Leeds-based online gambling operator Sky Betting & Gaming (SBG) has applied for a Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) license ahead of the UK operator’s planned launch into Germany’s online sports betting market.
On Wednesday, the MGA announced that it had received SBG’s formal application for a local sports betting license. SBG, which already holds licenses issued by regulatory agencies in the UK, Alderney and Italy, plans to begin accepting German sports bettors via SkyBet.de later this year.
MGA exec chairman Joseph Cuschieri said SBG’s interest in a Malta license reflected the high value that “world leading brands” like SBG place on Malta’s “reputation as a gaming jurisdiction.”
The MGA also announced regulatory data covering the first four months of 2017, during which the MGA received 59 applications, representing a 79% increase over the same period last year. The MGA issued 36 licenses over this span, one-third more than last year.
The number of administrative fines the MGA has levied against its licensees is also up from nine last year to 14 so far in 2017, while the number of terminated or cancelled licenses fell from 20 to 12.
The MGA has so far suspended only one license, down from two last year, although the MGA also suspended the license of Sunderlands Online Limited on May 19. The MGA declined to explain why Sunderlands was taken to the woodshed, saying it didn’t want to “compromise any investigations that may need to be performed” in the wake of the suspension.
PURPLE LOUNGE LEFT CUSTOMERS BLACK & BLUE Meanwhile, the long dead ghost of a former Malta-licensed site has been reanimated by an investor looking to crowd-fund a class action lawsuit. Steven Egan, a former “substantial” shareholder in the AIM-listed Media Corporation Plc, is looking to raise £1k via Crowdjustice.com to fund a lawsuit over the demise of online gambling site Purple Lounge.
Purple Lounge, which was licensed by the MGA’s predecessor, the Lotteries and Gaming Authority (LGA), shut down abruptly in 2012, taking the deposited funds of thousands of players with it. Egan claims “millions of pounds” was stolen by Media Corp’s former directors and he’s hoping to raise enough cash to fund a civil action to compel the thieves to fork over their ill-gotten gains.
Sadly, Egan’s campaign has so far raised exactly £0, but the deadline for contributing isn’t until June 29, so lots of time remains for Purple Lounge’s former customers to throw good money after bad.
Amanda Petersen wants people to know that having metastatic breast cancer doesn’t define her. The 40-year-old West Virginia native is also a wife, a stepmother, a proud aunt and an advocate who works to support other people with terminal cancer. Part of the freedom to define herself, she said, has come from knowing she has her family’s support and access to the medical treatment she needs.
“I feel like a spoiled brat, frankly, in terms of how lucky I have been, and I am 1000 percent aware of it,” Petersen told ABC News. “I also know that I’m not the everyday case. Not everybody has that.”
But on Thursday, as she watched President Donald Trump and House Republican leaders celebrate the passage of the American Health Care Act in the House, she said she was taken aback.
“Honestly, my reaction was total confusion,” Petersen said. “I had no idea what changed and how we got people to change their votes [in the House] who had voted against it before. Plus, a major change had to do with folks with pre-existing conditions, and it’s not a favorable change.”
The bill is currently in the Senate, where it is likely to be rewritten in some part. The revised bill will then be sent back to the House for approval, and both chambers will need to agree on a single, final version before it heads to the president’s desk. Petersen said the whole process of repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act has made the future of health care for people like her uncertain.
After she was diagnosed with stage II breast cancer at the age of 34, she said she moved in with her parents to save money for her care. When she wasn’t able to continue working at West Virginia University because of her health, the campus’ “catastrophic leave” policy — which allowed her to keep earning a salary for a year thanks to paid time off donated by her colleagues — was a blessing, she said.
She said she currently relies on disability payments and private insurance through her husband’s job at a local newspaper. The couple pays a premium of about $450 per month to insure themselves and their stepdaughter.
How premiums for people with pre-existing conditions could skyrocket
Petersen isn’t the only person with a pre-existing condition who is worried about the effects of the AHCA. A Center for American Progress analysis of data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, published last month, estimated what yearly premium surcharges might look like for people with pre-existing conditions. CAP found that companies could charge metastatic patients premium surcharges of as much as $142,650 per year.
Sam Berger, a senior policy adviser at the Center for American Progress, co-authored the group’s analysis.
“In addition to the widespread damage this bill would cause for millions of people, it would also have significant negative effects for those with metastatic cancer specifically,” Berger told ABC News via email. “If a state chose to waive protections for pre-existing conditions, then any individual with a two-month gap in coverage, including any of the 24 million people who would lose coverage under the AHCA [as estimated for a previous draft by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office], could be charged a higher rate based on their cost of care.”
The change in protections for people with pre-existing conditions comes from what is known as the McArthur Amendment to the AHCA. Under the provision, states could be granted waivers to administer their own high-risk pools, as long as they can prove their approach will lower costs or increase coverage. People with pre-existing conditions could also be charged more if they have a gap in coverage of 63 days or longer.
“In a state that adopted a waiver, people would with pre-existing conditions like a history of cancer could be charged more with no limit in premiums,” Aviva Aron-Dine, senior fellow and counselor at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, told ABC News.
CAP’s analysis represents what people would pay if insurance companies charged them the “full expected cost of their pre-existing condition,” Aron-Dine explained.
And while companies couldn’t write off people as “uninsurable,” as they did before the 2010 passage of the Affordable Care Act, they could make costs so high that people couldn’t afford it, Aron-Dine said.
“Under the House bill, insurers would not be able to deny coverage. So what they would do instead is offer people coverage with a premium with which there is no way they would take up coverage,” she said. “I think people might well be offered premiums that are in no way realistic.”
The AHCA could also allow employer insurance plans like Petersen’s husband’s to reinstate pre-Obamacare caps on coverage, leading to higher out-of-pocket expenses.
“What the waivers under this plan would do is let employer plans go back to putting annual and lifetime limits on coverage. So for people with cancer, that often meant they hit their annual or lifetime limits over the course of a year of treatment and could face medical bankruptcy even if they were insured,” Aron-Dine said.
The uncertain futures of Medicare and Medicaid
Petersen said she was the family’s breadwinner before her illness forced her to leave work. Increased out-of-pocket costs could put an even greater strain on her family’s ability to pay for her care, she said. She estimated that she has already spent $6,000 out of pocket this year for her treatment. If the House bill passes the Senate in its current form and insurance companies are able to charge premium surcharges like the ones in CAP’s analysis, they would be more than double her household income, Petersen added.
The uncertainty of how she would pay for her treatment in the future, and how others with less income would be able to get by, leaves her feeling frustrated, she added.
“I try to stay objective and look at these things objectively, but this is gross to me,” Petersen said. “It’s about politics. It’s about just being able to say they undid something that [former President Barack] Obama did. And I truly don’t believe it’s the right thing for our country.”
For metastatic patients who rely on Medicare, the possible impact of the AHCA is less clear.
Beth Fairchild, president and director of outreach at METAvivor, was 34 and working as a self-employed artist when she was diagnosed with de novo metastatic breast cancer.
“I went in to have a routine hysterectomy,” Fairchild told ABC News. “When I woke up from my surgery, they told me that I had stage IV breast cancer that had metastasized to my ovaries, and, as we later found out, also to my liver and my bones.”
“It was kind of surreal — like I was watching a movie, like the news couldn’t possibly have been about me,” she said.
Just a few months before her May 2014 diagnosis, Fairchild had purchased health insurance through the marketplace under the Affordable Care Act. She said she paid about $300 per month.
In 2016, when she became too sick to work and worried how she would afford insurance, Fairchild said she went on disability.
“Once I realized that Donald Trump had won the election, I signed up for disability. Because I knew his goal was to make the ACA go away,” Fairchild said. “Because that’s where I had bought my health insurance, I thought that I had to sign up for disability or else I was not going to be able to have insurance.”
Fairchild said she is now on Medicare, and she pays an additional $800 per month for supplemental insurance.
“I’m so glad I did that, because even though I am paying more out-of-pocket now, it sure beats the offer that’s on the table for people with metastatic cancer or any chronic, catastrophic disease,” she said.
For Medicare patients like Fairchild, the House version of the AHCA changes little at the moment, according to Tricia Neuman, senior vice president and director of the Medicare policy program at the Kaiser Family Foundation.
“The American Health Care Act would actually retain most of the Medicare provisions that were in the ACA,” Neuman told ABC News.
But patients who rely on Medicare could see changes in the future, depending on how the program that currently serves an average of 57.7 million people per month is financed.
“There is a provision that was put in the ACA that strengthens the Medicare program’s financing by imposing a payroll tax surcharge on high earners, and the proposal to repeal and replace Obamacare would repeal this provision beginning in 2023. It’s not clear yet what the effect will be, but it does have the effect of weakening Medicare’s finances,” Neuman said.
For others who may eventually need to rely on both Medicaid and Medicare to pay for their care, the impact of the AHCA could be greater.
“There is an intersection between Medicare and Medicaid,” Neuman said. “So while this bill doesn’t directly affect Medicare benefits and coverage so much, it does include significant reductions and change in structure for Medicaid. And one in five people on Medicare relies on Medicaid for additional support.”
Obamacare was a ‘get-out-of-jail-free card’
The uncertainty of how her benefits will change over time adds to the stress of dealing with a terminal illness, Fairchild said.
“People who are dealing with these terminal illnesses have enough on their plate. You’re already dealing with the emotional impact on your family, the financial toxicity of having cancer and on top of that, you have to worry about, ‘Can I even afford treatment, can I even afford insurance?’ That’s ridiculous,” Fairchild said.
The feeling that the AHCA is taking away benefits that were hard-won is disheartening, she added.
“This country, under the Obama administration, handed people like me a get-out-of-jail-free card with the ACA. They said, ‘Yes, what you’re going through sucks, but we’re going to make it so it doesn’t have to be so terrible.’ And the worst part is now they’re ripping that away,” Fairchild said.
Aron-Dine said reforming the ACA should be about progress.
“I think the standard for a final bill should be that it moves us forward in terms of ensuring that people can get access to quality and affordable health care,” Aron-Dine said. “In practice, I think that would mean going back to the drawing board on this bill because these are not incidental features.”
Petersen said she wants lawmakers to remember that metastatic patients deserve to have a future, too.
“A stage IV diagnosis does not make a person a lost cause, especially at this time in the evolution of medicine where technological advances are occurring daily,” Petersen said. “I am not a lost cause.”
Struggling online lottery operator 500.com has made another attempt to diversify its business model by acquiring the parent company of Nordic-facing online gambling operator Multilotto.com.
On Friday, the Nasdaq-listed 500.com announced that it had reached a deal to acquire 93% of the outstanding shares of The Multi Group Ltd, the Malta-headquartered parent of Multilotto. The deal, which is worth €49.8m (US $56m), is subject to regulatory approval.
Multilotto offers lottery betting and online casino services via a Curacao eGaming license. Multi Group also holds online licenses issued by Maltese, UK and Irish gaming regulators. In 2015, the company reported revenue of €4m and earnings of €1.2m, while 2016’s revenue rose to €10m and earnings improved to €5.7m.
500.com stressed that Multilotto doesn’t accept customers from China, including Hong Kong and Macau. Until China imposed its ‘temporary’ suspension of online lottery sales in March 2015, the Shenzhen-based 500.com was one of two companies authorized to take part in a ‘pilot program’ of online sports lottery sales in China.
The suspension has wrought havoc on 500.com’s bottom line. The company reported a net loss of $52.3m in 2016 and announced earlier this month that it had lost a further $9.3m in Q1 2017. Last November, 500.com acquired social poker operator Qufan Internet Technology Inc. in a bid to keep the lights on while it awaits Beijing’s approval to recommence online lottery sales.
China’s Ministry of Finance has been conducting field trials of mobile lottery sales in a number of provinces, and recently concluded a two-year trial in Jiangsu province. The government reportedly concluded that the trial demonstrated no significant risk but when that conclusion might translate to a market-wide restart of online lottery activity remains anyone’s guess.
The Ministry reported April’s overall lottery sales were up 9.6% to RMB 38.2b ($5.55b), with sports lottery sales rising 15.2% to RMB 19.5b and welfare lottery up 4.3% to RMB 18.7b. For the year-to-date, overall sales are up 6.2% to RMB 133.5b.
Kenya’s sports betting operators are breathing a sigh of relief after legislators rejected plans to dramatically hike betting taxes, while retaining hikes for other gaming operators.
On Thursday, Kenya’s parliament voted down plans to hike betting operators’ tax obligations from their original 7.5% of revenue to 50%. The proposed change to the Betting, Lotteries and Gaming Act was part of the government’s Finance Bill, which sought to impose a uniform 50% tax on all gambling revenue, be it betting, lotteries or gaming.
Treasury Secretary Henry Rotich said the proposed tax hikes were intended as both a revenue generator for the government as well as a means of discouraging gamblers from going overboard. But betting operator SportPesa mounted a legal challenge based on the argument that the hikes, which were on top of operators’ corporate tax obligations, were unconstitutional.
On Wednesday, members of the Assembly’s Finance Committee rejected the tax on betting operators, issuing a report that said the rate was “punitive enough to discourage such activities.” The report was met with opposition from government representatives, who urged Assembly members to stick with Rotich’s plan for the good of society.
On Thursday, MPs voted in favor of an amendment to the Finance Bill that preserved the original 7.5% rate for betting operators. However, betting was the only vertical offered this exemption, as the new 50% tax rate will still be imposed on gaming, lottery and prize competition revenue. MPs have reportedly agreed to revisit the issue of whether to maintain the 50% rate on the other verticals next week after more discussion with the Treasury and stakeholders.
KENYAN FOOTBALL LOOKS GIFT HORSE IN THE MOUTH The government’s proposed tax hike had been staunchly opposed by Kenya’s sporting bodies, which have come to rely on lucrative sponsorship deals with betting operators. That said, the Kenyan Premier League (KPL) appears poised to bite the hand that feeds, based on its belief that its sponsorship deals left a lot of money on the table.
Earlier this month, SportPesa inked a shirt sponsorship with English Premier League side Everton FC. The deal, said to be worth up to £9.6m per year, was touted by the team as the biggest commercial partnership in the club’s history.
SportPesa also sponsors the KPL, as well as several individual KPL clubs. But news of the Everton deal prompted some KPL execs to believe that they’d sold themselves short when negotiating their own SportPesa deals. The KPL’s Bob Munro spoke for a number of execs when he told Allafrica.com that the league “will have to renegotiate afresh when this contract ends.”
SportPesa CEO Ronald Karauri pointed out that the company’s UK division is completely autonomous and needs to up its visibility to compete with the major UK betting operators. Karauri said he “cannot stop [the UK division] from putting in money where they feel they will be able to achieve this.”
Twitter users concerned about the bill passed the House to repeal and replace Obamacare are sharing their personal health stories on Twitter under the hashtag #IamaPreexistingCondition.
The hashtag started to trend hours after Republicans in the House narrowly pushed through the American Health Care Act, which would drastically remake health care in the U.S.
By midday Friday ET, it had trended worldwide with about 146,000 tweets so far.
Some celebrities joined in.
The posts are drawing attention to the wide range of people who could potentially face sharply higher insurance premiums if the AHCA, also dubbed Trumpcare, is passed by the Senate and signed by President Trump.
Under the House bill, insurers could not deny coverage to people with pre-existing health conditions. However, the bill would give states the option of seeking waivers to allow insurance companies to charge higher premiums to people who are sick or have a pre-existing condition.
To illustrate concerns over the bill, Twitter users shared pictures of themselves or family members naming their medical conditions.
ABC News’ Caterina Andreano contributed to this story.
Los Angeles, CA, May 22: Ucraft, a subscription-based website builder and a BetConstruct investee, has just rolled out a White Label solution that is designed for all individuals and companies that want to venture into the website-building business.
Ucraft is a prominent website builder that enables users to create professional websites without any coding knowledge. With Ucraft’s success on both consumer and business market, the next logical step was the release of the White Label solution.
Ucraft’s White Label website builder gives all interested parties the opportunity to acquire an out-of-the-box solution and just add their own website templates. This business model is suitable for everyone looking to create websites either for clients or for their own projects. Pricing and plans will be decided by the buyer of the White Label software. This is a great offer for both businesses and individuals because it allows them to brand the solution with their own logo and colors.
This is a new market that Ucraft decided to conquer, which demonstrates that as a BetConstruct investee they are always proactive when it comes to strategy and ability to tackle competition.
To learn more, please follow the link: https://www.ucraft.com/
The annual Gaming in Holland Conference & Expo is THE place to find out what is happening in the Dutch gaming market; and to meet with local and international executives, industry experts, and service providers.
Here are six more reasons why you can’t afford to miss this event:
1. Conference visitors will be among the very first to hear details of the secondary legislation accompanying the remote gaming bill under consideration by the Dutch Senate. Policy officials from the Ministry of Security and Justice will discuss current regulatory proposals (tech standards, responsible gaming, etc.), followed by a presentation of Gaming Authority CEO Marja Appelman on remote gaming licensing.
2. The Gaming in Holland Conference & Expo serves the entire gaming industry across all channels and product verticals and is of interest to the land-based, online, and lottery sectors. Representatives of various trade associations, including VAN, Speel Verantwoord, and the International Masters of Gaming Law, will both attend and contribute to the proceedings.
3. This year’s conference will feature a free Expo. Exhibitors include Novomatic, Ezugi, CDDN, JC Decaux, NMi, Leaseweb, and Screen Impact. There will also be an Affiliate Zone, where Dutch affiliates and operators may meet in anticipation of the opening of the Dutch market. Following the example of both ICE and EiG, there will also be opportunities to meet up at the Microgaming Bar. The Expo is free to attend for qualified gaming industry professionals. Sign up for the Expo here.
4. The Dutch casino market is currently undergoing a significant transition. State-owned Holland Casino is likely to be privatized in 2018. Hear all about the company’s vision for the future from Holland Casino CEO Erwin van Lambaart himself.
5. Stay informed of the latest facts & figures. According to H2 Gambling Capital, the Dutch iGaming market currently generates an estimated €250m in GGR annually. Around one million players wager online. Forty to fifty operators are expected to eventually enter the Dutch regulated online market. If you work for an operator in Legal, Compliance or Business Development, this event is a must.
6. The Gaming in Holland Conference & Expo is an ideal event for networking and connecting to local knowledge. With virtually all local and international Netherlands-focused industry professionals in one place, there will be almost endless networking opportunities during coffee breaks, lunches, as well as the official conference dinner.
Check out our full conference agenda and book your place before it is too late!
I look forward to seeing you in Amsterdam. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me: email@example.com
A former K-pop singer has been sentenced to a year in South Korean prison for blowing over $3m on an illegal online gambling site and lying to the authorities investigating his activity.
On Monday, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported that the Seoul Southern District Court had sentenced Jung Jin Woo (pictured), a member of the pop group M2M who got his big break via an Idol-style television program, to one year in prison for illegal gambling.
Court documents indicate that the 32-year-old Jung was originally cautioned over his gambling activity way back in 2007, but the warning didn’t take. Jung was again caught gambling online in 2014, but he convinced his mother’s boyfriend to claim that he’d been the one gambling on Jung’s online account. Mom’s squeeze was eventually slapped with a KRW 1m (US $900) fine.
But Jung’s close call failed to dissuade him from continuing to gamble online, and he even acted as a promoter for the unidentified online sports betting site from August to September last year.
Eventually, the authorities closed in on Jung, who reportedly spent a whopping KRW 3.5b ($3.1m) in 1,500 separate transactions with the betting site over the years. Jung later told the authorities that he gambled online to make money to maintain the flash life of a celebrity that his fans had come to expect.
Jung eventually copped to his misdeeds, but in doing so, revealed the subterfuge involving his step-father. The court claimed this deception played a major role in Jung’s sentence. Worse, step-dad’s false confession earned him a sentence of two years of probation.
Jung isn’t the first South Korean celebrity to fall afoul of the country’s strict anti-gambling laws. Numerous K-pop stars, TV personalities and sports figures have all been forced to do the bow of shame after getting caught engaging in illegal gambling activity.
Incredibly, South Korea’s anti-gambling laws don’t even stop at the water’s edge. South Korean citizens are subject to prosecution even if they’re gambling in a jurisdiction in which such activity is completely above board, although prosecutions tend to be reserved for serious spenders, as leniency can be shown to those who gamble “just for momentary pleasure.”
With summer approaching, Florida health officials are taking steps to prevent another outbreak of the Zika virus. State and local officials have been monitoring for the virus in both humans, who could pick up the virus abroad, and in mosquitoes, which could transmit the illness to humans.
Officials from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services said Thursday that no Zika virus has been detected in any mosquitoes tested this year. Since last year’s outbreak began, they have tested 90,000 individual mosquitoes which represent 6,500 mosquito pools. There is no longer an ongoing outbreak in Florida.
“As we enter into the warmer months, it’s especially important that Florida communities are equipped with the knowledge and resources they need for their Zika-related response efforts,” said Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam said in a statement Thursday.
Last year, officials in southern Florida had to combat outbreaks of locally transmitted Zika virus in four areas in or near Miami. In 2016, a total of 1,118 people in Florida were diagnosed with the disease.
This year, there have been no outbreaks of locally transmitted Zika, although 33 people have been diagnosed with the disease in Florida after being infected outside the U.S. Zika virus usually causes mild symptoms in adults, but it has been linked to serious birth defects, including microcephaly and other brain defects, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The virus is spread primarily via the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which been called a “cockroach” mosquito for its ability to live indoors and reproduce even in tiny pools of water. Mosquitoes like the Aedes aegypti are the primary way the Zika virus is spread, although the disease can also be transmitted through sexual contact.
The Aedes aegypti mosquito has also been found to be resistant to pesticide spraying. Last year, after locally transmitted Zika was spread in Miami, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the initial mosquito-control measures were not effective.
“Aggressive mosquito-control measures don’t seem to be working as well as we would have liked,” now-former CDC Director Tom Frieden told reporters at the time.
Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, said in an interview during the Zika outbreak last year that the Aedes aegypti mosquito is especially hard to combat for multiple reasons.
“There’s a history of Aedes being relatively resistant to conventional pesticide,” Schaffner told ABC News. “When we say they’re resistant that means the mosquito inherently can shrug off the pesticide.”
All outbreaks of locally transmitted Zika in Florida were declared over by last December, six months after the first outbreak was reported in July.
At G2E Asia, Spintec is presenting two product lines. Karma line, already proven in Macao and well-known for its compact solutions and a completely new product line Aura, which is perfect for multigame amphitheatre setups. Both product lines offer variety of games (Roulette, Sic Bo, Craps, Baccarat) in different setups with any technological solution (automated, virtual, live).
Each year Spintec take an opportunity to have an Asian launch of new products at G2E Asia. After a successful introduction at ICE, a new product line Aura is presented for the first time in Asia. With a revolutionary new approach in design, Aura aims to have the most comfortable and ergonomic gaming terminal on the market. These gaming terminals are perfect for amphitheater setups, combining live, automated and virtual games in one multigame experience. “As part of a multigame solution, we can add a stand-alone multigame wall. This is a stand-alone display solution that can be put in any interior, independent from any back-wall on which monitors are usually installed. The multigame wall has already been installed at Perla Hit Casino in Slovenia with excellent feedback from the players and from the casino managers. Players can choose from different virtual dealers and enjoy different virtual games in a well-known HD quality,” explains Primoz Krsevan, Regional Sales Manager at Spintec.
Spintec’s core product line Karma consist of compact electronic table games solutions and is presented at G2E Asia with three products: automated Roulette, automated Sic Bo and Craps, stand-alone virtual playing station with wider monitor and multigame option for a player to choose between virtual Roulette, virtual Baccarat and virtual Sic Bo.
All products hold the known Spintec’s promise of longer gaming session gained through comfort of the player, proprietary technical solutions and psychological knowledge of the player.