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The Evolutionary Perspective
Category Archives: Online Gambling
Posted: November 28, 2021 at 9:41 pm
Thai police have repatriated an 18-year-old male and 16-year-old female who were apparently duped into working for an online gambling operation in Cambodia with the assistance and cooperation from their Cambodian counterparts.
The move came after Nidia Wanla asked the media to help her younger brother, Hatthachai Wanla, who went to work in Cambodia with three friends Krittapas Suwankun, 18, Issares Akkala, 18, and Aek, 16 and a teenage girl named Ms Prissana.
They say they were forced to work for an online gambling outfit and hit a monthly target of 1 million baht. If they failed to make enough money, they were told they would be sold to other groups.
Pol Col Benjapon Rodsawas, superintendent of the provincial immigration office in Trat, said authorities worked with the Royal Thai Embassy in Cambodia as well as other agencies to search for Mr Hatthachai.
After hearing the victim was safe, the Cambodian border agencies agreed to bring the victim back via the Ban Hat crossing, Pol Col Benjapon said. Police also worked with immigration officials in Cambodia to track down Ms Prissana and rescue her from an online gambling den in Koh Kong near the Ban Hat Lek border in Trat.
Upon reaching Cambodia, Ms Prissana was sent to Sihanoukville, before she was later sold to the company in Koh Kong.
Pol Maj Gen Pakorn Maneepakorn, commander of the provincial police in Trat, collected Mr Hatthachai on Friday at 4.30pm while Ms Prissana was picked up about 90 minutes later.
Speaking earlier in the day in his capacity as deputy director of the Child Woman Protection and Anti-Human Trafficking centres, assistant national police chief Pol Lt Gen Surachate Hakparn said arrest warrants have been issued for over 20 people suspected of trafficking Thais to the neighbouring country, including some Chinese nationals.
So far, Cambodian authorities also rounded up more than 70 Chinese suspects. Thai police hope to help more Thai nationals stuck in Cambodia against their will, they said. Bangkokpost
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Posted: November 25, 2021 at 11:49 am
Technology is an aspect of our society that is ever-evolving. It impacts how we live and how things work within our world. And its safe to say that the gaming industry is often changed by the rapid advances of technology.
To stay on top, its almost necessary for companies to stay up to date and innovate as things develop in new directions. Oftentimes, gamers might also have to adapt to these changes with their devices or software, to match up with the changes that their favorite online casino has made.
Virtual reality (VR) although still somewhat of a niche category, is still making its way into the market. In 2020, it accounted for less than half a percent of all the gaming sales. The process has been slow since the first reveal of the technology however, massive tech companies such as Facebook and Sony are working hard to make this advancement become a known phenomenon.
Theres word that the future of VR will revolve around a more social expereince, where gamers can interact and hang out with one another, in real time, like never before. Therefore, if the VR technology is able to create more connections with people rather than less, its likely that it will earn a big spot in the gaming industrys future.
Everyone is Going Mobile
Mobile and tablets have had a big influence on industry standards in recent years, from hospitality to gaming technology. About 50% of gaming happens on mobile and tablet devices, provided people with the ability to enjoy most of the casino experience from home.
Its not a surprise that the use of mobile devices to handle most affairs continuously rises every year, as mobile devices continue to advance and innovate. Some smartphones are as much as a laptop so its not really shocking that they are being used for pretty much everything, even gaming.
Online casinos and sport betting sites are becoming more and more mobile-friendly as they are seeing the importance of this technological advancement. Players having the option to play their favorite casino games from their smartphones or tablets has become a huge advantage to the iGaming industry. It means the more convenient and accessible the casino, the further the reach is and the more likely people will place bets while on the go.
Think about it, people can do pretty much anything from their mobile devices nowadays from ordering groceries to clothes from their favorite shops to be delivered within hours. So, it only makes sense for the gaming industry to also make these advances in their technology and how they run things. Additionally, in order to remain as a leading casino company in the industry, its crucial to remain up to par with technology.
Downloads and Updates Instantly
Over the last few years, there has been a huge shift in the online gaming space. The usage has increased and there have been several updates throughout this time, only making it better and more enjoyable for players. With instant downloadable apps and games, players can bring their gaming with them pretty much anywhere.
And on top of that, if there happen to be any issues along the way, the customer support teams at the best online casinos are available 24/7 and can help you to resolve these issues quickly.
Who would have thought that watching other people play games via streaming sites like YouTube or Twitch could be so intriguing and gain so many hits? YouTube was the one to start this trend out and created a concept that has gone viral in many other industries apart from the gambling industry.
However, there are YouTube channels and websites that are dedicated to recorded videos of gamers and their gameplay as well as some discussion of how the game played for them. Companies know how powerful this notion has become and have taken advantage of it by hiring YouTubers or giving players initiatives to share their experiences.
Technological advancements in the gaming space means that this industry has a lot of potential for growth within the coming years, all around the world. With new innovations popping up left and right, with new adaptations to the market suggests that the space will continue to evolve and innovate.
As an innovative space already, players can expect the experience to be even more immersive and realistic, especially with Virtual Reality creating quite the stir up in the gaming space. Looking at how far some of the first casinos have come to now, only shows how far the industry has come and how far it will continue to go.
Posted: at 11:49 am
William Hill will ditch three of its online casino brands EuroGrand, 21Nova, and Casino Club in early 2022 as part of a strategic move to concentrate on its core brands. [Image: Shutterstock.com]
William Hill has decided to wind down three of its online casino brands as part of a strategic decision to concentrate instead on its core brand proposition.
EGR Intel took to Twitter November 25 to share the UK sports betting giants decision, which it communicated to its affiliates via email on Wednesday:
In preparation for the permanent closure of EuroGrand, 21Nova, and Casino Club online casinos on January 24, 2022, William Hill will nix the three sites marketing material starting Friday. Existing customers, however, can still play and withdraw their funds up until the 2022 closure.
The outfit also instructed its affiliates to cancel all promotional activity with immediate effect.
EuroGrand and 21Nova both launched in 2006 with the William Hill Casino Club rolling out in 2009. In Wednesdays email, the global online gambling firmassured affiliates it had no plans to streamline [its] portfolio further. William Hill added that it remained committed to its eponymously named brand and to Mr Green, which holds gaming and casino licenses in Europe and a sportsbook license in Ireland.
part of an internal review of its brands and business footprint
A spokesman for William Hill said the move came as part of an internal review of its brands and business footprint.
The decision is the latest in a line of strategic fat trimming exercises kickstarted when Caesars Entertainment announced its 2.9bn ($4bn) takeover bid for William Hill last year. After shareholders voted in favor of the Caesars takeover in November 2020 and following approval by High Court of Justice judges in England and Wales Caesars acquisition of William Hill was finally concluded in April of this year.
Caesars, however, made it clear from the get-go it wasnt interested in William Hills 1,400 retail sportsbooks scattered across Europe.
Enter 888 Holdings in September 2021, which agreed to buy William Hills non-US business assets from Caesars for around 2.2bn ($3.04bn). 888s CEO Itai Pazner hailed the move as transformative for his firm.
Caesars core aim of expanding its US sportsbooks was underscored in August, when it unveiled its total rebrand of William Hills US sportsbook. The new-look wagering offering, named Caesars Sportsbook, now has a footprint in 12 US states.
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Posted: at 11:49 am
The online casino industry is booming and many investors are eager to set up shop in various parts of the world. One major obstacle that many prospective casino operators are experiencing right now is the strict gambling legislation thats present in many countries. However, there are a few bright gems that serve as gambling havens in select parts of the world and one of those gems is Malta. The countrys gambling activities are completely governed by the Malta Gaming Authority. This regulatory body is responsible for granting licenses to operators and is considered by many in the industry to be one of the most respected institutions in the world.
Innovations are constantly being brought forth within the online gambling industry. In fact, one of the emerging trends in online gambling is the ability to play casino games with cryptocurrency. This is a relatively new technology that is currently sweeping the world. Its an industry thats primed for substantial growth and thats why many investors are eager to establish their operations wherever they can. For most, the MGA license serves as the perfect opportunity to join and grow within the online gambling space.
There is so much red tape and bureaucracy behind the establishment of a legitimate gambling operation. For many investors, its not worth the headache to have to go through such senseless and stringent screening protocols. Thats why Malta sets itself apart as a go-to destination for many online gambling companies. They do have a reputation for having strict protocols in place when it comes to granting licenses. However, they are also known to be fair and consistent in their implementation of the laws. The MGA is also deemed to be very easy to work with and their streamlined processes make the experience more compelling for prospective operators.
Despite the meticulous and thorough nature of Maltas gambling laws, they still provide operators a clear picture of what is expected of them. This is because Maltas legislators put a lot of time and effort into crafting pieces of gambling legislation that are designed to appeal to international casinos. Within the general population itself, there is a very vibrant gambling culture. The tourists and locals of Malta actively participate in the economy of gambling in different forms. This is why the Maltese government takes its gambling activities very seriously. However, they also make it a point to be conscious of the experiences of operators when it comes to licensing and operations.
Compared to other licensing bodies located around the world, the fees set forth by the MGA are relatively low. They are also accompanied by requirements that are uncomplicated and clear. Even though they are rather stringent, the MGA does a good job of walking operators through the process of licensing applications. In fact, there are many offshore casino operators who have relocated their businesses over to Malta in order to get away from the harsh licensing fees of their origin countries. Without getting too much into the specifics, Malta has a reputation for providing one of the most cost-efficient licensing processes in the world.
Another incentive for establishing gambling operations in Malta is the human capital that the Maltese population can provide. The country boasts many skilled professionals who are vital to the gambling industry. From lawyers, accountants, and software developers to customer service representatives and custodial staff, Malta has a pool of talent that appeals to many casino operators. They offer reliable professional services that help grow the local economy while also boosting the gambling market.
Malta has a relatively healthy disposition towards gambling as a form of recreation. In fact, the country considers its gambling institutions to be one of its main selling points when it comes to tourism. At the end of the day, there are so many upsides for casino operators to establish themselves within Maltese territory. Its a prime destination for any vital players within the gambling industry who are looking to grow their brands and overall reach. When you have a healthy combination of good governance, reasonable policies, healthy tourism, and a thriving gambling culture, Malta presents itself as a very good value proposition for casino operators around the world.
Disclaimer: Play responsibly. Players must be over 18. For help visit https://www.gamcare.org.uk/.
Independent journalism costs money. Support Times of Malta for the price of a coffee.
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Posted: at 11:49 am
One of the most popular casino games that are also played competitively is poker. However, given the fact that slots are the top earners on these sites, most of the funds go into improving that experience. That being said, online poker is very entertaining as it is today, and many people get hooked on this online play. After all, it has its advantages, and it is good practice for pro players. So, lets see if you can use online gambling platforms to train for real-life casino tournaments.
One of the main perks of using online gambling parlors is that you can encounter a lot of skillful players, who will be tough to beat, or even get the best of you. Meaning, it can be a valuable learning experience. Moreover, you will be playing at echt geld casino or real money casino online, which means you get to win some cash while you practice. You will also be able to claim bonuses and use them for poker. More importantly, the sites with a big audience have lots of poker players who are constantly online, so you wont have to wait for too long to find your match.
Although tournament qualifications are done through online play, the final matches are usually played in a physical location where you get to sit with your opponents. When playing online there is always a timer, and you cant really take too much time to think about your decision and evaluate others at the table. In a real-life match, everything you do is important, and the situation gets really tense. Meaning, you will have to play with professional people in person, in order to get good at that part and learn how to read them.
There are also apps and even Facebook games where you can play poker against other users. These are free and you cant win or lose money playing. Some say these are also good for practice, but chances are you wont encounter people who are as skilled as those who are playing at online casinos. Moreover, winning here does feel good, but losing doesnt feel as bad, so stakes are not that high. In other words, users can be really reckless with their chips, and you get nothing out of that experience.
All things considered, there are multiple perks to being a good poker player or getting better at it. For example, you become more observant and can better evaluate how people feel. Also, you might become a better investor, or learn how to be calmer in a stressful situation. You might even become a professional, and that can increase your wealth substantially. However, you need to recognize if you are not cut out for it, as it will cost a lot. So, be very careful and responsible with your money.
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Posted: at 11:49 am
Two Italians based in Malta provided Sicilian criminal gangs with usernames and passwords to Maltese-registered gaming websites as part of a multi-million-euro illegal undertaking.
Angelo Repoli, 45, from SantAgata di Militello, and Sergio Moltisanti, 50, from Ragusa, were among several criminals arrested last week in Palermo. The two were placed under house arrest as part of the police operation, codenamed Operation Game Over II.
The operation was a continuation of a similar operation carried out three years ago by the same name, which uncovered how the Sicilian mafia Cosa Nostra was using online gambling to launder money.
Companies in Bkara and Gzira
Repoli and Moltisanti have Maltese companies registered under their names, which they used between 2016 and 2018 to acquire online gaming licences in Malta. The betting companies have long been shut down and the Malta Gaming Authority had withdrawn the licence to Moltisantis LB Group back in 2018 when the first arrests were made.
However, the names of the Malta-based contacts only came out last week as Italian police and prosecutors arrested seven people, a couple with links to mafia organisation Cosa Nostra.
Repoli, who gives his residential address in Lugano Switzerland (although investigators say he lives permanently in Militello), is sole owner of Pinpoint Ltd, set up in December 2016 and registered at a Birkirkara office.
Moltisanti gives his residential address at a Sliema flat and is director of Quantum Leap Ltd, set up in May 2011 with an office in Gzira.
Quantums shareholding is held by financial services consultancy firm Finaserv Consultancy Ltd that provides fiduciary services.
Circumventing Italian law
The head of Palermos mobile police force that was involved in the investigation and arrests, Rodolfo Ruperti, told MaltaToday on Thursday the criminal gangs had acquired usernames and passwords from the Malta-based contacts to circumvent Italian gaming laws.
It is illegal in Italy to bet and play casino games on websites with .com and .net domains since gambling outlets registered with the Italian gaming authority have to have a .it domain.
The gangs operated several internet cafes and news agents across Sicily, particularly in Palermo, from where users were provided with illicit access to various gaming sites operated by Repoli and Moltisanti.
14 million per month
Investigators believe the whole operation generated some 14 million per month and was used to launder illicit funds. Some of the cash generated was reinvested in legitimate businesses and investigators also seized an agricultural undertaking funded by the illegal operation.
The criminal organisation used to pay a monthly fee to the providers in Malta ranging between 1.8% and 1.3% of the total sum played that month. Thousands of euros in cash were passed on to Repoli and Moltisanti.
Judicial documentation seen by MaltaToday shows how phone and conversation intercepts led investigators to establish how the network operated.
The ring leaders were Salvatore Cin, Rosario Calascibetta and Giacomo Dolce, who each set up a network of agents that provided access to gamblers.
Gamblers had no direct relationship with the website operators, an illegality in its own right, since they could only create personal accounts through the respective agents. Some of the betting sites listed in the official documents are Betqueen365.com, Italbet365.com, Betday24.net, Globalbet360.com and Colmabet.com.
Passwords were provided by the ring leaders to their agents. In one of the conversations recorded secretly by investigators, one of the agents was told that the password was Ita12345!.
Phone intercepts also show that the ring leaders were wary of gamblers who played large sums of money and emphasised with their respective agents the need to cap bets. Investigators believe this was done to limit the amount of cash that would have to be disbursed for winnings.
Ill turn his blood into water
Agents were expected to hand over 1,500 per month to their masters and several phone intercepts highlight problems with some of the agents, who fell back on payments.
Ill turn his blood into water, one of the ring leaders was heard saying of an agent who had racked up a debt of several thousand euros.
Last month, a Sicilian court imprisoned Benedetto Bacchi, known as the Gambling King, for 18 years after finding him guilty of running a network of 700 outlets where illicit gambling was taking place on gaming sites based in Malta.
Bacchi was accused of helping the Cosa Nostra launder its money through this illicit network. He had been arrested in 2018 during the first operation codenamed Game Over. Bacchi has always claimed he was a victim of Cosa Nostra.
Bacchis gaming licences in Malta were terminated three years ago when he was arrested.
Posted: November 23, 2021 at 4:54 pm
3 Tips for Better Online Casino Chances
Its safe to say that online casinos have become rather popular in the last few years. This is especially true today when people spend more time at home due to the COVID-19 situation.
If you are also stuck at home and want to find a way to have some fun online, you should know that playing online casino games can provide you with the thrill you seek. However, if you want to win valuable prizes, you have to know what youre doing. Here are the 3 things you can do to have better chances of winning at an online casino.
Get The Welcome Bonus
Most casinos offer a generous welcome bonus to their customers. This is their way of inviting them to stay and play games for hours. However, some people dont want to bother with applying for this bonus and they go straight to gambling. This is a mistake because a welcome bonus can provide you with plenty of benefits. Therefore, it doesnt matter if you have to put in the welcome bonus codes or make a small deposit in order to get the bonus, you should do it. This will better your chances of winning.
Read The Terms And Conditions Carefully
Online casinos offer a plethora of options when it comes to games. This, of course, is good news. However, every single one of those games is played differently. Therefore, if you want to win prizes, you have to learn how the game works. The best way to do this is to read the terms and conditions section carefully. There, you will find out what the requirements are and the rules of the game.
Play On Your Mobile Phone
One of the best ways to improve your chances of winning at an online casino is to visit the site via your mobile phone. Why is this the case? Well, in order to popularize the mobile casino versions of their sites, most online casinos reward their customers for playing casino games on their mobile phones. The rewards mostly include exclusive offers other players dont get. This is why, if you are tech-savvy and have a good smartphone, you should definitely try playing casino games this way. Gambling at online casinos can be a lot of fun. However, you have to do it carefully and responsibly.
Posted: at 4:54 pm
The online gambling sector bludgeoned rapidly, and it continues to post growing revenues. Predictions indicate that the industry will have a market cap of over $100 million by 2023. One reason online gaming has enjoyed growing popularity is that it is quick to adopt new technologies. Gambling operators are always eager to make players as comfortable as possible. Cryptocurrencies are the latest offerings at online casinos. Digital currencies hit the mainstream over the past several years, enabling consumers to leverage their unique features. Although adaption has been measured, the number of crypto casinos is rising exponentially.
Virtual currencies are suitable for online gambling because they offer a level of anonymity, which some players crave. They also guarantee safe and low-cost payments. The persistent growth of cryptocurrency gaming has drawn the attention of governments and regulatory bodies in different regions. Although digital coins are considered safer than fiat currency, users remain at risk. So, regulatory authorities began developing standards to protect gamblers on cryptocurrency gaming websites. The industry currently focuses on implementing Know Your Customer (KYC) and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) procedures for gambling sites and crypto exchanges to boost safety.
As the online gambling industry expands, so do the risk factors it faces. Cybercriminals come up with new, sophisticated methods of exploiting the vulnerabilities in online casinos. Gambling operators move large sums of money, and digital currencies have only increased transactions. Therefore, these platforms are prime targets for different types of illegal activities, including money laundering, identity theft and international financial crime. The rising prominence of cryptocurrency worsened the situation. Since some coins provide highly private transactions, bad actors use them for illicit practices, like trading on the black market. They then turn to online casinos to launder the ill-gotten gains. So, even legitimate operators find themselves in trouble when these activities come to light.
Another cause for concern is the security at coin exchanges. Some of the biggest cryptocurrency exchanges have been victims of cyberattacks, leaving them with losses worth millions of dollars. The Increasing use of Bitcoin and other coins for gaming means that exchanges are gaining new customers, making them even bigger targets. The rampant cases of data breaches have made currency holders warier than usual. If players are to bet on best Bitcoin gambling sites, they want assurances that their funds and information is safe. KYC and AML compliance seeks to provide that.
For players to understand how these policies protect them, they should have an idea of what they entail. Know Your Customer protocols are designed to prevent gambling operators from onboarding fraudsters who can compromise the entire platform. KYC procedures are fundamental to AML compliance. The point of these processes is to verify account users during signup. KYC standards have become mandatory at online casinos because they reduce the risk of fraudulent accounts. Banks and financial institutions have been proving customer identities for years, and other industries like online gambling and cryptocurrency are catching up. The KYC process is not only necessary at casinos but coin exchanges as well.
A compliant operator must establish procedures to prove customers are who they say they are. Typically, a casino or crypto exchange asks for proof of identity. So, players have to submit documents, such as bills with a valid physical address. KYC policies also require age verification to ensure that customers are of legal age. Gambling operators can check a users history, as well, to see if they appear on sanction lists. KYC tools enable online casinos to track customers on self-exclusion lists or with multiple accounts. Recently, regulatory bodies obligate casinos to verify identities during withdrawals. Gamblers cashing out funds above a certain amount have to submit various documents. Weeding out inappropriate users doesnt only protect the establishment but other players as well. By verifying identities, casinos and crypto exchanges can monitor the flow of illicit funds.
Online casinos and cryptocurrency exchanges must find ways to comply with ID verification requirements without compromising service quality. A KYC-compliant business doesnt only avoid penalties but also gains a competitive advantage. Gamblers tend to trust operators that abide by regulations. The same applies to coin exchanges. The more confident users are, the more they spend.
Despite comprehensive KYC requirements, both industries are finding ways to make the onboarding process as painless as possible for customers. For example, signing up at an online casino can take minutes, provided the customer satisfies all the terms. Thanks to advanced digital tools, operators can take in new players without spending too much time on the registration process.
Credibility is a precious commodity in the online gambling sector. A casinos reputation can make or break it. KYC compliance is one way a gambling website can build a solid reputation. It shows a business values its customers, and that goes a long way in attracting and retaining users.
KYC and AML protocols vary across regions. Some countries have stricter laws than others, which affects how gambling websites operate. If a casino or crypto exchange serves international clients, then it has to factor in the KYC and AML regulations of the users nation.
Failure to meet KYC and AML requirements can incur penalties. In 2018, for example, gambling operators had to pay 19.6 million in fines for failing to institute the necessary AML policies. In some countries, crypto exchanges cannot operate without a license, which means they have to comply with local KYC procedures.
Security is a critical issue in online gambling, and the proliferation of cryptocurrencies has made it even more so. Both industries face numerous safety threats that necessitate the implementation of stringent standards. KYC and AML policies are some ways that regulatory authorities ensure gamblers can play with crypto safely. Online casinos and coin exchanges have to adhere to certain regulations to operate legally.
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Posted: at 4:54 pm
MGM Grand and MotorCity Casino in Detroit will mandate masks for all patrons who visit their premises, regardless of whether they are vaccinated or not. This new rule will be in effect today (Tuesday, November 23) at noon.
Mask requirements at these two casinos are the outcome of the Face Mask Advisory, which was issued on November 19 by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. However, it is worth noting that MotorCity has one exception to this rule.
Guests that are attending Sound Board events or banquets will not be required to wear masks. Traffic at these two casinos is likely to decrease this period as people will look for alternatives.
One of those alternatives is online gambling, especially for sports fans. In the month of October, Michigan had record-breaking figures in online wagering. As the Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB), October managed to edge out the previous record, which was $359.5 million and was set in March.
FanDuel recorded a total sports betting handle of $124 million, which is a 26.8% share of the market. DraftKings, which held the number 1 spot in the two months prior to FanDuels takeover, came in second with a $120 million handle or 26% of the market. BetMGM closed off the top three with a $102.2 million handle, which equals to 22.1% market share. Back in March, BetMGM also became the official gaming partner of the Detroit Tigers.
Due to the pandemic, all three casinos in Detroit had to close their doors for a total of six months back in 2020. As of right now, even though MGM Resorts and MotorCity have announced the rules concerning mask mandates, the third casino in the city Greektown Casino, is yet to announce one.
In a statement, MGM Resorts shared a few details on wearing masks at its premises. It says that if any guest wants to visit its casino, a face mask must be worn at all times, except for when they are actively eating or drinking. Moreover, if the guest does not have a mask, one will be provided after he or she enters MGMs casino floor.
Even though the rate of new cases and deaths in Michigan has been on the decline recently, winter is just around the corner, which means that the region will likely experience another surge in cases. Oakland County has the lowest rate of new COVID-19 infections, but that is not the case with Detroit and Macomb County, which are far more vulnerable in case of a new surge. This is tied to the rate of vaccination, which is higher in Oakland (almost 75%) than in Detroit (46.8%) and Macomb (63.7%).
The problem in Detroit is not access to vaccines, but federal distrust. Barb Roethler, Detroit Health Department spokeswoman, told Metro Times that the organization has been aggressive about getting vaccinated and has done everything to make the process easy. Roethler added that there is a massive hesitancy when it comes to getting vaccinated due to a lack of accurate information. As she points out, a lot of the misinformation comes from social media.
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Posted: November 19, 2021 at 5:43 pm
In this article we provide an update on recent developments on the status of parliamentary and industry reviews considering potential prohibitions on the use of credit cards for gambling purposes. The importance of such reviews has been heightened by the recent COVID-19 influenced growth in online gambling as a form of accessible entertainment, with funding by credit card being a convenient and popular method for making deposits into gambling accounts.
A recent submission by the Australian Banking Association (ABA) stated that online gambling now accounts for 55 per cent of all gambling, with 25 per cent of Australian adults having gambled online in the past 12 months.1
Currently, Australians cannot use credit cards when gambling in terrestrial licensed venues, casinos and TAB outlets. However, the same cannot be said for online gambling where credit card use is currently permitted.2
Some bank issuers have already independently moved to prevent their customers from transacting with gambling companies using their credit cards. This includes American Express, Bank of Queensland, Bendigo Bank, Citibank, Macquarie Bank, Suncorp Bank and Virgin Money.
There have recently been a number of bodies considering whether the use of credit cards for gambling purposes remains appropriate, particularly following high profile moves in other jurisdictions to prohibit the use of credit cards. For example, in April 2020, the Gambling Commissions ban on gambling businesses allowing consumers in Great Britain to use credits cards to gamble took effect.
Among the entities considering the issue, the ABA delivered a Report in December 2020. The ABA received submissions from 40 parties, including gambling industry participants, member banks and other interested stakeholders. Although the ABA did not ultimately recommend a particular course of action due to concerns regarding coordinated conduct under the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth), the Report examines pros and cons associated with proscribing the use of credit cards for gambling services. We outline some of their findings below.
A Parliamentary Joint Committee on Corporations and Financial Services has also been undertaking an inquiry into regulation of the use of financial services such as credit cards and digital wallets for online gambling in Australia. The terms of reference include, among other things, assessing the extent of consumer detriment, the potential for a mandatory industry code, regulatory approaches used in other relevant jurisdictions and the level of existing voluntary bans by Australian financial institutions. Submissions to that inquiry closed on 25 June 2021 with public hearings in August and September 2021.
Most recently, the Environment and Communications Legislation Committee (Committee) has been considering the Interactive Gambling Amendment (Prohibition on Credit Card Use) Bill 2020 (Bill) introduced by Senator Stirling Griff and referred to it by the Senate on 18 March 2021. The Committee delivered its report in October 2021. We examine their key findings below.
The ABA Consultation Report - Use of credit cards for gambling transactions
In November 2019, the ABA utilized the independent research agency YouGov to conduct a survey asking whether Australians agreed or disagreed on using credit cards for gambling. A key finding of the survey was that 81% of Australians thought that the use of credit cards for gambling should be restricted or banned.3 Another finding of the report was that 30 of the 40 submissions supported the view to prohibit credit card use for gambling. Some of the main reasons behind such a stance is to reduce problem gambling and to ensure for consistent gambling regulation across Australia.
The report also contemplated the reasoning for those who had the opposite opinion. Respondents against such a ban argued that it imposes on personal freedom and that it punishes individuals who are not problem gamblers. Submissions and feedback from the survey also revealed the opinion that banning the use of credit cards does not address the underlying gambling addiction, will not reduce the risk of problem gambling, and in some circumstances may cause more harm as gamblers move to illegal offshore gambling websites.4
Additionally, it was argued that newsagents and lottery charities could be negatively impacted by such a ban. Tabcorp estimated that a ban could reduce the incomes of lottery agents and newsagents by between $17 million and $44 million per year.5 Lottery West, the Australian Lottery and Newsagents Association, Tabcorp and some registered lottery charities put forward submissions explaining that lottery products cause minimal harm, and for this reason, should be excluded from any ban on using credit cards for gambling transactions.6
Overall, as mentioned above, the ABA did not recommend a particular course of action.
The Interactive Gambling Amendment (Prohibition on Credit Card Use) Bill 2020
The Bill would amend the Interactive Gambling Act 2001 (Interactive Gambling Act) to implement a ban on the use of credit cards for betting using certain regulated interactive gambling services. Senator Griff explained that the main purpose of the Bill was to:
The Bill would have created civil penalty and criminal offence provisions for a person who accepted, facilitated or promoted credit card payments for interactive gambling services after the six month transition period, with significant financial penalties of up to $166,500.
Submissions in support of the Bill
Many associations such as the Alliance for Gambling Reform, Customer Owned Banking Association, the Australian Institute of Family Studies, Centre for Health Equity Training, Research and Evaluation and the Salvation Army, have made submissions supporting the Bill with their reasoning aligningwith the argument to protect Australians from problem gambling and to also make the rules and regulations for land-based gambling the same as online gambling.8
Submissions against the Bill
A number of parties cited concerns with the Bill including Responsible Wagering Australia (RWA) and Tabcorp. RWAs arguments against the legislative change stem from their main position that there 'is no compelling evidence to indicate links between the use of credit cards across online betting platforms and the incidence of problem gambling'. Additionally, arguments were put forward that safeguards are already in place with major online wagering operators and card issuers themselves to protect Australians and that these could be strengthened. 9
Tabcorp cited concerns within their submission regarding the definition of credit card in the Bill being too broad and recommended that betting vouchers and bonus bets be expressly excluded from the definition of credit card. 10 Tabcorp also identified concerns that the Bill would extend the prohibition to apply to newsagents and lottery agents and their sale of lottery tickets and that such a change could reduce the incomes of lottery agents and newsagents by approximately $44 million per year. 11
The Committees findings
The Committee considered all the submissions and ultimately came to the recommendation that the Senate should not pass the Bill. Though the Committee recognized that individuals using credit cards for online gambling can experience harm, they reported that there is limited research into the drivers and the extent of the potential harm. 12 Correspondingly, they argued that such a legislative change could impact an individuals choice and autonomy. The Committee further stated that as there are still several unintended consequences identified in the Bill, such as the definition concerns pointed out by Tabcorp, these issues should be resolved before passing such an amendment. Aiding their decision against the legislative change was the argument that financial institutions already play a major role in issuing and operating credit cards in accordance with legislation such as the National Consumer Credit Protection Act 2009.
It also should be noted that the dissenting reports from the Australian Greens' and from Centre Alliance Senator Stirling Griff both recommended that the Bill be passed.
Judging from the Committees recommendation, it is far from clear that legislative change will occur in Australia in the near future regarding the use of credit cards to deposit funds into online gambling accounts. We await the outcomes of the Parliamentary Joint Committees inquiry with interest.
At this stage, and given indicated industry support, a voluntary industry approach in combination with action by credit card issuers appear more likely to bring about change in this space in the short to medium term.