Paul's Blog July 9, 2018 -“I’m not young enough to know everything yet.” Oscar Wilde

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“I’m not young enough to know everything yet.”    Oscar Wilde

Apologies for temporary outage of this news website (just for an hour on Weds).    Usage has increased steadily over the years and we passed a couple thresholds last week that required some major upgrades to meet the demand.  They have been implemented and we are back on track now with the capacity to serve more than 3,000 users at a time, and a million page-views a month.   

There is a story titled, “French gambling regulator ARJEL determines that loot boxes are not legally gambling.”  That headline implies that there are objective, universally agreed-upon definitions of “gambling”.  That may have been true at one time in years past (Chance + wager + prize), but new game styles are confounding the traditional definitions.  As ARJEL’s report clarifies “that microtransactions in videogames are undermining public policy goals for gambling." The report also called for a combined European strategy to address the challenges posed by loot boxes, and “called on regulators in Europe, specifically the Gaming Regulators European Forum, to take collective action on loot boxes.”   To my mind, loot boxes are a minor footnote to a much bigger issue.  The issue is that new game concepts are delivering a player experience that regulators recognize should be regulated but are not regulated because the current legal definitions and regulatory language need to be updated.    

Story headline: State-Sponsored Lotteries Gain Market Edge Over Commercial Gambling Interests

Exhibit one: ALL advertising of ALL gambling products has been banned in Italy. EXCEPTED from this ban is the Italian Lottery (SuperEnalotto) which will continue to be allowed to advertise, making it the only gambling product allowed to advertise via any media outlet in Italy.

Exhibit two: On July 2, Pennsylvania land-based casinos petitioned the state to suspend the license of the Pennsylvania State Lottery to make its lottery games available online.  The state has denied that request, upholding the license for the state Lottery to continue to make its games available online to the Pennsylvania consumer.  This article opines that “the rapid ruling demonstrates regulatory muscle for state-sponsored lotteries …  The natural regulatory in-roads that state-sponsored lotteries possess over commercial gambling interests point toward future market concessions in favor of such products in several jurisdictions around the world … In summary, higher margin state-sponsored lotteries are showing a tendency to extract market edges over regulated gambling services.”  This is indeed good news, and these are wonderful examples of government lawmakers having the integrity to defend the interests of their own gaming operators and by extension the best interests of the general public.  What can we do to make sure Lottery does in fact “extract market edges” over commercial gambling services? 

It can be problematic for state lottery directors to publicly defend the interests of stakeholders of the state lottery.  But it is being done.  The Iowa Lottery board, for instance, unanimously approved a motion “to explore sports lottery and its feasibility in Iowa with vendors and Iowa lawmakers.”  When it comes to sports betting, “There’s room for both the Lottery and casinos, Mary Neubauer, Vice President, Iowa Lottery said, noting that about 70 percent of sports betting worldwide is operated through lotteries.”

Reminiscent of the U.S. seizure of the assets and bank accounts of illegal online poker websites on April 15, 2011, Slovakian authorities and comptrollers launched a huge illegal gambling crackdown on June 28, resulting in the seizure and closure of gaming machines and accounting books across 100 gambling facilities in the country.  Heavy fines will be issued.  Slovakia also blocks the IPs of all online operators offering online gambling services to its citizens without a license from the government. Advertising and organizing of non-licensed foreign gambling games in the country are also heavily restricted and subject to fines.  Go team.  Decisive enforcement of existing law would go a long way towards elimination of illegal gambling operations. 

And an honorable mention for its ongoing efforts to test the boundaries of the law and ability of regulators to keep it from harming consumers goes to Lottoland again, for an ad’ that was banned for misleading consumers about the size of the jackpot prize.   Lottoland has earned previous mentions for their efforts to undermine the regulatory frameworks and stability of the markets in Ireland, U.K, and Australia.