By Paul Jason
Our goal is to make the process of staying informed be as easy and efficient as possible. The Pulse of the Industry includes only those news items in which I add editorial commentary. You can still click on these stories to read the source document. News items not a part of the "Pulse" may include captions that summarize the point of the story. But those captions are lifted directly from the story itself. Of course, those news items are just as important as the ones I choose to comment on in the "Pulse"!
China Pouring billions into U.S. Start-ups
It’s all about Smart-Phones. Actually, it’s about a strategy that envisions smart-phones as being the driver for all manner of consumer-facing businesses, including games. Chinese Internet giants Alibaba, Baidu, and Tencent have targeted U.S. technology start-ups as the engine that will drive smart-phone technology. And smart-phone technology will be the competitive differentiator for all consumer-facing businesses (like Lottery) of the future. For instance, Baidu’s late-round investment is what drove Uber’s theoretical market valuation to $41 billion valuation. As an alternative taxi-service, Uber is not worth anything close to $41 billion. And as an Internet services provider, Baidu doesn’t care about alternative taxi-services. It’s Uber’s Mobile app and Mobile connection to a massive consumer base that Baidu covets. Alibaba’s acquisition of 10% of game developer Kabam for $120 million drove the market valuation of Kabam to over $1 billion. Internet portal and services provider Tencent is valued at over $200 billion and had $7.2 billion in revenue last year from online gaming alone. These Internet service providors see the smart-phone and Mobile apps as the key to controlling the consumer relationship, and that as being key to controlling the business. Another example of how Mobile is becoming the tail that wags the dog: Like its arch competitor Google, Apple announced that it too will be invading the automobile market in order to leverage its core competency of, wait for it, Mobile platforms and apps. And land-based retailers like Target exploring partnerships with Uber to gain access to its Mobile app technology and customer-base.
Isle of Man and the Netherlands to work together on creating shared information and common standards for consumer protection
Individual EU member states are entering into multi-jurisdictional agreements that promise to shape the regulatory environment in Europe. The important thing about this is that the establishment of these standards can and should be done at the EU member state level as opposed to the EU Commission level. Just like the U.S. states do not need their federal government to establish a national framework that over-rides the rights of individual states to determine regulatory policy, European member-states do not need the EU Commission to over-ride their right to decide on the regulatory policies that best serve their citizens.
China is threatening to revoke not just tourist visas, but also shipping and trade links to outer Taiwanese islands. I’m sure competition for casino gambling revenues is intense everywhere, but this would would seem to be a rather extreme, and destructive, form of economic retaliation. Hopefully, nation-states won’t devolve into a 1929 version of erecting barriers to international commerce.
B2C messaging on WhatsApp: A mobile marketer’s dream
Facebook is under tremendous pressure to leverage its incredible consumer connection to increase revenues to be more commensurate with its market cap. To date, Facebook has not been very successful at monetizing its incredible consumer connection. (WhatsApp is a messaging service that has been advertising free.) Enabling their consumers to enjoy games-of-chance would seem to be the Holy Grail when it comes to revenue-generating potential. Who will be their partners?
Gambling And The Bank Secrecy Act
The article on The Bank Secrecy Act (“BSA”) is both comprehensive and easy-to-understand. It does not, however, get into the conundrum faced by gaming operators and casino operators in particular. Casino players do not want do divulge more personal information and subject themselves to more financial reporting and auditing. I think we might even leap to the supposition that the bigger the player and the more money they are wagering, the less receptive they will be to increased scrutiny. Casino operators would quite rightly point out that just because they like to wager large sums does not mean that they are laundering money, have something to hide or are otherwise doing something wrong. Casino operators might ask where the line should be drawn between a legitimate need to prevent illegality and an onerous invasion of privacy. BSA requirements can have a direct impact on their GGR/profits. This is a hotly debated issue because failure to comply with BSA requirements can have costly consequences.
Massachusetts State gaming officials release educational casino video, ask for public comment
What a great video! It is comprehensive (in fact, a little TMI for most of us), and clearly explains the process of licensing casino operators, the role of referenda to engage the residents of the hosting community, the impacts on the host and surrounding communities, etc. In this age when transparency on the part of government is so highly valued, Massachusetts has provided a very nice blueprint for how the general public can become more engaged in the process, or at least understand the steps taken in the process of legalizing and regulating a gambling establishment.