How do you solve a problem like crypto?
In the Financial Times this week, business columnist Helen Thomas argued that governments shouldn’t treat crypto like gambling – “even if it is largely pointless.”
Reporting from the world’s “biggest bitcoin event” in Miami, Florida – where attendance was about half as strong as it had been this time last year – Thomas noted that “some of the buzz and meme coins are gone,” as was the crypto industry’s “sense of indestructibility.”
Having faced several major challenges and crises over the past 12 months, the world of crypto has battled against those who would seek to bring it down.
Not least among them are governments, with US agencies launching “a slew of enforcement actions in the sector,” and politicians in Westminster recommending cryptocurrencies be regulated as gambling.
For Thomas, that meant “an influential parliamentary committee suggested that crypto was, not disruptive or renegade, but worse: borderline irrelevant.”
Indeed, parliamentarians in the Treasury select committee judged currencies like Bitcoin to have “no intrinsic value” and serve “no useful purpose,” instead suggesting that trading cryptocurrencies was hardly different at all from backing the favourite in the 5:50 at Sandown or lumping it all on 17 in roulette.
This “dismissive” approach was wrong, in Thomas’ view, as she argued that even though cryptocurrencies themselves may have failed to clearly elucidate the use cases of distributed ledger technology, that doesn’t mean it is totally without utility.
“The industry still does a very bad job of explaining things,” said Oliver Linch, chief executive of Bittrex Global. “It’s been wink wink … if you know, you know, to the moon nonsense.”
Lawyer Marc Jones went on to suggest that “to say [cryptocurrency] is gambling makes no sense legally,” with Thomas adding that it also wouldn’t contribute to effective regulation of the sector.
And all this at a time when “UK gambling regulation is still trying to catch up with the invention of the smartphone.”
Still, there remains a challenge in working out who exactly should be looking after the crypto sector – should it be the gambling world or the finance world?
Thomas suggests that “dividing responsibility between regulators would be a mistake. The crypto universe doesn’t neatly split into conceivably useful and definitely pointless.”
For the time being, she suggests that financial regulators still seem the most likely contenders for the position of Bitcoin watchmen in the future, with the latest report “unlikely to prompt a change of direction from the government.”
Unlikely, perhaps. But stranger things have happened.
UAE casino still a gamble
Wynn Resorts’ much discussed project to bring the first casino resort to the United Arab Emirates was the subject of another story in Forbes this week.
The article suggested that the cost of developing the resort is likely to push the local government of Ras Al-Khaimah – one of the seven emirates that make up the UAE, and the first to develop plans for a casino – into a fiscal deficit.
The integrated resort is expected to open its doors in 2027 after ground was first broken on the project earlier this year.
For a small economy like Ras Al-Khaimah, however, Forbes said “the project represents a giant gamble.”
The development is set to cost close to $4bn, equivalent to some 32% of the emirate’s total GDP last year.
RAK Hospitality and Al-Majran Island, two state-owned companies, are developing the project together with Wynn and are assumed to hold a majority stake in the venture once it’s up and running.
According to a report from Fitch Ratings, however, the resort is expected to “weigh on public finances initially” before boosting growth prospects and national revenues in the longer term.
The development will likely push the government’s budget into a 0.1% deficit this year and 0.2% in 2024, according to Fitch, as a result of the cash injections needed to build the resort.
On the upside, however, the ongoing construction work should boost the emirate’s GDP by one percentage point this year and three points in 2024, with real GDP in those years set to grow 4.4% and 5.1% respectively.
And, with the resort set to be the only destination of its kind in the surrounding region, there’s no telling how much it could generate once it arrives.
A fine mess at Meta
Dominating discussions earlier this week was Meta’s record-breaking €1.2bn fine in the EU, as reported by Bloomberg, which was levied on the social media giant just a couple of days before the fifth anniversary of the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
The Facebook owner was ordered to cough up, and to stop transferring user data to the US within the next five months, after regulators said it had failed to protect personal information from American security services.
The Irish Data Protection Commission said continued data transfers to the US didn’t address “the risks to the fundamental rights and freedoms” of the people the data belonged to, and were promptly deemed unlawful.
The decision had been widely expected, according to Bloomberg, as there was already some precedent here. The last time Meta’s transfer of data between the EU and US came to under inspection by regulators in 2022, the company threatened to pull its Facebook and Instagram services out of the region entirely.
This time, Meta said it would appeal the latest decision, which it described as “flawed” and “unjustified”. It will also immediately seek a suspension of the banning orders on its transfers of data, which it said would cause harm to the “millions of people who use Facebook every day.”
According to Meta’s chief legal officer Jennifer Newstead and former UK Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg (who for some reason is now Meta’s president of global affairs), the rules risk chopping up the internet “into national and regional silos, restricting the global economy and leaving citizens in different countries unable to access many of the shared services we have come to rely on.”
Any appeals from Meta will have to be filed in Ireland, and will take months at best to be resolved.
It seems that while the internet might make it seem like we live in a world without borders, that doesn’t mean companies like Meta can simply ignore them.
Loving life after being laid off
Bloomberg ran an interesting feature this week on those learning to love being laid off.
US employers slashed more than 100,000 jobs last month, primarily in the tech sector. Reporter Claire Ballentine points out that while getting laid off is often considered a crisis, it can also be quite liberating.
“No regular 9-5 role means more time for hobbies and passion projects, some of which can be turned into new careers. Others are simply catching up on sleep,” she writes.
Profiled in the piece is Bobin Singh, whose reaction to being laid off as a social media producer at an LA-based esports company was one of jubilation.
Now he is free to focus on freelance video editing, especially for short-form videos on TikTok.
Other coping strategies included getting straight back into work, switching to consultancy or booking a one-way ticket to Guatemala.
According to career coach Rana Rosen, employment crises can help people take new risks or embrace changes they may never have otherwise considered.
How many people in iGaming could benefit from a break or a jump outside of our comfort zone? More than many might care to admit.
How do you solve a problem like match fixing?
The Washington Post turned its eye to the murky world of match fixing this week, as journalist Timothy O’Brien examined whether the proliferation of online sports betting in the US brings increased risks for sport integrity.
The author pointed to recent scandals in the snooker world – with 10 Chinese professional players currently under investigation for match-fixing charges – as well as the significant risk of fraudulent betting activity across a wealth of other sports, to show that match-fixing is showing no signs of slowing down.
“Match fixing exists because gambling exists, in much the same way that insider trading exists because the stock market exists,” O’Brien suggested. “It’s where the money is.”
Although it has been taking place consistently for an indeterminate period of time, match fixing is “now more frequent and ubiquitous” according to analysts, thanks to the increased proliferation of online and mobile sports betting.
“Odds and wagers are offered on a global buffet of different sports – and all of them are potentially corruptible,” he said.
The author spoke with representatives from a variety of organisations including Sportradar – which offers one of the gambling industry’s best known anti-corruption programmes – as well as spending time with pro gamblers and Native American gambling operators in the US, to learn more about the world of sport corruption.
And with the Super Bowl coming up this weekend in the US, the growing potential for match fixing has become an increasingly hot topic stateside.
The integrity of the NFL is relatively secure, the author argues, as players, coaches and others within the league are handsomely remunerated and therefore at lower risk of being tempted by the ill-gotten spoils of match fixing.
In other sports, leagues and geographies, however, the allure is all too strong.
The piece points to college leagues in particular, where student athletes who “aren’t properly compensated, remain ripe targets for corruption as the sports gambling boom accelerates.”
“If you needed to design a league that would incentivise corruption, it would be very difficult not to do better than the National Collegiate Athletic Association,” match fixing expert Declan Hill told The Post.
“They don’t get paid, a few of them get their image rights, some of them get scholarships, but those scholarships are, in most cases, instantly voided if they get injured. This is a recipe for disaster.”
So, while the NFL might appear rock solid, the risk of match fixing in sports is going nowhere. And the increasing number of betting options for punters across the US may only serve to make it even riskier.
DAZN’s billion dollar bet on the NFL
A new 10-year deal between DAZN and the NFL – for the rights to stream NFL Game Pass International to customers worldwide – is likely to be worth around $1bn, according to an article released by Forbes this week.
The deal was announced initially by the Hollywood Reporter, but no financial terms were disclosed at that time.
An NFL insider who spoke to Forbes on the condition of anonymity, however, said the deal was likely worth around $100m per season for the next 10 years, bringing the total value of the agreement to an eye-watering sum.
DAZN has distributed the NFL Game Pass in Canada since 2017 and has been the league’s broadcast partner in Germany and Japan since 2016, as well as in Italy since 2018.
Football fans outside the US will be able to watch every league regular-season and post-season game on NFL Game Pass International, including the Super Bowl, from the 2023 season onwards.
The pass also offers access to NFL Network and NFL RedZone programming, as well as a library of NFL Films and NFL Media programming, all available on demand.
According to Forbes: “Last summer, NFL Game Pass was rebranded to NFL+, with the NFL folding free local game live-streaming into the app, allowing fans to see games in their market on a mobile device in addition to catching replays.”
NFL+ also offers other features besides its on-demand content, including out-of-market preseason games and live radio broadcasts of all games.
DAZN said in its 2022 annual review that it has 15 million subscribers, the majority of which are outside of the US.
PE-backed firms prepare for emergency landing
Betting and gaming giant 888 received a shout-out in a Bloomberg Law article this week as one of several major companies to take on a massive debt at, quite possibly, the worst imaginable time in recent history.
The operator’s acquisition of William Hill International “left the combined firm with a much greater debt structure than anticipated due to deteriorating macroeconomic conditions,” Bloomberg said.
But 888 is not alone in its precarious debt structure. The firm was included in a broader story on how a surge in private equity activity across Europe in recent years has “loaded hundreds of companies up with debt, eroded their credit ratings, and left many of them vulnerable to bankruptcy as an economic recession approaches.”
Last year saw 762 PE buyouts in Western Europe, for a total value of $336bn – the highest figure seen since 2007, Bloomberg pointed out.
Now, higher borrowing costs associated with rising interest rates will put pressure on such businesses, according to Moody’s Investors Services, especially given that those backed by PE tend to be funded with floating-rate debt.
As a result, some 70% of European junk-rated companies are at risk of default, Moody’s said.
Here’s hoping some of these firms manage to take off before that happens.
Living in a fantasy world
Forbes published a piece this week to examine how unregulated bookies manage to sneak under the radar of unsuspecting regulators stateside.
According to the article, there are a plethora of unlicensed operators currently offering sports betting across state lines in the US (in possible contravention of the Wire Act, the piece added) under the guise of daily fantasy sports.
While Forbes accepted the New York Times had recent and legitimate concerns regarding the regulated industry, “there should perhaps be an even greater concern about another form of sports gambling operators – those that operate on the web without a licence, and thus without any regulation whatsoever.”
The piece pointed out what those inside the industry already know: that many of the advantages of using a regulated betting operator – consumer protection, responsible gambling measures, and so on – are absent when it comes to offshore operators offering sports betting disguised as DFS – and we aren’t talking about the sofa store that loves a sale.
“Companies that are offering against-the-house prop betting are pretending to be fantasy sports, even though they could theoretically attempt to secure sports betting licences, operate on an intrastate basis, increase their minimum age of entry, and thereby operate legally. And, yet, still they are not,” the piece said.
The article said it was “odd” that state regulators have not attempted to tackle the problem of unlicensed operators posing as DFS platforms. “Odder still” is that regulated operators also haven’t taken their offshore counterparts to task on their offerings.
Then again, operators and regulators have enough on their plates at the moment in dealing with the fallout of that New York Times coverage.
Is crypto ready to come in from the cold?
This year has provided a steep learning curve for crypto enthusiasts, according to a terrific article in Investopedia this week.
Highlighting some of the key lessons learnt during 2022, the author wrote: “Decentralised finance, or DeFi, is vulnerable to hacks. A Stablecoin is anything but. And the collapse of a single leading crypto exchange can send shockwaves worldwide.”
The ‘crypto winter’ has lasted for a lot longer than one season and is showing no signs of improvement, according to the article, although there are, still, a few reasons to be cheerful.
An increase in the uptake of crypto in mainstream circles – with leading financial institutions and the US government beginning to take an interest – as well as increased efficiencies on the Ethereum network (saving up to 99.95% of its previous energy consumption, according to the piece) both point to positive developments within the industry.
Has anyone got any straws we can clutch?
The piece goes on to give an impressively in-depth run down of the potential changes coming in 2023, as well as a look back on the events that brought us to this point.
The Russia-Ukraine war, the collapse of cryptocurrency Terra and crushed consumer sentiment earlier in 2022 all shaped the story of how we got here.
Meanwhile the birth of Ethereum 2.0, the continuing introduction of rules and regulations by governments around the world, and the recent controversial collapse of exchange platform FTX all get put under the microscope.
The article concludes that crypto could come back stronger after this year’s various collapses.
“In 2023, crypto will likely to move toward the mainstream, and the market will innovate, but it will also face increased scrutiny and possible regulations.”
If the author is to be believed, perhaps it’s time for crypto enthusiasts to come in from the cold and start preparing for spring.
The kids aren’t alright
The Times this week put its focus on the prevalence of gambling-related harm among minors, as it quoted from Gambling Commission data showing 3.5% of children aged 11 to 16 (one in 29) either struggled with a betting addiction or showed signs of developing one.
This, it suggested, is akin to one child in every secondary school classroom in the UK showing some signs of gambling-related harm.
Under Gambling Commission definitions, problem gamblers were defined as children who gambled with “negative consequences and a possible loss of control”.
The piece also pointed out that more girls than boys now have a gambling problem, after the proportion with a betting addiction tripled over the past two years.
The Gambling Commission was quick to suggest the finding was not statistically significant, however, and was more likely the result of changes to the questions it asked since last conducting the survey, meaning the latest results were not directly comparable to previous ones.
A total of 0.9% of young girls and 0.7% of young boys were identified as having a gambling problem by the regulator.
The most common forms of gambling undertaken by children – perhaps unsurprisingly – include arcade gaming machines, placing bets for money between friends or family and playing cards for money with friends or family.
In addition, one in 50 children had managed to play lottery games despite the over-18 age limit placed on the products.
According to Henrietta Bowden-Jones, director of the National Problem Gambling Clinic, “There is not enough protection of children when it comes to exposure to gambling cues … adverts on social media or gambling logos and ads when sports are being watched. Gambling has been normalised in an ever-increasing manner over the past 15 years since the implementation of the 2005 Gambling Act.
“[This is] a generation who no longer see gambling as something that belongs to the adult world. It is now seen as a common pastime and within reach due to the internet and to its close links to sport. There is an urgent need to review this exposure in the Gambling Review in order to reverse the process and protect future generations.”
A spokesperson for the Betting and Gaming Council, meanwhile, pointed out that: “Our members take a zero-tolerance approach to betting by children. The most popular forms of betting by children are legal arcade games like penny pusher and claw grab machines, bets between friends and fruit machines – not with our members.”
It’s coming to America
Forbes provided some insight into expected betting activity on the 2022 World Cup in Qatar – the first edition of football’s biggest tournament since the repeal of PASPA in 2018.
According to the article, punters across the globe are expected to lay down bets in excess of $160bn on the tournament – with more than €1bn being wagered on each of its 64 matches.
In fact, the $160bn figure comes from the 2018 World Cup in Russia, and betting trends are only expected to go one way this time round.
Since it is the first World Cup to take place since the repeal of PASPA in the US in 2018, and the subsequent tidal wave of newly regulated markets opening up across the country, an estimated 20.5 million Americans are expected to place a bet on the tournament.
Handle from the US is likely to come in at around $1.8bn across the whole tournament, according to a study published by the American Gaming Association (AGA), making it the most bet-on World Cup in US history.
“It’s a very safe bet to say that this will be the most bet upon soccer event in American betting history,” said Casey Clark, senior vice president at the AGA. “The biggest sporting event in the world is going to attract a bigger handle than it has before.”
At the time of the last World Cup in 2018, bettors could only get in on the action in Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware. Now, punters across some 30 states will have access to regulated sports betting in some form or another.
And the biggest exposure for bookies in the US appears to be punters backing their own team.
While the odds of a victory for the US Men’s National Soccer Team are slim – their best ever result was reaching the semi-finals in 1930 (when the team boasted six British-born players, incidentally) and they failed to qualify for the 2018 tournament in Russia – an unexpected victory could cause havoc for US bookies.
DraftKings is taking bets on the team to win the tournament at 130/1, for example, and would stand to lose a colossal amount if it had to pay out on bets placed at that price.
“The public always bets the United States,” said John Murray, director of the Superbook at Westgate Las Vegas. “As much as I’d love to see them win the tournament, that’s pretty unlikely.”
Gambling with pensions
Responsible investing has come in for a great deal of criticism in 2022. The list of companies and countries that are accused of not being as ESG-friendly as promoted is getting longer by the day.
The Guardian this week reported that Australia’s biggest superannuation funds, which are employer-sponsored retirement accounts, have invested more than A$4.2bn of workers’ retirement savings into the gambling industry, even as part of investment plans that claim to be “socially aware”.
Analysing portfolio holdings disclosures for the most popular investment options offered by the 10 biggest superannuation funds, the newspaper revealed that all funds invest in Aristocrat Leisure, owning a total of at least A$1.67bn worth of shares.
Moreover, the newspaper pointed out that the “socially aware” option of the country’s biggest fund – the AustralianSuper – has invested A$16m in Aristocrat and nearly A$45m in four of the six biggest publicly listed gambling companies in the country.
According to a spokesperson of the fund, AustralianSuper did not exclude particular industries other than tobacco, while the active engagement with the gambling sector would help ensure “high standards of responsible gaming and appropriate governance practices are in place.”
The newspaper also revealed that Australia’s third biggest super fund, Aware, which promises to “invest your super in ways that will do good for your community”, was also a big holder of gambling stocks.
A spokesperson for Aware commented: “We invest across an exceptionally wide and diverse range of industries and the gambling sector is just one of these. Importantly, members with ethical concerns around the gambling sector can choose one of our socially responsible investment options, which have no gambling exposure.”
The retail employee fund, Rest, had meanwhile invested A$400,000 in Australia’s largest slot machine manufacturer Endeavour, despite claiming that their investment scope excludes companies generating more than 5% of their revenue from gambling.
A spokesperson for the fund said Endeavour did not breach the gambling exclusion and outlined that all decisions had been made in the best financial interest of the fund members.
Going on a bear hunt?
BBC News gave us a round-up of downturns taking place across stock markets globally this week, after the US central bank announced its biggest interest rate hike in 22 years.
Following the increase, major share indexes across the world began to drop like flies.
“Hong Kong’s benchmark Hang Seng index fell by 3.8%, while shares on the Shanghai Stock Exchange were down by 2.2%. Australia’s ASX 200 closed 2.2% lower.
“Those falls followed the Dow index, which includes big names such as Apple and Nike, sliding on Thursday by more than 1,000 points to end 3.1% lower. The wider S&P 500 fell 3.6%, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq plummeted by almost 5%,” the piece explained.
Other macroeconomic factors, including Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, are thought to be having an additional impact, as the increase in energy prices as a result of the conflict continues to weigh upon the wallets of individuals around the globe.
And the effects could still be far from over. US government figures released this month showed the country’s economy contracted by 1.4% during the first quarter of 2022.
The latest tumbles in share prices have left a big gap between where markets were in January and where they are today. Since the beginning of the year, the Dow is down almost 10%, while the S&P 500 has dropped by 13%, and the Nasdaq has collapsed by 22%.
For those hoping to capitalise on bargain stocks as markets continue to fall, Forbes brought us the following word of warning from Jim Stack, founder and president of InvesTech Research.
“The one thing you learn in a bear market is that forecasting the bottom is like catching a falling pitchfork. It’s a spectacular feat if you pull it off, but it’s painful and dangerous to try.
“One of the dangers in anticipating a bottom lies an understanding that the showdown between Fed policy and inflation is just beginning.”
Hoping for a five star review
The Racing Post got stuck into UK gambling regulation this week, with a piece on Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) chief executive Michael Dugher’s demand for an evidence-based approach to the Gambling Act review currently taking place.
Dugher argues that the review should be carefully balanced, after research found that the rate of problem gambling in the UK had decreased from 0.4% of the population to 0.2%.
“These latest figures showing that problem gambling is falling once again will no doubt come as a profound disappointment to anti-gambling prohibitionists,” Dugher said.
“It should be a warning to ministers to ensure future changes are carefully balanced, proportionate and targeted.
“They are further evidence of that positive progress and underline our calls for ministers to take a genuinely evidence-based approach to the upcoming white paper and not pander to the anti-gambling lobby.”
Dugher also insisted that the majority of gamblers in the UK do so responsibly, and warned that any significant affordability checks could lead them to bet with unlicensed black market bookies.
Bally’s adds a big plus to its portfolio
Bally’s is set to become the latest big gaming firm to traverse the division between the gambling, sports and media industries, with the upcoming launch of its new sports streaming service, Bally Sports+.
Sportico put out a piece this week explaining that the streaming service, built on the Bally Sports regional network brand, is expected to soft launch next month, with access costing $188.99 per year or $19.99 per month.
“The initial launch will enable the validation of the quality and reliability of the product prior to the full DTC rollout of the Bally Sports Regional Sport Networks planned for September,” said Sinclair Broadcasting Group CEO Chris Ripley.
“In the months after launch, we expect to roll out an enhanced DTC product incorporating additional functionality, content and features, with incremental ways to monetise the viewer through a more personalised, interactive experience.”
As you might have guessed, that likely means the addition of gambling functionality is becoming increasingly likely in the world of sports streaming.
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!