gambling Sector with the Possible Impending Ban on Credit Card Transactions

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UKGC: How will the ban on gambling with credit cards affect the industry?
Reading Time: 3 minutes

 

The Gambling Commission (GC) is currently considering whether to ban the use of credit cards in online gambling transactions, so turbulent times may lie ahead for online operators. The culture secretary, Jeremy Wright has voiced plans to haul bookmakers and major retail banks into meetings to discuss the use of credit cards being used for gambling purposes, and his proposal comes on the back of startling statistics which reveal as many as 20% of deposits are coming from consumers who do not directly have access to the funds in which they’re using.

The Labour Party has also stated that should they gain power in the next general election, they would impose a ban on gambling with credit cards. GC requested evidence from numerous operators at the start of 2019 and later confirmed that they’d be holding a twelve-week consultation which began sometime in August. Several key interest points were detected around the use of credit cards in gambling online and these included:

  • Alternative forms of gambling to determine whether consumers are borrowing in the form of overdrafts or loans and if this was the case, both financial and gambling sectors would need to work together to protect customers from harm.
  • E-wallets: many operators have no means of knowing where the funds have come from when deposits are being made through this funding source. Future proposals would require those e-wallet services to take necessary action if regulatory measures are introduced.

Harry Christodoulou, the founder of Bingofind, who’s been covering this issue with other publications said: “We’ve been talking to affiliates from the iGB community trying to see how they plan to handle this potential issue, but they don’t seem to be that worried, for now.”

Any Impact on Land-Based and iGaming Operators?

There is one major advantage when it comes to using a credit card for gambling transactions and this is the fee that consumers face when making a deposit. The vast majority of players seek the methods which allow them to bypass this fee and this means alternative deposit methods such as debit cards and e-wallets, both of which require there to be funds in the account or you can’t use them. There is a mass speculation surrounding credit cards and problem gambling with many charities worrying that gambling with credit cards can encourage people to gamble beyond their financial means. A shocking statistic from Totally Money and Defaqto revealed how consumers had raked up a staggering £23.8 million solely in interest and transaction fees by the use of credit cards during the 2018 World Cup. Britons wagered £2.5 billion on the football tournament and 20% of this sum derived from credit card payments.

A period of uncertainty is circulating the gambling sector and as a result, PayPal, one of the world’s leading e-wallet services has pulled their services from German online casino players, will they do the same here in the UK? We’re fortunate to have one of the most regulated markets in the world, so the likelihood of this happening is slim. A domino-effect could take hold across Germany; if one e-wallet has shut down their services, many others a likely to follow suit; PaysafeCard etc could follow suit and the German gambling market could come under close scrutiny once again.

Regulations are there for a reason and most operators welcome them, even if they could hurt them in the long run, but if they stop under-age gambling and put an end to problem gambling, then they can’t be all bad. The outcome of the GC consultation on the use of credit cards in gambling is due to surface mid-November.

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From strength to strength, Ivo Doroteia, CEO of Sportingtech, looks at the growing prominence of Portugal’s betting market

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Ivo Doroteia, CEO of Sportingtech, looks at the growing prominence of Portugal’s betting market and the country’s prospects for becoming an established presence in Europe

The Portuguese market is one that has often operated in the shadow of its neighbor, Spain. With good reason: a much larger country, it possesses a player base that dwarfs Portugal’s and has always historically been further ahead in terms of regulating online gambling.

Prospects for a narrowing of the gap between the two came following the introduction of a regulated online framework in 2015, though optimism for positive change in Portugal was initially met with skepticism in equal measure. The naysayers were inevitably proved wrong; today, market growth is clear to see, with several high-profile operators performing well in the region, even in comparison to other, much larger European countries.

From my perspective, this was expected – Portugal’s land-based industry has always been robust, with bricks-and-mortar casinos consistently displaying good numbers for the likes of lottery and bingo, and the renaissance of sports betting is just another string to the market’s bow.

These past 18 months have seen a dramatic shift in fortunes for the Portuguese market – figures from Q4 2020 onwards show strong growth for gambling in the country, with sports betting leading the charge. The growth can be attributed to a number of factors, including Covid-induced lockdowns benefiting the shift from land-based to online and a changing of fiscal policies in 2020 removing the higher rates of tax for betting and gaming.

Whatever the cause, it is clear today that the presence of top-tier industry players now makes Portugal an extremely attractive proposition indeed, and no one is better positioned to take advantage of this fact than Sportingtech, with its extensive knowledge of the market and varied range of leading sports betting platforms.

Portugal is a country with sports at its heart, and now it has an effective means to bet on it. Questions have been raised about the long-term viability of this growth, some suggesting that a post-lockdown world will revert to type, with land-based betting once again taking precedent.

I disagree with this sentiment – the ingredients for sustained success are very much present in Portugal and I see no reason to suggest that this market will be anything other than a bastion for sports betting on the worldwide stage. The difficult battle, acquisition, has already been won – retention is now the market’s key directive. Sportingtech’s Quantum platform is expertly placed to assist in this – Quantum Power, for instance, is designed to improve and boost both player acquisition and retention and is a fully localized product, featuring open APIs for full integration and customization.

The sharp increase in numbers will level out in time, but this is to be expected. What the market must do to future-proof the progress it has made is provide stability with robust and scalable platforms. This, combined with high-quality content and good UI/UX, will provide a workable framework for a continuation of current trends. This would, in turn, attract even more tier-one operators who, once established with a tried-and-true platform like Quantum, could fuel the second wave of growth.

Online gambling in Portugal has now established itself, and emphatically so. While proceeding with caution, the market must take constructive steps to solidify its position as a potential cornerstone of the European industry. Putting faith in the platforms that have already proved they are worthy of fuelling growth, such as Quantum, is one such step. The stage is set for this market to truly make its mark on the betting industry: underestimate it at your peril.

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Digitain’s Fast Games Receive Go-ahead from MGA

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Digitain has been granted a licence by the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) for its full range of Fast Games.

The MGA license is widely considered one of the most respected in the world. Holding this license is a vote of confidence that the operator is transparent, fair, honest and operating within EU rules. If an operator has been granted the Malta Gaming License, it is assumed and understood they have satisfied a series of intensive, tough and thorough tests.

Hayk Sargsyan, Gaming Product Manager of Digitain, said: “The MGA license opens new perspectives for our Company on the way to achieving our goals.

“In 2022, our Fast Games will benefit from dedicated promotional activity at ICE in London and we believe the MGA license will help us cement new business with potential partners for this suite of innovative games.”

Earlier this year, Hayk Sargsyan talked in an exclusive interview with Focus Gaming News over the growth of fast games. “Our aim is to deliver a stream of fresh, entertaining and engaging content to our partners and customers,” Sargsyan told Focus Gaming News.

One area where Digitain’s studio is taking strides is fast games, which Sargsyan sees as a major growth area due to customers’ desire for a quick escape.

“Based on our research fast games are gaining more popularity among players worldwide as people with the intention to enjoy their free time tend to enjoy games that don’t really need much skill,” he said.

Sargsyan sees a need to keep things as simple as possible for new players but has also decided to develop games such as blackjack and roulette in the near future.

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Better Collective Appoints Pernille Holbøll as Senior Director of Group Media & Branding

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Better Collective AS has announced the appointment of Pernille Holbøll as Senior Director of Group Media & Branding.

Holbøll will join Better Collective senior management from 1 March 2022, as she finalises her duties as Editor-in-Chief of Danish tabloid newspaper Ekstra Bladet.

A figurehead in Danish media and journalism, Holbøll has formerly served as Head of News Publishing for MetroXpress and Managing Editor of TV2 Denmark.

Better Collective disclosed that it had created a new position for Holbøll, that will see her charged with spearheading the global media profile and brand coverage of the publisher’s multi-brand portfolio.

Holbøll will take leadership of Better Collective’s media development, as the company seeks to aggressively expand its US sports profile and enhance its standing within the new vertical of esports.

“Better Collective’s story is simply impressive. It is a very ambitious Danish listed company with a global presence and their biggest victories ahead of them. At the same time, they have a progressive strategy, which I strongly believe in,” Holbøll said.

“I’m really looking forward to being part of the team. It is also a conscious industry change for me, so it is also with great humility that I now have to test my skills in a new industry, where my experience with management, digitization and media must be used to build on the company’s ambition to make igaming entertaining, transparent and fair,” she added.

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