Betfair joins William Hill, others out of Poland market
Betfair has become the latest big name in the iGaming world to announce its decision to exit the Polish market.
The company’s move comes after the country brought in new national gambling laws, which are set to kick in soon.
Updated regulations will say that iGaming operators not willing to apply for a new license, which involves a 12% tax on wagering turnover, must stop operations in Poland by April 1.
Last week, William Hill confirmed it would pull out of Poland, while the likes of Bet365, EnergyBet and Pinnacle have also announced their exit ahead of the deadline.
William Hill shot a letter to all stakeholders in Poland, informing them that it intends to stop offering its products in Poland prior to April 1.
Customers can withdraw their funds from the site until April 1. Post this date, they will have to contact customer support to do the same.
Apart from this, William Hill has informed all affiliates to take off any marketing material directed at Polish customers from their websites.
Despite withdrawing from the market, William Hill intends to return to the market in the future.
Totalizator Sportowy is to remain a monopoly in the country, with complete control over its online gaming market.
DraftKings expands further after going live in Germany
Daily fantasy sports (DFS) operator DraftKings is set to expand further after launching in Germany.
Earlier in 2017, the company had revealed its plans to increase its presence in the European market after getting a Controlled Skill Games License from the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA).
At the time, DraftKings had mentioned Germany as a possible expansion market, and has now accomplished that plan by launching a beta version of its DFS platform for all the customers in the European nation.
German players can access all 10 sports currently offered by DraftKings in US markets, including on contests from NFL American football league, Major League Baseball and the NBA basketball league, as well as seven leagues of football.
Jeffrey Haas, chief international officer at DraftKings, said:
“Germany is known for its passionate sports fans and we are pleased to welcome them to daily fantasy sports.
“Germans show a proclivity for American sports, particularly the NFL and NBA.
“Initial testing in Germany shows that our most popular sport has been the NBA, which is why we are opening our beta test to all German sports fans.”
GVC cites bwin.party acquisition as main reason for boost in finances in 2016
GVC Holdings has stated that its takeover of bwin.party last year was the key reason behind a year-on-year increase in key finances in 2016.
The company’s pro forma net gaming revenue was €894.6 million ($963.7 million), an increase of 9% on the €822.2 million posted in 2015.
Clean earnings, before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA), jumped up 26% year-on-year to €205.7 million, on a pro forma basis.
GVC also revealed that pro forma sports wagers were up 4% from €4.39 billion in 2015 to €4.55 billion in the last year, with an increased sports margin of 8.5%.
The pro forma results exhibited a combined group as if GVC acquired bwin.party on January 1.
The company’s actual net gaming revenue rounded up to €843.4 million, while actual clean EBITDA came in at €193.5 million and actual sports wagers stood at €4.33 billion.
Kenneth Alexander, chief executive of GVC, said: “The acquisition of bwin.party in February 2016 was our most ambitious transaction to date and through the hard work of our people we have once again demonstrated our ability to create significant shareholder value through selected acquisitions.
“Our strategy of pursuing international diversification and scale through leveraging our proprietary technology, is more appropriate today than at any time in our history.
“The organic growth opportunity is equally exciting and we are confident of delivering further growth in 2017.”
International Federation of Poker flops in SportAccord bid
The International Federation of Poker (IFP) global governing body failed to become a member of SportAccord, the umbrella organization for Olympic and non-Olympic governing bodies.
The organization had made an application before the 2017 edition of the SportAccord Convention that will be held from April 2-7 in Aarhus, Denmark.
During the General Assembly at the April event, SportAccord members will vote to decide on entry for other federations into the organization.
The IFP administers sports poker and endorses poker and its Match Poker variation as a skill game and a mind sport.
However, in a statement put out by Insidethegames.com, IFP president Patrick Nally made it clear that SportAccord has not accept the organization’s application at the upcoming convention.
“Naturally it was disappointing to receive such news, both for me and - more importantly - for players and officials representing our 60 National Federations around the world who have collectively worked very hard, over a number of years, in our quest for SportAccord membership,” Nally said.
“We have always believed that acceptance by SportAccord into the global sports family would assist us in promoting match poker, the team-based, non-gambling variant of the world's most popular card game, worldwide.
“It is important to state how grateful IFP is for the support we have received from SportAccord president Patrick Baumann, the SportAccord Membership Commission and the SportAccord Council to date, and for their promise of continued support as we look to enhance our application.
“I look forward to attending the meeting for SportAccord applicants due to be held in Lausanne later this year and to our application being considered by the membership at a future General Assembly.”
The World Armwrestling Federation and Rugby League International Federation are also believed to have had membership applications turned down.
Playtech games live in regulated Czech Republic online market
Playtech casino games can now be accessed in the Czech Republic after content and software supplier’s deal with Fortuna, the country’s first licensed online gambling operator.
Last week, Fortuna secured the first-ever licence to operate online technical games from the Czech Ministry of Finance. Fortuna is now up and running with a bunch of Playtech’s online and mobile slot and table game content.
After joining forces in August 2016, the two firms have launched products in Romania and intend to expand their reach to countries like Poland and Slovakia in the future.
“We are delighted to be the first supplier to go live in the Czech Republic with our pioneering omni-channel platform technology and best-performing casino content and to further expand Fortuna’s offering in this newly regulated market,”said Shimon Akad, Playtech’s chief operating officer.
“We pride ourselves on being leaders in regulated markets and today’s announcement highlights just how we always aim to lead the way.”
At the moment, brands wanting to enter the online gambling market of Czech Republic need to secure a licence or face prosecution from the national regulator and police.
Companies will also have to adhere to rigid licensing processes, which includes a new tax rate of 23% on gross gaming revenue for sports betting and lotteries, and 35% for RNG casino games, on top of a standard 19% corporate tax rate.
David Vanek, general manager, Fortuna CZ, added: “We are proud to be the first company in the Czech Republic to have met the demanding conditions defined by the new legislation and to be granted a licence as a result.
"Broadening our product range to complement our sports betting offering is a major priority. We are therefore very pleased that our customers will be the first to play online roulette and casino games in full compliance with Czech legislation.
“Granting this licence means that Fortuna has become the first multi-product (sports and games) gaming company in the Czech market. Our new online casino and aggressive games expansion is crucial to growing the business and means the Fortuna product offering will be comparable to some of Europe’s largest operators.
"Thanks to our close co-operation with Playtech, the industry’s leading online gaming technology company, we have a comprehensive range of best-performing products and the best gaming experience to offer our players.”
Ladbrokes loses HMRC appeal, asked to pay £71m tax charge
Ladbrokes has lost an appeal to HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) in the UK to reverse a ruling over a bogus tax avoidance scheme and has ordered to pay £71 million (€83.7 million/$88.4 million).
Last year, HMRC won a judgment against Ladbrokes worth £54 million after the company admitted to arranging a deal between two of its divisions, resulting in a share price drop in one of the operations. This allowed the other division to claim a tax loss.
The deal, supervised by Deloitte, exploited a 2008 tax loophole that related to loans between companies and third parties.
HMRC initiated legal action against the 100 firms that gained due to this loophole, including Ladbrokes, which appealed against the initial ruling and claimed no wrongdoing on its part.
However, the Upper Tribunal of the Tax and Chancery Chamber did not agree with the claim and dismissed each of Ladbrokes’ three arguments, directing the company to pay HMRC a total of £71 million.
HMRC compliance director Jennie Granger said:
“Ladbrokes would have been better off just paying the tax but instead they pursued this lengthy legal dispute with HMRC.
“Avoidance schemes like this just don’t work and HMRC will always take firm action against them.
“The bookie gambled and lost when the odds of success could not have been lower.”