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Rugby sevens pools announced for Tokyo 2020 Olympics

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The pools for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic rugby sevens competitions have been announced by World Rugby exactly one month ahead of the men’s final at Tokyo Stadium

Tokyo 2020 Olympic rugby sevens pools announced with less than a month to go; The 12 men’s and 12 women’s teams are in three pools of four teams; Reigning men’s gold and silver medalists Fiji and Great Britain will face hosts Japan; Women’s Olympic champions Australia to play USA, China and Japan; Rugby sevens set to thrill fans from 26-31 July at Tokyo Stadium.

The pools for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic rugby sevens competitions have been announced by World Rugby exactly one month ahead of the men’s final at Tokyo Stadium.

The 12 men’s and 12 women’s teams have been allocated to three pools of four teams, according to rankings based upon performances in the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series and other World Rugby sanctioned tournaments over the past two years.

There are some mouth-watering encounters for fans around the globe to look forward to as rugby sevens makes its second appearance at the Olympic Games following an unforgettable debut in Rio.

Men’s competition

The men’s competition sees three of the top four placed teams from the Rio 2016 Olympic Games together in Pool B as reigning Olympic champions Fiji will face silver medalists Great Britain and hosts Japan, who finished a very creditable fourth in Rio, along with Olympic debutants Canada who claimed bronze at the last HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series event, which took place in Vancouver last year.

Pool A sees a renewal of the mouth-watering antipodean rivalry between current Rugby World Cup Sevens and World Series champions New Zealand and Australia, who met in the final of the last Series event in Vancouver, with the All Blacks Sevens winning a tightly contested match 17-14. Joining them in Pool A are Argentina, who finished sixth in Rio, alongside Olympic debutants the Republic of Korea who qualified for Tokyo by winning the Asian qualification tournament with an extra-time ‘golden point’ try to overcome Hong Kong.

South Africa, bronze medalists in Rio, and USA are in Pool C having both achieved direct Olympic qualification by finishing in the top four of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series 2019, where the USA Eagles finished runners-up after reaching the medal podium in seven of the 10 Series rounds. Joining them are Kenya, who qualified courtesy of their first Rugby Africa men’s sevens title since 2015, and Olympic debutants Ireland, who secured the final spot thanks to a thrilling 28-19 victory over France in the World Rugby Sevens Repechage in Monaco earlier this month.

Women’s competition

The women’s competition is equally fascinating with Pool C seeing hosts Japan grouped with Rio 2016 Olympic champions Australia alongside a powerful USA team, who qualified directly for Tokyo after finishing runners-up in the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series 2019, reaching the medal podium in five of the six rounds. The pool is completed by Olympic debutants China, who secured their place in Tokyo with an emphatic 33-0 victory over Hong Kong in the Asian qualifier final.

Pool B is the only pool without an Olympic debutant as Rio 2016 bronze medallists Canada are joined by France, Fiji and Brazil. France were in fine form as they swept all before them to qualify for Tokyo via the World Rugby Sevens Repechage in Monaco earlier this month. Brazil qualified for Tokyo thanks to a 28-15 victory over Colombia in the South American qualifier, while Rio 2016 quarter-finalists Fiji overcame Papua New Guinea to qualify from Oceania.

In Pool A, current Rugby World Cup Sevens and World Series title holders New Zealand will face the Russian Olympic Committee team, Great Britain and Kenya. New Zealand beat both Kenya and Great Britain on the way to claiming the silver medal at Rio 2016, while Russia ended the Black Fern’s record-equalling 37-match winning run on the Series with a 17-17 draw in Kitakyushu in April 2019. The Russian team secured their Olympic debut via this month’s Repechage.

The top four placed teams in the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series 2019 qualified directly for Tokyo while Japan were awarded their place as host nation. The remaining seven teams qualified via regional tournaments and the World Rugby Sevens Repechage in Monaco.

Following a successful test event involving members of the Japan national teams in April, preparations are on track for a world-class tournament at Tokyo Stadium, which proved to be an excellent host venue during Rugby World Cup 2019.

To ensure teams are as best prepared as possible to perform on the greatest sporting stage of all, World Rugby has invested US$4 million into Olympic qualified unions’ sevens programmes and towards the costs of hosting a number of high-performance preparation events, the last of which took place in Los Angeles, USA, and Townsville, Australia, over the past weekend.

World Rugby Chief Executive Alan Gilpin said: “Today’s announcement marks a very exciting step on the road to Tokyo with less than a month to go until the players run out in Tokyo Stadium to compete on the Olympic stage.

“These will certainly be unique Olympic Games and we have been working very closely with the IOC, Tokyo 2020 and all other stakeholders towards delivering a safe, secure and highly impactful rugby sevens competition in Tokyo.

“Rugby sevens is a key priority for World Rugby and the inclusion of the sport for the first time in the Games at Rio 2016 had a profound effect, attracting an estimated 30 million new fans globally. With the recent launch of our new ‘This Is How We Sevens’ campaign we are confident millions more fans will engage with the thrilling, fast-paced and action-packed spectacle that is rugby sevens.

“As always, player welfare is at the heart of all our planning and we are confident that as it proved during Rugby World Cup 2019, Tokyo Stadium will be an excellent venue for the teams to inspire the world with their skill, athleticism, determination and the core rugby values of solidarity, integrity and respect.

“With the pools decided, we can now countdown the days and look forward what promises to be another memorable edition of Olympic rugby sevens.”

Mikako Kotani, Sports Director for Tokyo 2020, said: “Today, rugby sevens’ pool allocations for Tokyo 2020 are announced. This year, rugby sevens will return to the Olympic Games for the second time after its inclusion at the Olympic Games Rio de Janeiro 2016 for the first time.

“We had a successful test event at Tokyo Stadium in April and we are confident that we have an excellent venue for the players so that they will be able to show their best performances to inspire the world and connect the world together once more.

“We are excited to welcome an international rugby tournament back to Japan and we hope rugby’s One Team Spirit will touch the hearts of people in Japan and in the world. I wish the very best of luck to all the 12 men’s and 12 women’s teams. Good luck to all the athletes and look forward to welcoming you all soon.”

Rugby sevens is expected to be one of the most highly anticipated events of the Tokyo Games, following the outstanding success of Rugby World Cup 2019 in Japan, which captured the nation’s imagination with record-breaking broadcast audiences and huge numbers of new rugby fans across Japan and Asia.

The men’s competition will take place from 26-28 July, with the women’s tournament following on 29-31 July with the gold medal match happening on ‘Super Saturday’. All the action will take place at Tokyo Stadium, which was the venue for the opening match of Rugby World Cup 2019.

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Push Gaming unleashes a stampede with Bison Battle

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Push Gaming unleashes a stampede with Bison Battle
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B2B gaming supplier Push Gaming whisks players off to the plains of North America to witness a clash of ferocious beasts in its new slot, Bison Battle.

Testament to Push’s reputation for being able to develop a diverse range of titles, Bison Battle comes hot on the heels of recent release Fire Hopper, upping the ante with an action-packed game style, as well as a theme inspired by a well-established land-based player favourite.

Set across the Great Plains, rowdy and raging Bisons butt heads in an eventful base game with Red Bison dictating when the wins drop. Their appearance can bring about an explosive Bison Clash that can grant instant prize coins and multipliers.

If a Green Bison meets a Red Bison, at least eight free spins and unlimited multipliers can be won against a backdrop of a beautiful green valley. When Red and Blue Bison square, play shifts to a chilling ice park where players begin with three free spins along with sticky instant prizes and multipliers.

Packed with features including Push’s popular recent addition Bonus Buy, it isn’t only the Bold Bison that roam the plains in the game as eagles, cougars and wolves also prowl the reels in a game design that boldly presents a Native American environment in a one-of-a-kind slot experience.

Commenting on the launch, James Marshall, CEO at Push Gaming said: “Our team has done a fine job with Bison Battle – they’ve had great fun putting together a game that is snappy and endlessly entertaining from the base game through to the second screen-features.

“Our Bonus Buy feature makes an appearance too, adding yet more options for players to enjoy the action. We’re really looking forward to seeing our fans challenge the battling bison!”

The release comes on the back of a hugely successful year for Push Gaming, having picked up crowns at the Casino Beats Game Developer Awards, Game of the Year at the 2021 SiGMA Europe Awards as well as multiple shortlist appearances at both the 2021 EGR and SBC Awards.

Established as one of the industry’s most entertaining suppliers, Push Gaming is live across Europe’s key regulated markets with Casumo, LeoVegas, Entain, The Rank Group, Betsson and PaddyPowerBetfair. Its growth roadmap will see entry into further global jurisdictions with its top-tier partners throughout 2022.

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Yggdrasil and Peter & Sons enter the world of the demons in Xibalba

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Yggdrasil and Peter & Sons enter the world of the demons in Xibalba
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Yggdrasil, the leading worldwide publisher of online gambling content, and Peter & Sons have unlocked the doors to the underworld in latest release Xibalba.

As the 12 demon lords of Xibalba gather, brave adventurers are greeted with an initial 5×3 reel set, with the height expanding with every winning spin. Each successful spin also increases a win multiplier by 1x, with winning combinations being removed in the classic ‘cascading’ style slot.

Wilds can also grow during the game, with them not being removed by cascades, but ensuring every symbol added to the reel above it is also a wild.

When two scatter symbols land on a single spin, the Gigantor feature is triggered. This sees a respin occur, with reels in which scatters have landed spinning in sync while displaying supersized symbols of up to 3×3 in size for massive wins.

Three or more scatters will see 15 free spins awarded, with an unlimited multiplier during cascades, without resetting every spin for huge win potential as the multiplier builds.

In certain jurisdictions, players can also buy free spins for a shortcut into extra win potential.

Xibalba is the newest slot from Peter & Sons to join the YG Masters portfolio, following Monster Blox Gigablox™. Xibalba is powered by GATI, with Yggdrasil’s state-of-the-art technology enabling partners to employ the preconfigured, regulation-ready, standardised development toolkit to produce consistently cutting-edge content followed by rapid distribution.

Stuart McCarthy, Head of Product and Programs at Yggdrasil, said: Xibalba marks another fantastic addition to our portfolio by Peter & Sons. With increasing ways to win, cascading symbols and a lucrative bonus round, it yet again highlights the strength of the studio as a member of the YG Masters program.

Yann Bautista, Business Development Manager at Peter & Sons, said: “We continue to churn out exciting new hits as part of the YG Masters initiative and Xibalba is one of our most exciting yet.

“Uniting our unique art style with huge win potential and a dynamic reel set, we’re extremely pleased to release this game across Yggdrasil’s network and look forward to seeing how our fans react.”

 

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Macau’s Draft Gaming Bill Outlines Tighter Control of Casinos, Junkets

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Macau’s Legislative Assembly has published the draft of a highly anticipated gaming bill on Tuesday that gave details on the Chinese territory’s goal of tightening its grip on casino firms and reining in so-called junket operators.

The proposed changes, which need legislators’ approval to become law, mark the biggest reform in two decades for the world’s biggest gambling hub in terms of money wagered and lay the ground for multibillion-dollar casino operators ahead of the expiration of their licenses this year.

The 44-page draft document – published in Chinese and Portuguese – comes after the government announced on Friday that the number of new licenses would be capped at six and the license term halved to 10 years.

The licences of the six operators, Wynn Macau, Sands China, MGM China, SJM Holdings, Galaxy Entertainment and Melco Resorts, are all due to expire in June. The government said all existing or potential operators need to apply through a new tender process.

The draft bill aimed to provide clarity on the role of the junket operators, middlemen tasked with bringing in high-rollers from mainland China. If approved, casino operators would no longer have dedicated junket rooms, and revenue-sharing arrangements between the two parties would be prohibited.

Macau will continue to issue junket licenses to approved VIP promoters but will restrict them to only operating in one concessionaire. Previously, Macau junkets were allowed to operate in all operators with multiple rooms. This is likely to further dilute their influence.

While a proposal for a government official to directly supervise the casinos was dropped after feedback from the operators, casinos will be subject to a review every three years when the city’s gaming regulator will examine their “contractual compliance in general”.

Each license holder will have a 30% cap on the number of shares that can be publicly listed while any major financial transactions must be communicated to authorities. The government said it has the right to terminate a casino’s contract for reasons including public interest or breaching its obligations.

Casino operators will have to draw up a plan to promote responsible gambling, while there will be a maximum number of gaming tables and machines each license holder will be allowed to operate, according to the bill.

The draft detailed what would be expected of new licensees, including support for local small- and medium-sized companies, activities of “public interest” and support for fields including science and the environment.

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