UK betting giants offer £100m to gambling charities in bid to fight off tighter controls

A combined effort from the five biggest players in the UK sports betting industry have made a £100 million ($128 million) pledge to the British government in hope to stave off increased regulatory controls that could potentially shackle future growth and innovation of the industry.

The UK’s biggest betting brands are desperate to improve the image of the industry, and fear that the next regulatory rules may be just around the corner.

Public opinion has generally turned against the gambling industry over the past few years. As a result, the industry has seen stricter regulation and taxes. A handful of the smaller companies have since ceased to do business.

Amid calls for a mandatory betting levy to fund problem gambling programs and research, the betting industry has decided to make the first move.

This week a letter was sent to the British government, signed by Bet365, Ladbrokes Coral (GVC), Paddy Power Betfair, Skybet and William Hill. The latter pledges to increase the current voluntary levy tenfold – from 0.1% of gross gaming revenue to 1% over the course of the next five years.

This would potentially increase the levy from £10 million raised last year, to £100 million.

A UK Gambling Commission study concluded that gambling charities collectively need around £70 million ($89 million) per year to provide the level of staff, research, and treatment necessary to understand and combat problem gambling.

Fantasy sports revenue up 35% in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania’s sportsbooks reported nearly $2.9 million in gross revenue last month, according to data from the state’s gaming commission.

In addition, Philadelphia’s SugarHouse Casino became the first in the state of Pennsylvania to offer online sports betting last month, handling more than $573,000 in bets during a three-day test.

This led to $38,753 in revenue to the casino and $13,951 in state and local taxes.

Overall, Pennsylvania’s eight sportsbooks processed $35.9 million in bets for the month of May alone. State and local coffers received just over $1 million in tax revenue.

Furthermore, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board announced on Wednesday that the fantasy sports providers generated $1.8 million in revenue last month. This marks a 35.4% increase from May 2018.

FanDuel and DraftKings – the two largest players in the market, both reported large increases.

FanDuel’s $960,155 in revenue was up 42.7% from the same period last year, while the $813,346 reported by DraftKings represented an 28.7% increase.

Pennsylvania players spent a total of $16.4 million on fantasy sports contests in May.

Ninja casino stripped of Swedish license in less than 7 months

Sweden’s new gambling regulatory body, Spelinspektionen,has claimed its first scalp, with the new regime only being setup over six months ago.

Ninja Casino’s promotional material helped the brand win awards in Scandinavia, but regulators were not so favourable to hand out plaudits on Monday when they revoked the company’s license to operate.

Spelinspektionen announced it had revoked the license of SafeEnt Ltd, a subsidiary of Sweden’s own Global Gaming 555 (GG), for “serious deficiencies in the company’s operations, including applicable gaming responsibility and measures against money laundering.”

In January, GG was awarded “Operator of the Year” at the EGR Nordic Gaming Awards. Regulators less so, on Monday.

Spelinspektionen said it had found serious and systematic failures of the company’s anti-money laundering and anti-terror financing procedures, risk assessment, and bonus programs.

The company had “violated several of the most central parts of the new gaming laws,” and lacked “understanding of important parts of the regulations that govern its operations,” it added.

Russian poker player Liliya Novikova found dead in bathroom

Russia’s Channel 5 have reported the death of poker player and esports star, Liliya Novikova, also known as “Liay5,” as the 26-year-old was found dead in her bathroom in Moscow on Wednesday, apparently from a massive electric shock.

Dubbed “Russia’s most beautiful poker player” by her country’s media, Novikova was a former PokerStars Pro and avid Twitch streamer. She had a very large following in her home country that made her the most popular female poker streamer on the platform, with nearly 25,000 followers.

According to Russian news, Novikova had been home alone at the apartment she shared with her parents on the affluent Kutuzovsky Prospekt in central Moscow. Her parents became worried when they were unable to reach Liliya on her phone and asked a neighbour to check on her. The neighbor found her body on the bathroom floor.

A post-mortem has yet to be completed, but investigators said the absence of signs of violence on Novikova’s body suggested her death was accidental. Preliminary checks on the body suggested signs of electric shock trauma.

She was believed to have been blow-drying her hair in the moments leading up to her death and reports have suggested the hairdryer may have been faulty. It’s believed she may have banged her head as a result of the electric shock.

By the age of 22, Liliya Novikova had gained PokerStars “Supernova Elite” status – the highest ranking on the site, where she was a specialist in hyper-turbo six-max sit-and-gos.

Her biggest dent on the live tournament scene was when she won the EPT Prague NLH Deepstack event in 2015 for $54,068.