BetConstruct strikes a deal with Royal Panda

June 30, London, UK: Award-winning technology provider BetConstruct has signed an agreement to provide its industry-leading sportsbook solution to UK and Maltese online operator Royal Panda.

BetConstruct strikes a deal with Royal PandaThe partnership with BetConstruct coincides with Royal Panda announcing a three-year shirt sponsorship deal with London-based Championship side Queens Park Rangers Football Club. The new partnership will allow Royal Panda to offer its users a unique sports betting experience, with up to 30,000 live events per month. There will also be a number of matchless betting offers available throughout the football season on the Royal Panda website.

George Voyatzis, Commercial Director at BetConstruct commented: “We are delighted to have partnered with Royal Panda to launch its sportsbook ahead of the start of the European football seasons.  Royal Panda is very likely the fastest growing independent casino brand in Europe. This partnership will allow Royal Panda to offer our market-leading sportsbook solution in addition to their established online casino in the UK and Europe and emerging markets.”

“Royal Panda is an exciting and innovative company and have grown exponentially over the past three years. They have a number of exciting initiatives that will see them take on the established sports betting operators.”

Mark Podd, CEO of Royal Panda: “At Royal Panda, we like to do things properly, especially when it comes to selecting our strategic partners. BetConstruct’s combination of a great platform, comprehensive selection of bets and first-rate support made them a logical choice for our grand entrance into the exciting world of sports betting. Thanks to this new partnership, we’ve been able to draw up some seriously exciting plans that we’re sure our players are going to love. We’re delighted to be able to offer odds on Premier League and Championship matches – and all other major sports – worldwide.”

About Royal Panda

Hosting sports betting, table games and a huge range of slots, Royal Panda is one of the UK’s fastest growing online casinos.
Established in 2014, Royal Panda has quickly gained a strong reputation for its quality of online casino games, excellent customer service, and entertaining promotions.

In addition to sports betting on over 140 major sports, and a wide variety of top casino games, players can also enjoy an exclusive live casino with popular games such as Royal Panda Live Roulette and Royal Panda Blackjack. New players are offered a welcome bonus of 100% up to £100 on their first deposit.

About BetConstruct

BetConstruct is an award-winning developer and provider of online and land-based gaming solutions with development, sales and service centres in 14 countries.

BetConstruct’s innovative and proven offerings include an extensive range of market-leading products and services, including Sportsbook, eSports, Sports Data Solutions, Retail Betting Shop Solutions, RNG Casino Suite & Live Dealer Casino, VR Casino, Poker, Skill Games, Fantasy Sports, Social Platform and more.

All partners benefit from the BetConstruct Spring platform with its powerful back office tools and all-inclusive services that empower operators’ growth and help contain their costs. From stand-alone set up to turn-key and white label solutions, BetConstruct offers its partners unfettered opportunity to succeed.


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Lottery betting site Lottoland fined £150k for misleading consumers

uk-gambling-commission-lottoland-fine-misleading-consumersThe UK’s gambling regulator has slapped a £150k fine on lottery betting operator Lottoland for misleading customers as to what they were betting on.

On Tuesday, the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) announced it would require Lottoland to make a £150k contribution to socially responsible causes after determining that the operator “did not make it clear to consumers that they were betting on the outcome of a lottery draw and not actually taking part in a lottery.” Lottoland was dinged a further £9k to cover the costs of the UKGC probe.

In February, the UK Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) spanked Lottoland over a radio advert that the watchdog felt misled consumers as to whether they were in fact directly participating in a EuroMillions lottery draw rather than betting on a lottery outcome.

The UKGC says its own investigation found that Lottoland’s website, social media and third-party marketing promotions “failed to make it clear” that customers were in fact betting on the outcome of a lottery draw.

UKGC enforcement and intelligence director Richard Watson said Lottoland had “used ambiguous terminology in their marketing and advertising, which was misleading.” Watson said this ambiguity was “not acceptable and the £150k penalty package reflects the seriousness of Lottoland’s failures.” Watson urged other gambling operators to learn from Lottoland’s mistakes.

As stated above, Lottoland allows customers to bet on the outcome of lottery draws, including the EuroMillions partnership. This has earned the ire of National Lottery operator Camelot, who has complained about Lottoland offering punters a more cost-effective way to pursue a EuroMillions jackpot.

This March, the UK government announced it was reviewing whether to prohibit “third party betting on non-UK EuroMillions draws.” While lottery betting accounts for only a small slice of overall lottery spending, the government wondered if these options were “resulting in customer confusion” as to whether a portion of their spending was going to socially responsible causes.

The UKGC has been clamping down on its online gambling licensees’ marketing activities, recently announcing a tandem probe with the UK Competition and Markets Authority that found fault with five operators – including Ladbrokes and William Hill – for potentially violating consumer law via misleading sign-up offers.


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Drug shows promise against vision-robbing disease in seniors

An experimental drug is showing promise against an untreatable eye disease that blinds older adults — and intriguingly, it seems to work in patients who carry a particular gene flaw that fuels the damage to their vision.

Age-related macular degeneration, or AMD, is the leading cause of vision loss among seniors, gradually eroding crucial central vision. There are different forms but more than 5 million people worldwide, and a million in the U.S., have an advanced type of so-called “dry” macular degeneration that has no treatment. First patients may notice blurriness when they look straight ahead. Eventually many develop blank spots, becoming legally blind.

“These are seniors who are entering their golden years and now they’ve lost the ability to read, watch television, see their loved ones,” said Dr. Rahul Khurana, a retina specialist and spokesman for the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

The experimental drug, lampalizumab, aims to slow the destruction of light-sensing cells in the retina, creeping lesions that characterize the stage of dry AMD called “geographic atrophy.” When those cells die, they can’t grow back — the vision loss is irreversible.


In an 18-month study of 129 patients, monthly eye injections of the drug modestly slowed worsening of the disease when compared with patients given dummy shots. What’s exciting for scientists came next, when researchers from drugmaker Genentech Inc. took a closer look at exactly who was being helped.

It turns out that nearly 6 in 10 of the study’s participants carry a gene variation that makes part of the immune system go awry — a genetic flaw already known to increase the risk of getting macular degeneration in the first place.

Those are the only patients who appeared to benefit from the drug; they had 44 percent less eye damage than the untreated patients, the Genentech team reported Wednesday in the journal Science Translational Medicine. While the study is too small to prove if lampalizumab really helps maintain vision, that’s a bigger difference than the overall results suggested.


One arm of the immune system, the complement pathway, helps fight infections by attracting immune cells to attack bacteria.

Normally, there’s a barrier that keeps such cells away from the retina. But that barrier can break down with age, opening sensitive eye cells to harm from the spillover, explained Genentech immunologist Menno van Lookeren Campagne.

Now for the gene connection: Previous studies have linked macular degeneration to gene variations that remove some of that pathway’s natural brakes, so it can become too active.

The hypothesis: Genentech’s drug, lampalizumab, essentially offers a backup method for tamping down the immune reaction. An antibody, it works by inhibiting a particular enzyme named factor D that helps power the immune pathway.

“We try to reinsert the braking ability,” said study lead author Brian Yaspan, a Genentech senior scientist.


Wednesday’s study detected no safety concerns, clearing the way for Genentech and its parent company Roche to open two large-scale studies that aim to prove if the drug works. Results are expected later this year.

The current research sheds light on how that long-suspected immune culprit might be working, and is “the first suggestion that there may be a treatment for geographic atrophy coming up in the future,” said National Eye Institute retina specialist Dr. Wai Wong, who wasn’t involved in the study.

“It’s a very, very exciting study,” said Khurana, the ophthalmologist association’s spokesman, who also wasn’t part of the research. “From the basic science perspective, it makes a lot of sense.”


Macular degeneration tends to occur after age 60, but it sometimes strikes earlier. According to the National Eye Institute, it’s less common in people who exercise regularly, avoid smoking, and eat a diet high in green leafy vegetables and fish.

Symptoms often aren’t noticeable early on. But several eye tests can detect signs of macular degeneration, including a dilated eye exam and a tool called an Amsler grid with straight lines that may look wavy if the macula, the center of the retina, is harmed.

Macular degeneration patients often are advised to take certain vitamin combinations that may help stave off advanced disease. And it’s important for patients to know what type they have. While there’s no treatment for the advanced dry form, the “wet” form occurs when leaky blood vessels grow under the retina — and there are several therapies that can help those patients preserve vision.


This Associated Press series was produced in partnership with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

This story is part of Genetic Frontiers, AP’s ongoing exploration of the rapidly growing understanding of DNA and new attempts to manipulate it.

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Google, Lakestar lead $40M funding for bitcoin start-up Blockchain

London-based bitcoin currency service provider Blockchain has raised $40 million of fresh funding, the largest Series B raised so far in 2017.

Google, Lakestar lead $40M funding for bitcoin start-up BlockchainThe financing round was led by venture capital firm Lakestar and Google’s investment arm GV. Nokota Management, Digital Currency Group and Blockchain’s existing investors Lightspeed Venture Partners, Mosaic Venture Partners, Prudence Holdings, Virgin and billionaire Richard Branson also participated in Thursday’s funding round.

The recent funding brings Blockchain’s total capital raised to over $70 million, CEO and co-founder Peter Smith said in a statement. It is also the largest investment that the fintech space has seen since Brexit, although it fell short of the $55 million that blockchain start-up Ripple managed to raise from big banks in 2016.

The freshly raised funds will go towards supporting Blockchain’s global expansion plans, as well as further research and development for its product. Founded in 2011, Blockchain provides digital currency wallets and analytical tools for bitcoin’s underlying system.

“Our mission ‘to create an open, accessible, and fair financial future for billions across the globe, one piece of software at a time’ is a lofty one. This capital moves us one step closer to delivering on that mission and will ensure we can take a very long-term view,” Smith said.

The investment comes at a time that digital currencies, particularly bitcoin, are receiving increased interest among traders. Bitcoin, which has been on a bull run towards new price highs since the start of the year, recently hit a record high of $3,000.

“The 14 trillion dollar financial services industry hasn’t meaningfully changed in over a century,” said Smith. “Blockchain is on a mission to create a financial system that is faster, more inclusive, and radically different than the status quo.”

Smith made headline early this when he, along with Snapchat’s first inventor Jeremy Liew, forecast bitcoin to ‘realistically reach $500,000 by 2030.”

“Expats sending money home have found in bitcoin an inexpensive alternative, and we assume that the percentage of bitcoin-based remittances will sharply increase with greater bitcoin awareness,” the two told Business Insider.

Current bitcoin price

Bitcoin still has a long way to go before hitting $500,000. For now, the digital currency is trading at $2,706.50.


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What do the customers of online poker rooms need and want?

Inspired by Seth Godin’s Marketing Seminar, Lee Davy shares his thoughts on the needs and wants of online poker players.

I used to wake up at the crack of dawn, and play four tables of Rush Poker before driving into work for 12-hours of drudgery.

How times change.

These days, I wake up at the crack of dawn and feed my nine-month-old daughter before sitting in my office writing things like this.

I liked playing Rush Poker.

What do the customers of online poker rooms need and want?I love feeding my daughter.

Nine-month-old children are relatively easy to feed. Yes, they get more up their nose than in their mouth if you are practising baby led feeding, but when it comes to choice, there is no menu. She eats anything, including doormats drenched in cat urine, cheap detergent, and Brussel sprouts.

In time, she will become more complicated. The marketers of the world will bombard her with 10,000 subliminal messages per day, and she will go from being uncomplicated to a living nightmare.

And one day, she will wake up at the crack of dawn and may decide to play four tables of Rush Poker.

It depends on her needs.

It depends on her wants.

And I have been thinking about needs and wants as I plod through Seth Godin’s Marketing Seminar (The best $500 bucks I have ever spent), thinking about how they apply to poker.

What do People Want?

Slipping their snapshot of the world underneath the cellophane of some else’s photo album is a mistake inexperienced marketers make. Marketing is not a violin concerto. Think of it more like an orchestra, with everyone playing a different instrument.

And don’t ask people what instrument they want to play.

They don’t have a clue.

Even those who believe they know what they want bury the treasure underneath layers and layers of subtlety. If you operate an online poker room and someone turns up to play on your site just because you run an online poker room, then you are in trouble.

Someone will come along and offer the same thing, and then, if you don’t have a point of differentiation aligning with the needs and wants of your customers, then price becomes king, and in poker, the rake is the price.

But, nobody cares about the rake.

They say they do, but they don’t.

If someone created an online poker room that was trustworthy, put the wants and needs of their customer ahead of EBITDA, whose liquidity ensured life-changing money, and whose game selection and type allowed the money of the weaker players to last longer, then you wouldn’t care one iota about the rake.

As Seth Godin says:

“Price is the last refuge of a marketer who can’t figure out how to move up the hierarchy of what people need and want.”

No More Surveys Please

Last week I wrote an article called PokerStars join Discord; Eric Hollreiser Features in AMA.

Have a read.

It was a decision that the poker media treated like an unrepaired leak. Ignored by everyone except the in-house PokerStars blogging team, and yet I think it’s going to turn out to be as revolutionary as 888Poker’s decision to introduce shot clocks in 888Live events.

How often have PokerStars made changes to changes, after receiving feedback from players, leaving you wondering why on earth they didn’t understand the needs and wants of their players in the first place?

The answer was always:

“Our survey results showed…”

 Forget survey results.

They don’t tell you shit because people don’t know what they want or what they need.

What PokerStars need is a way to observe, and listen to their customers, living. It’s important to hear what they have to say about poker, but that only gets you to the wants. The gold is in the needs and to find those you need to know that one of your players gets up at the crack of dawn to play Rush Poker because he is ashamed, believing he plays too much, and doesn’t want his wife to know.


I am unsure about the inner workings of Discord. From what I can gather it’s a voice and text chat space create so gamers can interact when they play. I am not sure if PokerStars can see these conversations, but if they can, it’s perfect.

In the past, the online poker rooms have tried to hang out where their prospective and current customers hang out, and this primarily led them to open up discussion channels on other people’s forums.

It has been a disaster.

If you don’t control the culture of a forum, then it can be disastrous for your brand image, as PokerStars found out during the Supernova Elite changes.

The best way to understand needs and wants is to create a community forum that imbues the culture you want to flow throughout your company. You cannot be all things to all people. But just like 888Poker has declared to poker players, if you want to play an event where there is no stalling then come to an 888Live event you can position yourself to serve the ones who want and need the same things as you.

Eric Hollreiser’s appearance in the Discord AMA is a step towards rebuilding tarnished trust. Now, I would like to see them, and every other online poker room, become even more synergistic with their customers, by creating a truly vibrant and rocking culture where needs and wants are discussed on a daily basis without people even knowing they are doing so.


Create a bloody forum.

Control the culture of that forum.




Now, that’s enough rambling from me; I have to clean the Tahini from my nine-month old’s ear, and take her to her Sing & Sign class; a place where like-minded people converge to discuss the needs and wants of mothers, fathers, and children, where I am hoping poker passes as one or the other.



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WATCH: What parents need to know about 'dry drowning'

Transcript for What parents need to know about ‘dry drowning’

??? Back now with a story every parent should hear this summer. It’s called secondary drowning. Here’s ABC’s Adrienne Bankert with the symptoms to look out for. Reporter: Tonight, a warning for families about a silent, summer danger. It was alarming, because he was perfectly healthy, you know, the few days before. Reporter: Hours after playing in the pool, Garon Vega’s son, gio, became sick. He was exhibiting really high fever, lethargy and I noticed that his heart was beating rapidly. Reporter: After seeing recent headlines about secondary drowning, the boy’s family rushed gio to the E.R. Doctors diagnosing the 2-year-old with pneumonia. The family saying these doctors told them secondary drowning was to blame. It’s when a small amount of water is inhaled into the lungs. We probably would have waited until the next day and that probably would have been a bad outcome. Reporter: Lindsay Kujawa’s son was diagnosed with secondary drowning after jumping into the jacuzzi. I’m like, he’s okay, he’s not blue, you know, he’s choking up the water. Reporter: Doctors say the condition is rare, but can be fatal. It takes a surprisingly small amount of fluid to actually cause damage to the lungs. In a child, it can be as little as a quarter of a can of soda. Reporter: The symptoms to look for when water inhalation may have occurred include coughing, lethargy, difficulty breathing and irritability of confusion. Experts say if your child is experiencing any of these symptoms, get them to the doctor. If they are having trouble breathing, get them to the emergency room right away.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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Playtech BGT Sports secures Betfred contract extension

16th June 2017, London – Playtech BGT Sports (PBS), the leading provider of omni-channel sports betting solutions, has extended its Self Service Betting Terminals (SSBTs) agreement with Betfred to expand its coverage across the bookmaker’s entire retail estate.

Playtech BGT Sports secures Betfred contract extensionAs part of the deal, PBS will supply an additional 570 terminals to the UK bookmaker, which takes its total number to over 2,800 across its 1,700-strong estate.

The deployment of machines is expected to be completed before the start of the new football season in August.

In addition, PBS’ innovative mobile BetTracker product has also been released across the Betfred retail network.

The phone app allows customers to transfer their sports bets to their mobile devices after placing them in-shop, track their bets and cash out back to the terminal.

John Pettit, Managing Director for UK, Ireland, Asia, and Australia at Playtech BGT Sports, said: “We are thrilled Betfred has decided to extend its relationship with Playtech BGT Sports with the deployment of more machines across its entire retail estate.

“Betfred is a very important partner for us and is one of the leading retail bookmakers in the UK, where SSBTs are increasingly significant to betting shop customers.

“The agreement underlines the strategic importance of our product to those operators wishing to grow incremental revenues.

“We are particularly delighted to see BetTracker released across Betfred’s retail network, marking a significant step in our ongoing mission to digitise the retail betting space.”

Mark Stebbings, Managing Director of Betfred Retail, said: “The growing popularity of SSBTs, our record-breaking football business and the growth in in-play turnover were the key reasons behind our decision to expand this service across all our betting shops.

“We’ve witnessed a growing trend towards the use of self-service terminals, so to expand them to our entire retail estate was the logical next step for us.

“Furthermore, the addition of BetTracker will prove to be an important tool for us in the crossover of retail and online customers.”

For more information on this press please or to arrange an interview with John Pettit contact Square in the Air on 0203 586 8272 or

About Playtech

Playtech is a market leader in the gambling and financial trading industries. Founded in 1999 and listed on the Main Market of the London Stock Exchange, Playtech has more than 5,000 employees in 17 countries.

Playtech is the gambling industry’s leading software and services supplier with more than 140 licensees globally, including many of the world’s leading regulated online, retail and mobile operators, land-based casino groups, government sponsored entities such as lotteries, and new entrants opening operations in newly-regulated markets. Its business intelligence-driven gambling software offering includes casino, live casino, bingo, poker and sports betting.

It is the pioneer of omni-channel gambling which, through Playtech ONE, offers operators and their customers, a seamless, anytime, anywhere experience across any product, any channel (online, mobile, retail) and any device using a single account and single wallet. It provides marketing expertise, sophisticated CRM solutions and other services for operators seeking a full turnkey solution.

Playtech BGT Sports was created in 2016, following the acquisition of Best Gaming Technology and integration of other Playtech businesses into one sports division. Founded in 2005, BGT has been at the forefront of retail technology in the betting and gaming industry ever since. Its self-service betting terminals provide an automated wagering experience to customers in a variety of countries around the world. The terminals deliver a comprehensive variety of broadcast, data, and pricing models that are flexible enough to allow Playtech BGT Sports’ many operator partners to integrate their own pricing feeds and liability management practices into the system. Playtech BGT Sports offers products and services across both land-based and digital platforms and has a global footprint spanning four continents and multiple languages. For more information about Playtech BGT Sports please visit

Playtech’s Financials division operates both on a B2C and B2B basis. Its B2C focused offering is an established and growing online CFDs broker, operating the brand Its B2B offering includes the division’s proprietary trading platform, CRM and back-office systems, as well as its liquidity technology platform which provides retail brokers with multi-asset execution, prime brokerage services, liquidity and complementary risk management tools.

For further information, contact:

Playtech plc

Mor Weizer, Chief Executive Officer

Andrew Smith, Chief Financial Officer

c/o Bell Pottinger

James Newman, Head of Investor Relations

Bell Pottinger

David Rydell

+44 (0)20 3772 2500




+44 (0)1624 645954






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PlanetWin365 new #2 in Italy’s online sports betting market

italy-online-sports-betting-planetwin365The SKS365 Group’s PlanetWin365 betting brand held on to second place in Italy’s online revenue charts for the second straight month.

Figures compiled by Italian gaming news agency show Italian-licensed online sports betting sites handling total wagers of €486.6m in the month of May, down roughly 10% from April’s €542m handle. The combined online and land-based betting handle totaled €860m.

As usual, Bet365’s Italian site claimed the largest slice (€150.2m) of the online betting pie, but PlanetWin365 ranked second for the second straight month with €49.1m, edging out Gala Coral’s Eurobet brand at €46.5m. Snaitech and Sisal rounded out the top five with €31.4m and €31.1m, respectively.

The online casino vertical reported revenue of €46.3m, up €1.1m from the previous month but a full one-third higher than the casino vertical reported in May 2016. Lottomatica remained top casino dog with a 10% share, followed by Sisal (7.5%), Amaya Gaming’s PokerStars brand (7.2%), Eurobet (6.9%) and William Hill (5.8%).

As for online poker, GiocoNews reported that tournament entry fees totaled €6.9m, €300k higher than in April and a 16.7% year-on-year improvement. As ever, PokerStars dominated this category, claiming 65.5% of all tournament fees. Poker cash game revenue totaled €5.4m, down €200k from April and 8.3% below May 2016’s figure.

On the land-based front, Italy’s four brick-and-mortar casinos have earned a combined €119.3m over the first five months of 2017, with nearly two-thirds (63.3%) of that sum coming via slots.

Speaking of spinning reels, the Italian legislature’s lower house recently confirmed plans to reduce the nation’s complement of video lottery terminals (VLTs) by 140k machines. The cull, which is to be completed by April 1, 2018, represents about one-third of the total 407k VLTs currently whirring and buzzing in some 80k small venues across the country.

The lower house also approved plans to boost the tax on slot machine revenue by 1.5 points to 19%, while VLT taxes will rise half a point to 6%. On Thursday, Italy’s Senate gave its approval to these plans.

Meanwhile, the city of Rome has approved new restrictions on where VLTs and other electronic gaming machines (EGM) can be located. The changes, previewed last November by Rome’s major Virginia Raggi, prohibit new EGMs from being installed in any venue located within 500m of a ‘sensitive’ place, i.e. schools, churches, youth centers, etc.). Existing EGM venues will learn what fate Rome has in store for them within 120 days.



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Teen student drinking at 25-year low, but binge drinking persists, CDC says

Teen drinking appears to have reached a new low, according to a new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The percent of teens who reported drinking at least one drink per month dropped from 50.8 percent in 1991 to just 32.8 percent in 2015.

However, those who reported drinking tended to also report what is considered binge drinking: 57.8 percent of teens who reported drinking said they have had five drinks in a row.

“Despite progress, current and binge drinking remain common among high school students, and many students who binge drink do so at high intensity,” the authors wrote. Of the students who reported binge drinking, 43.8 percent said they had consumed at least eight drinks in one sitting.

Overall, rates of teen binge drinking dropped from a high of 31.5 percent of teens in 1999 to 17.7 percent of teen students in 2015 according to the report.

The CDC researchers examined data from the national Youth Risk Behavior Survey, where students complete a self-administered questionnaire. Between 1991 and 2015, the sample size of the students studied ranged from 10,904 to 16,410. The researchers acknowledge one limitation of the study is that it does not include teens who aren’t enrolled in school.

The researchers said one of the reasons for the decline in drinking rates is likely the increase in state policies designed to prevent underage drinking. But there is more to be done.

Despite the apparent downward trend for teen student drinking, excessive alcohol consumption remains a danger, according to the CDC and advocacy groups. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services characterizes underage drinking as a “a considerable public health challenge.”

Approximately 4,300 deaths among underage people were recorded annually between 2006 and 2010, according to the CDC report.

There is also a financial cost to excessive drinking. A 2010 study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, cited by the CDC, showed the costs for medical care associated with excessive drinking, including underage drinking, was more than $24.3 billion in the U.S.

To deter more teens from picking up the bottle, the CDC said some policy changes based on evidence-based studies could help. Strategies to help curb teen drinking could include raising taxes on alcohol and passing laws that regulate the number of places to buy or consume alcohol in a specific area. Additionally, they advise implementing more rules around alcohol advertising to prevent marketing that appeals to teens.

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SunCity draws PAGCOR’s ire over Sofitel casino takeover: report

Casino junket operator SunCity Group is in hot water with the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) for reportedly trying “to pull a fast one” on the regulator.

According to a Philippine Daily Inquirer report, the Macau casino junket operator appeared to have taken over the operations of a small casino in the Sofitel Philippine Plaza, a luxury resort hotel located in Manila, from a firm called Success Vine Holdings.

SunCity draws PAGCOR’s ire over Sofitel casino takeover: reportSuccess Vine Holdings has secured a three-year PAGCOR license in August 2014 to conduct junket operations and run the Sofitel casino, which is described in the report as “a relatively small operation.”

However, the state regulator has gotten word—from its own people—that SunCity hosted “a nice little launch party” for the Sofitel casino several weeks ago. A number of PAGCOR representatives were invited to the event, who, in turn, reported to their superiors about the alleged “blessing and soft opening of the relaunched facility.”

In response, PAGCOR chair Andrea Domingo has reportedly sent a letter to Success Vine, telling the operator that it could lose its license for “bringing in SunCity into the picture.” PAGCOR licenses, by law, cannot be transferred to another party with the permission from the regulator.

“SunCity is not licensed by PAGCOR to conduct junket operations at Sofitel Philippine Plaza,” Domingo said, according to the news outlet.

The Sofitel facility was “immediately shut down” several days after its soft launch.

SunCity has a major presence in the Philippines, including deals with Manila casinos as well as its Philippine-licensed online gambling operations. But sources told early this year that the Macau casino junket operator has laid off a sizable portion of its Manila-based online gambling staff. The sources also claimed SunCity planned to shift some online staff to its London office while the management team would be based on the Isle of Man, leaving only a skeleton crew behind in Manila.



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