Fast Offshore brings you the top news from Gambling, Fintech, and Crypto in January 2022.
Sweden abandons controversial deposits cap
The Swedish government has scrapped plans to introduce a cap on deposits for online gambling operators. The decision applies to those running casino sites and means deposits will no longer be capped at EUR 384. At the start of January, the government announced they would reintroduce a series of measures for the gambling sector, including the cap. A previous cap had already been in place for most of 2020 and 2021. The revised figure of EUR 384 was due to come into force on 27 January, but the government abandoned the initiative at the last moment. Industry stakeholders have said it was the right decision as the previous cap did nothing to reduce gambling harm.
We are in favour of strong regulation of the gaming market. A prerequisite for this is that the intention with various reforms can also be expected to have the intended effect. That was not the case with the covid restrictions, and it is, therefore, welcome that they are withdrawn.”Secretary-General of industry group BOS
While this measure has been revoked, a raft of others could soon be introduced. These include a gambling software license for any supplier offering services in the country. In addition, they proposed a ban on illegal gambling advertising and the moderation of legal gambling advertising.
Italian online gambling revenue hits all-time high
December 2021 was a record month for the Italian online gambling sector as it surpassed the previous levels seen in May. Despite the promising figures, revenue was down some 13% on the same month in 2020. Some EUR 312 million was recorded during December, up from the EUR 304 in November.
The main driver of the growth was the online casino sector, with EUR 165.5 million of the total. As for the companies leading the industry, Playtech took 9.1%, followed by Sisal with 8.5% and Pokerstars with 8.2%. It was also a good month for poker, which hit the highest since April 2020. Pokerstars remained dominant while bingo saw its highest figures since May. As for the whole year, the total revenue peaked at EUR 3.46 billion, an increase of over 46% on the year before.
UK commission slaps operator with GBP 3.8 million fine
The UK Gambling Commission has fined online gambling operator Genesis with a fine of GBP 3.8 million, following the suspension of its license for three months in 2021. The suspension was dolled out due to suspicious money laundering and social responsibility failures. While the company made some improvements, the Commission did not see enough improvement and levied the fine against them. Genesis, which owns 14 sites, including casinoplanet.com and genesiscasino.com, will undergo extensive auditing to keep its license.
All gambling businesses should pay very close attention to this case. The commission will use all tools at its disposal to ensure consumer safety, and that extends to stopping a business from actually operating. Failing to follow the rules aimed at keeping gambling safe and crime-free will never be a viable business option for gambling businesses in Britain.”Helen Venn, Executive Director of the Commission.
The Commission said Genesis had failed to respond adequately to a customer who spent a quarter of a million pounds in two months, despite knowing they were an NHS nurse on GB 30,000 a year. They also failed to be responsible for another player who lost almost GBP 200,000 in just six months. Regarding money laundering accusations, the Commission alleges Genesis allowed a player to deposit over GBP 1.3 million and then lose GBP 600,000 without conducting proper checks.
Crypto money laundering increases by 30%
At least $8.6 billion was laundered using cryptocurrency in 2021, according to a new report by Chainalysis. This is up 30% in 2021 and could signify a forthcoming “huge blow” from authorities who are set to crack down on illegality.
Chainalysis gets its data by tracking crypto wallets used by criminals. These individuals are believed to be involved in ransomware, malware, scams, hacking, human trafficking, and terrorism. They follow the flow of coins and estimate the amount that has been laundered. The company said most cryptocurrency is laundered through exchanges.
The report said, “Law enforcement can strike a huge blow against cryptocurrency-based crime and significantly hamper criminals’ ability to access their digital assets by disrupting these services.“
The onus will now be on operators to step up their internal checks and balances; else, there will be a risk of over-regulation from the authorities. Concerns are that such a move will risk competitiveness and stifle innovation in the sector.
Crypto company quadruples in value in six months
Leading cryptocurrency platform Fireblocks has almost quadrupled in value over the last six months, having received an $8 billion valuation. Through its software and API, the company facilitates crypto services for hundreds of digital asset businesses. CEO Michael Shaulov described the company as “the most successful and least-known in the blockchain space.”
The company supports services over 25 different blockchains. It has been described as “a SaaS software that allows clients to run their own custody using their own wallets in a high-end, secure, institutional way.” Clients include eToro, Bank of New York Mellon, and BlockFi.
The valuation comes following a Series E round of funding where it got more than $550 million in investments from a group led by D1 Capital Partners and Spark Capital. This helped boost the total value of funds raised since it started in 2018, to over $1 billion. The company hopes to double its workforce by the end of 2022 by hiring customer service teams and engineers.
Apple set to turn phones into a payment terminal
Rumour has it that Apple is working on a new payment method to see smartphones transformed into a payment terminal. This will allow businesses to accept payments without needing any other equipment. Reports in the media suggest that Apple is looking at doing away with the need for third-party software or equipment and allowing the phone to accept credit and debit card payments directly. It is believed the process would utilise the NFC chip, which is currently used with Apple Pay. Bloomberg reported that the new feature could be released in an update due in the next few months.
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