Hot copy: Stories that caught our eye this week from around the sector

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Ex-Paddy Power pros put pressure for reform on investors

The Financial Times ran a feature earlier this week on Stop Gambling Harm, an industry lobbying group set up by Paddy Power founder Stewart Kenny, the operator’s first institutional investor Ian Armitage and Fintan Drury, who served as a consultant to the business in its start-up phase before spending six years as its non-executive chairman.

According to the FT, the lobbying group has its sights set firmly on institutional investors and legislators, where it aims to apply pressure aimed at generating significant change in the industry with a focus on responsible gambling legislation.

Stop Gambling Harm’s website lists its key objectives as the establishment of more restrictive gambling controls for customers aged under 25, the introduction of mandatory deposit limits, a complete ban on VIP schemes and free bets, mandatory separation of sports betting and online casino accounts to prevent cross-selling of products, the introduction of a £2 stake limit for online slots and rigorous controls on gambling advertising around sport.

“Legislators have shown themselves to be slow,” Drury was quoted as saying in the piece. “It’s the institutional owners who have the power.” 

The piece suggests the group tried, and failed, to tighten industry restrictions from the inside while working with Paddy Power, and has decided that a more effective route will be to pressure investors directly.

Market expansion brings RG to the fore in US

Forbes cast its eye stateside on Wednesday to pose the sort of questions we’re not yet accustomed to hearing with regards to the US online gambling market.

Rather than tie itself in knots over how and when online gaming businesses in the Land of the Free will eventually turn to profit, the mag posed a bigger question — about what the negative effects of the rapid expansion of sports betting and iGaming might be, for both individuals and society.

“Turn on your local sports radio station, segue over to ESPN or hop on an internet discussion forum and you’ll find these mediums are now saturated with sports gambling information,” author Zack Jones opined.

It’s a familiar discussion to many of us in Europe, where concerns around the advertising and marketing of online gambling have been at the forefront of the conversation for several years now.

Following rapid three-year growth, Jones suggested: “The country’s aggregate gambling revenue will hit an incredible $44bn in ’22. This figure nearly equates to that of the cumulative total of music, books and movies.”

And while most within the gaming world consider it to be on a par with the aforementioned products — that is, just good old-fashioned entertainment — Jones wrote: “The widespread legalisation of sports gambling will undoubtedly create hundreds of thousands or even millions of gambling addicts, many of whom lose their homes, vehicles, families and dignity.”

On the other hand, he was keen to point out the positive impact gaming can have upon a society. “Gambling directly benefits the state coffers, providing essential revenue used to advance the greater good. 

“Federal taxes are paid on sports gambling winnings, meaning the industry ultimately serves as a driver of nationwide utilitarianism. This social benefit greatly outweighs the social cost of the rapidly rising industry, serving as a rising economic tide with the potential to lift all boats,” Jones concluded.

Buffalo beef for Bigwinboard

Online casino affiliate Bigwinboard found itself in the middle of an ongoing beef this week, after it was hit with a trademark abuse complaint from Australian slots specialist Aristocrat.

The affiliate published its side of the story on Wednesday, with a somewhat bemused ‘what’s-this-got-to-do-with-us?’ tone.

Indeed, the disagreement itself is not between Aristocrat and the affiliate, but between Aristocrat and Pragmatic Play.

In a bizarre twist, the Australian developer filed the complaint and told Bigwinboard that Pragmatic’s Buffalo King and Buffalo King Megaways closely resembled some of its own products — namely Buffalo Chief, Buffalo Stampede, and Buffalo Princess.

According to an email from the supplier, Aristocrat believes it owns the trademark right to “three buffalo characters running and the middle buffalo is looking directly forward”. 

Moreover, it claims that “this middle buffalo design is also nearly identical to the buffalo character used by Pragmatic Play in its Buffalo King games.”

“All things considered,” Bigwinboard said, “we do have to admit that the star of Aristocrat’s and Pragmatic Play’s slots do look like buffaloes, and they are looking directly forward, so we’ll have to leave it up to the courts to decide this one. 

“Woe betide anyone else who uses a forward-looking buffalo to front their game. Oh wait, we’ve pretty much got a veritable stampede of them already,” the site concluded.

With the kind of comic timing that can’t be taught, Push Gaming yesterday revealed its new Bison Battle slot, which left us furiously googling the difference between buffaloes and bison. They do look remarkably similar – just don’t tell Aristocrat!

About the author

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Conor Mulheir

Conor entered the gaming industry in 2018 producing high-level live event content for audiences in London, Amsterdam and São Paulo. From 2020, he went on to report news and commission exclusive content for various gaming media brands before joining iGaming NEXT as editor in January 2022.

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