We start our news roundup with a flurry of clampdowns and fines for the UK casino operators by the UK Gambling Commission. Three separate companies have been investigated for money laundering, criminal spending, and not protecting customers.
UK Gambling Commission is getting tough
As well as the fines, they are at risk of losing their gaming licenses unless they adhere to some of the regulator’s remedial advises. The three companies are BGO Entertainment Limited, GAN PLC, and NetBet Enterprises Limited. GAN PLC will get away with a rather meager fine of £146 000, but BGO has the largest fine of £2 million.
In its bid to clean up the gambling industry, the watchdog has been reviewing all the UK operators. The biggest fine ever dealt out by the UK authorities was back in 2020. Caesars failed to help its customers who were potentially problem gamblers. In one such case, a customer gambled a staggering £3.5 million in just 3 months and blew over £1.6 million. That fine was 13 million. For more information on this, see the piece in the Evening Standard.
Bonus deals offered at UK casinos are still lucrative
Online casinos in the UK are offering no deposit offers that allow players to sign up and play slots or live dealer games without making a deposit. Free spins and no deposits are the most common because the UKGC does not restrict this type of bonus. For example, freebets com lists casinos offering no deposit free spins as well as welcome bonus deals that come with free spins, and all the casinos listed have a license from the UKGC.
Proper red herring
In a bid to reduce the scrutiny from the UK regulator, UK casino operators were found to have paid an “independent” research company to inflate the extent of the black-market illegal casino and betting sites in the country. The report scaremongered that over two hundred thousand UK customers were spending £1.5 billion on illegal betting and that many more would switch if licensed operators were restricted further. This article shows how the Gambling Commission has seen through this and will continue its tough approach to the industry.
In other news, the Hard Rock brand is expanding to London. It has the Hard Rock Hotel in Marble Arch and three other cafes in the UK, two in London and one in Manchester. Now, it is set to take-over the Ritz Club Casino license to have a brick-and-mortar casino in the capital and to launch Hard Rock Digital, a division of the group that will build out an online casino and sports betting, to add to the physical land casino and capitalize on lockdown restrictions.
Other big US operators coming in for the UK assets and a slice of the UK 15 billion industry are Caesars and MGM. Caesars is already a done deal but MGM has had its advances rejected by Entain. Caesars already owned 20% of William Hill and, in September of 2020, it finalized a £2.9B takeover, making it one of the leading players in the UK market. MGM, not to be left out, went after Entain, which owns the two chains, Ladbrokes and Coral.
Just this month, MGM offered a pretty generous £8.1 billion for these assets, but Entain felt that was not enough and asked for something closer to £10 billion. MGM is playing hardball and has said that this is too much. Will it walk away from the deal and look elsewhere? We won’t know for sure because it has a six month no approach period anyway before it can make another bid under the UK corporate acquisition rules. So, let’s hope Entain hasn’t lost its chance of cashing out.
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