Online gambling surge amid UK lockdown

by William Brown Last Updated
Rise in gambling self exclusions in the UK 

Britons stuck at home due to coronavirus are hitting the online casinos, providing a boost for operators of virtual games such as blackjack and roulette.

Bloomberg reports that 888 Holdings Plc said Tuesday it’s seen increased customer activity in the casino and poker operations that make up the majority of its revenue, echoing comments made on March 19 by gambling technology firm Playtech.

The “encouraging” update from 888 reinforces the view that gambling companies can mitigate losses arising from the cancellation of sporting events.

Gavin Kelleher, an analyst at broker Goodbody, said in a note.

888 got about 15 per cent of revenue from sports betting in 2018.

888 stock soared as much as 38 per cent Tuesday, the most ever, paring a plunge that followed widespread postponement of sports from soccer to horse racing as well as broader concerns about the virus’s impact on the economy.

The shares are down 33 per cent in the year, much less than the 77 per cent drop for bookmaker William Hill, which relies more on sports.

Among 888’s closest peers, Gamesys Group Plc has risen about 32 per cent since the firm said March 17 it’s seeing “good momentum across the business”.

But despite Playtech’s comments, its stock is down about 56 per cent over the past month.

Peel Hunt analysts Ivor Jones and Douglas Jack warned last week that Playtech’s live casino operation requires a large number of employees to be in the same place at the same time, operating tables that are streamed to people playing online.

The UK announced a ban on all unnecessary movement of people for at least three weeks on Monday.

Germany approves online gambling

The heads of Germany’s 16 states have recently approved the proposed legalisation of online casino games and online poker from July 1, 2021.

Casino News Daily reported last week that at the start of 2020, Germany implemented an experimental sports betting regulatory regime outlined in the country’s Third State Treaty on Gambling.

Under the gambling law that will remain in effect until June 30, 2021, international companies that want to operate in Germany must obtain licences from the competent licensing body – the Darmstadt Regional Council of the state of Hesse.

Such companies can only conduct online sports betting activities.

Online casino and poker products are prohibited under the Third State Treaty on Gambling.

The recently approved gambling law that will take effect from July 1, 2021 expands regulated online gambling services to casino and poker and beyond sports betting for the very first time since German lawmakers first launched their effort to introduce regulated online gambling.

While Germany’s iGaming market is set to be expanded, it should be noted that when it happens, operators conducting regulated wagering and gaming activities will be subjected to heavy limitations.

Limits on sports betting

According to sources, sports betting would be limited to wagering on the final result of a sporting event.

That is to say, in play sports betting would be not permitted.

Regulated online slots would be subject o a 1 euro per spin stake limit.

In addition, they would be banned from featuring an autoplay function as well as jackpots.

Under the new online gambling law, the individual states would be able to decide whether to prohibit table games and could also give state lotteries exclusive rights over this particular product.

Other restrictions made include a mandatory 1000 euro deposit limit across all iGaming operators.

That provision is currently in force under the Third State Treaty on Gambling.

Licenced gambling operators would not be able to advertise their offering on television between 6 and 9am.

Vaunet, Germany’s association of private broadcasters, spoke against that provision, saying that it would impact the regulated sector’s efforts to channel players from the black market and reduce advertising revenue for those broadcasters.

The Darmstadt Regional Council said last month that it has received 30 licence applications from companies interested to provide sports betting services under the Third State Treaty on Gambling.

Another 20 are expected to submit their applications.

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