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Affordability checks will undermine the safer gambling success story, argues Gambling Business Group CEO, Peter Hannibal

George Miller

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Affordability checks will undermine the safer gambling success story, argues Gambling Business Group CEO, Peter Hannibal
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Peter Hannibal, chief executive of the cross-sector Gambling Business Group, has warned that the introduction of affordability checks as proposed by the UK Gambling Commission, will jeopardise the current low incidence of problem gambling and in the process undo much of the positive work that’s been achieved by the industry in partnership with its regulator and the wider stakeholder community, including the safer gambling agencies and charities.

Commenting on the Gambling Commission’s proposal that players should be required to provide evidence of affordability based on the highly controversial creation of a monthly discretionary spend ceiling – a figure which the cross-party think-tank the Social Market Foundation has recommended is set at £23 a week (£100 pcm) – Peter Hannibal said: “I would like to stress from the outset that although the Gambling Commission’s affordability proposal has been framed in relation to online players, it would be naïve in the extreme to assume that the principles and philosophy will not be extended to all gambling entertainment activities across all verticals including Adult Gaming Centres, Licensed Betting Offices and Bingo Clubs in some shape or form.

“While this proposal is wrong on virtually every level imaginable, the biggest concern for all those who genuinely care about safer gambling and continuing the UK industry’s internationally acclaimed success story in consistently maintaining problem gambling levels to below 1 percent for the last three decades, is the impact affordability checks will have on driving players away from regulated and responsible sites to unregulated offshore sites.

He added: “Currently the demand to play on unregulated sites is limited but the unintended and I assume unforeseen consequences of affordability checks will be to create such a market and then to sustain it.

“Make no mistake, this is prohibition by another name and wherever you look in the world prohibition has never worked and will never work, more than often creating exactly the set of problems that it sets out to address.”

Hannibal believes there’s a danger a proposal of this significance does not receive the necessary degree of scrutiny particularly in relation to its’ impact on safer gambling. He explained: “In December I contacted DCMS regarding what I feel was a balanced and logical set of Terms of Reference for the Review of Gambling, but pointing out that it was illogical for the Gambling Commission to be continuing their own unilateral consultation into what it refers somewhat euphemistically as ‘customer interaction requirements and guidance’.

“I argued that it would be more logical to include any proposals for controls on consumption – that could have a profound impact on the public – as part of the Government Review. It would also be in the public’s interest for proposals for such intrusions into personal affairs to be subject to the same Aim and Objectives as those DCMS have set out for the Review of the Act which appear free of preconceptions and well considered.

“The affordability proposal raises a huge range of quite fundamental ethical, legal and practical issues – not least a precedent for state intervention in consumer spending alongside a quite startling presumption that gambling entertainment, enjoyed responsibly by 99 percent of consumers, represents a public health issue way beyond that of tobacco, excessive alcohol consumption or obesity. As such it merits much deeper, evidence-based scrutiny.”

Central Europe

GIANTS SOFTWARE AND SPORTFIVE AGREE PURPOSEFUL MARKETING PARTNERSHIP FOR GAMING BRAND FARMING SIMULATOR

George Miller

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GIANTS SOFTWARE AND SPORTFIVE AGREE PURPOSEFUL MARKETING PARTNERSHIP FOR GAMING BRAND FARMING SIMULATOR
Reading Time: 2 minutes

 

Publisher and global sports business agency hereby focus on Esports and authentic in-game brand integrations

GIANTS Software and SPORTFIVE today announce a purposeful marketing partnership, which focuses on the gaming brand Farming Simulator and aims to enhance the related Esports universe and the authenticity of the game environment via the realistic in-game integration of brands.

In trusting the Esports know-how and commercial experience of SPORTFIVE, GIANTS Software further accelerates the marketing activities for its competitive Esports series Farming Simulator League. The global sports business agency SPORTFIVE hereby adds a truly valuable element to its portfolio that highlights the immense potential in regard to in-game advertising possibilities. These integrations offer an authentic way for a variety of brands to get involved with Esports, especially for rather traditional brands that have never had contact with the Esports cosmos before. At the same time, this provides unique access to a new, large and additional target group within the Esports landscape.

The video games series Farming Simulator is the most popular gaming title from developer and publisher GIANTS Software. The game series is a global phenomenon and available on all popular platforms including consoles, mobile phones, tablets and PCs. Since 2008, over 25 million versions of Farming Simulator have been sold worldwide on PC and console alone.

SPORTFIVE now is supporting GIANTS Software in the acquisition of new partners in selected areas. The Farming Simulator world offers an attractive variety of authentic integration possibilities for brands: From becoming a partner of the professional Esports series Farming Simulator League, over in-game advertising via geo-targeted billboards to usable in-game content, i.e. stores, working equipment or vehicles.

Boris Stefan, Head of Publishing at GIANTS Software, explains: “We’re delighted to reach this agreement with such an experienced marketer. It will become the origin of further immersion into our vast maps. I already envision many larger additions and even tiny details, and all together will bring our family-friendly world to life and will add authenticity to the overall simulation experience.”

Thomas Ottl, Executive Director Global Esports at SPORTFIVE, adds: “We are truly excited for this partnership, which is strongly designed to enhance the gaming experience for the family-friendly and international fan base of Farming simulator. The innovative in-game integrations are an authentic way for brands to get in touch with a diverse and large target group and with these integrations, the game will be even more like reality. We cannot wait to get to work!”

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Asia

Hokkaido Excludes IR from 2021 Budget

Niji Narayan

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Hokkaido Excludes IR from 2021 Budget
Reading Time: < 1 minute

 

Hokkaido has announced its initial budget for 2021 on February 19, with a 15.4% (JPY432.9 billion) increase over last year to JPY3.25 trillion (US$30.9 billion). This is the third-largest initial budget ever for the prefecture, which will now be proposed at the Hokkaido Prefectural Assembly regular session on February 25.

However, the fund for IR development was a notable absentee following a recent comment by Governor Naomichi Suzuki that an IR was not in the immediate future for Hokkaido.

Funds being set aside in prefectural budgets have traditionally been considered by experts as a strong indicator of a prefecture’s intentions regarding IRs. The fact that no funds have been set aside for IR development in Hokkaido’s 2021 budget appears to signal the death knell for any remaining glimmers of hope that Hokkaido could somehow jump back into Japan’s IR race.

At a press conference, Suzuki positioned the new fiscal year’s budget as “a budget that protects lives, livelihoods and creates a path for the future.” It is hoped this will help the prefecture navigate the COVID-19 pandemic and build a society resistant to infectious disease while also promoting Hokkaido’s future in a post-pandemic world.

Revenue has declined in the economic downturn and the prefecture’s financial situation is strained. Governor Suzuki commented, “We will firmly defend ourselves while at the same time starting on proactive policy. Balancing defense and offense has been difficult but we will accept the challenge to build a future for Hokkaido while controlling the pandemic.”

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Asia

Japanese Politician Raises Concerns Over China Blacklist on Overseas Casino Tourism Destinations

Niji Narayan

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Japanese Politician Raises Concerns Over China Blacklist on Overseas Casino Tourism Destinations
Reading Time: 2 minutes

 

The Japanese government has refrained from commenting following a question from House of Representatives member Kenji Eda regarding concerns that Japan’s first integrated resort developments could see the nation added to a blacklist being compiled by Chinese authorities on foreign casino destinations.

The blacklist, originally revealed by China’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism last August and expanded earlier this month, is said to comprise overseas tourist destinations that are “disrupting” China’s outbound tourism market by opening casinos targeting mainland Chinese customers. The blacklist system would see travel restrictions imposed on Chinese citizens going to overseas cities and scenic spots named on the blacklist.

Eda revealed via his personal blog that he had submitted a question regarding the blacklist and its potential impact on Japan’s IRs, stating, “In August 2020, China announced that it would create a blacklist system to restrict travel to foreign cities that had a casino, with the allegation that overseas casinos threatened the property and safety of their citizens. With that in mind, we can understand that there are concerns that overseas casinos are a hotbed of crime, particularly corruption and graft. I request an answer if the government is aware of this system.

“Further, this, adding to the impact of the coronavirus, could have a major impact on IR (casino) operation in East Asia, which relies heavily on wealthy Chinese visitors. In the past, The Chinese government has restricted travel to South Korea because of deployment of the US military’s ground-based missile interception system, and there is a risk they could use this system politically.

“Considering this system, even if we build casinos (IR) in Japan, we cannot have expectations that foreigners, and especially Chinese tourists, will be able to visit.”

In response, the government said, “We are aware that the Chinese government has announced the establishment of a system as you described in August 2020, but the specific details are yet to be announced so we will refrain from comment.”

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