Football loving Brits bet £1.5 billion on the World Cup, according to a new market report from H2 Gambling Capital. That made it the world’s biggest market for wagering on the tournament, with England’s run to the semi-finals contributing to the frenzy. H2 Gambling Capital said the amount wagered on the final between France and Croatia exceeded the Champions League final and the FA Cup final combined. Meanwhile, sports betting supplier OpenBet processed 177 million bets during the tournament, cementing its status as the world’s biggest betting event. “Factors such as a favourable time zone, own nation’s participation and some of the favourites being beaten out early on have led to a great success story with our European customers, with some seeing peaks over 200% as compared to a normal Premier League Saturday,” said Keith O’Loughlin, senior vice president at OpenBet owner Scientific Games. Check out PR Newswire for the full story.
British bookmakers are in line for a £1 billion tax rebate after Betfred won a legal battle with HM Revenue & Customs. A tax tribunal decided that collecting VAT on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals between 2005 and 2013 had “breached the principle of fiscal neutrality” because similar roulette-style games played in casinos and online were exempt from the tax. However, The Guardian devoted most of its coverage to anti-gambling campaigners, who declared themselves “incensed” by news of a delay in reducing the maximum stake on FOBTs from £100 to £2. “Instead of giving the bookies a double win, Treasury should instead put the tax for remote gambling up to at least 25% in the budget this year and enact a £2 stake on FOBTs by April 2019,” said Matt Zarb-Cousin, a spokesman for campaign group Fairer Gambling. In a separate Guardian article, “experts on problem gambling” described the growing number of football clubs with betting firms and online casinos on their shirts as “disturbing” and “worrying” and said a national debate on the potential harm is overdue.
Russian president Vladimir Putin has launched a clampdown on illegal gambling. Illegal bookies were reported to have made a killing during the World Cup in Russia, and Putin has had enough. He signed a new law toughening punishment for organised illegal gambling, and toughened up the penalties for offenders. If caught, illegal bookmakers could be hit with a term of up to two years, plus fines of up to 500,000 rubles. If the crime is committed by a group, the prison term may rise to four years while a fine may reach 1 million rubles, and if the crime is committed on a large scale, six year jail terms and fines of up 1.5 million rubles are possible. The Russian Legal Information Agency has more on this.
Ireland’s president has declared his opposition to betting advertising in a radio interview with RTE. “If I had my way, I wouldn’t have advertising of any access to gambling platforms in sport at all,” said Michael Higgins. “I just think sport should be protected from it," Higgins added. “There is no one being heavy about it. What you can do is through education obviously, through the school systems. But you can't do everything through education. For too long in Ireland we often ignore problems that are staring us in the face.” You may wonder why, as president, he does not simply have his way and outlaw it. But in Ireland, the president is a ceremonial role and he cannot make such decisions. However, his opinion carries weight in the country, and he advises the government.
Ladbrokes Coral owner GVC is following William Hill, Paddy Power Betfair and Bet365 in making inroads into the burgeoning US regulated sports wagering market. It has tied up a $200 million deal with MGM, the world’s biggest casino operator, to provide sports betting and online wagering services for all of MGM’s casinos and hotels, a group that includes MGM Grand and the Bellagio. The Express has the full details here.