News Summary for March 2022: Gaming, Crypto & Payments

Fast Offshore brings you the top Gaming, Payments and Crypto news in March 2022.

Ontario set to launch local gambling sector

Ontario is set to launch its new online gambling marketplace on 4 April. During the run-up to the launch date, several big names in the industry have announced they received licenses. They include BetMGM, PoinsBet, 888, FanDuel, and Bet365. Up until now, single sports betting has been legal in the country, but in Ontario, it was centralised within one company.  But as of the first week of April, approved operators will have the freedom to offer their services online. 

In order to operate in the province, operators will have to register with the Alcohol and Gaming Commission and obtain an agreement with iGaming Ontario. The Commission said, “The AGCO continues to work with and help prepare operators and gaming-related suppliers for the launch of Ontario’s new iGaming market on April 4, 2022,” adding that “Not every operator will be ready to launch their services on day one. Some are more ready than others. This means Ontario’s new iGaming market will steadily expand in the weeks and months following the market’s launch.

Meta files eight blockchain, crypto and metaverse trademark applications

Meta, the company, formerly known as Facebook, has filed a total of eight new trademark applications that relate to a number of cryptocurrency, blockchain and metaverse areas. They include cryptocurrency wallets, cryptocurrency exchanges, crypto trading, and blockchain software, as well as a cryptocurrency. The applications were filed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office on 18 March. 

The company’s lawyer said they would form a blueprint for how the company plans to work within the metaverse. “The goods and services of those applications extended far beyond just the run-of-the-mill NFT [non-fungible tokens] and metaverse products that a lot of applications include,” he said, adding that, “Only a company that has this size of the scale and has a hand in the evolution and development of the metaverse can possibly plan on doing everything in these applications.

Meta is one of many companies that have recently made similar moves, including Burger King, Panera Bread, Panda Express, and Mcdonald’s. This comes off the back of investment bank Goldman Sachs saying the metaverse could be an $8 trillion opportunity with JPMorgan and HSBC both starting working in the area.

BlackRock confirms serving clients with digital currencies

The CEO of the world’s largest assets manager, BlackRock, has confirmed that they are looking at how best to serve customers using cryptocurrencies. Larry Fink said there was increased interest from clients around digital currencies, marking a sharp change from his views in 2021, where he said there was little demand. It now seems likely that the company will start offering cryptocurrency trading to its clients. 

In his comments, Fink added that the Russian war in Ukraine would elevate the use of cryptocurrencies for the purpose of lower-cost cross-border transactions. “A global digital payment system, thoughtfully designed, can enhance the settlement of international transactions while reducing the risk of money laundering and corruption” he wrote. “Digital currencies can also help bring down costs of cross-border payments, for example, when expatriate workers send earnings back to their families” he added.

EU passes package to reign in big tech

European Union lawmakers have passed a landmark package of laws called the Digital Markets Act. The regulations form part of the EU’s aim to better regulate the internet, as well as provide clarity on innovations such as digital currency and other forms of digital assets. The idea is also to level the playing field for big and small operators, penalising so-called ‘gatekeepers’ for unfair market dominance. 

Under the new rules, companies will face restrictions on targeted advertising and certain messaging platforms will have to integrate services with smaller platforms. The laws will now be passed to the European Parliament where it will then have to be ratified by the bloc’s 27 member states.

LG expands into blockchain and cryptocurrency 

One of the world’s biggest electronics brands, Korean-owned LG has announced it will branch out into crypto and blockchain software solutions. According to local media, the two objectives were added to their business strategy during the annual general meeting this month. They specifically mention “the development and selling of blockchain-based software” and “the sale and brokerage of cryptocurrency”. 

Various rumours about LG launching a cryptocurrency exchange have been swirling for several months now. A spokesperson dodged questions when asked, saying “nothing has been decided yet. We just mentioned business areas in a broad manner.” Earlier this year, however, the CEO of Bithumb Heo Baek-young said they were working with a “large company” to create an NFT marketplace. This led to speculation that LG could be the big company in question.

Crypto companies risk having to leave UK

As of 31 March 2022, any cryptocurrency company operating in the UK will have to be licensed with the Financial Conduct Authority or face having to leave. All companies operating with crypto and digital assets are bound by the new rules designed to crack down on money laundering. The deadline was already extended, thus allowing companies like Revolut which was on a temporary register, to continue operating while they sought full authorisation. 

But as of next week, the register closes. The authorities said many companies were forced to withdraw their applications as they failed to meet the requirements. Some companies say the regulator has been slow to approve applications and has at times, been unresponsive.

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