The wait is finally over. Rival Powered casinos were updated today with the release of Ten Suns, a new slots game themed around Chinese folklore. The game tells the tale of Hou Yi, The Divine Archer, whose enchanted arrows were able to obliterate Nine of the Ten Suns scorching the planet.
As the story goes, the Emperor and Moon Goddess, who asked Hou Yi to perform this unimaginable task, looked on as the nine suns were shot down. One by one, each sun burst with a brilliant light, then magically transformed into a legendary Phoenix before flying off into the now lone sunset.
While I generally groan at the adaptation of yet another oriental themed slot machine, I have to admit, I really enjoyed the mythological folklore behind this new slots game. Rival Powered did a great job integrating razor-shard graphics and animations to accurately relay this epic tale.
Ten Suns Slot Features
Ten Suns is a 5 reel, 25 payline slot machine design in HTML5 for optimized compatibility with all major operating system, including PC, Mac and Linux/Ubuntu desktops, as well as Android, iOS and Windows mobile devices and tablets.
The dominantly red and gold motif is highlighted by a plethora of symbols, all relating to the ancient Chinese legend. These include the Divine Archer, the Emperor, the Moon Goddess, the Phoenix, golden frogs, dragons, lotus flowers, treasure chests, lanterns, gold coins and more.
Following Chinese tradition, the golden frogs are some of the luckiest symbols in the game, awarding 1,000 coins for 5 on a line. The Divine Archer is the wild, the Dragon is a Scatter, and Treasure Chests are a scatter-style Bonus symbol.
Expanding Wilds: The Divine Archer follows the basic rules of wilds, taking the place of any other standard symbol needed to create the highest possible winning combination. He only appears on reels 2, 3 and 4. However, being a heavenly powered archer, he also has the ability to shoot arrows onto the reels whenever he substitutes for a win, randomly turning other symbols into wilds.
Scatter Free Spins: To unleash the free spins feature in this new slots game, players will need to see 3, 4 or 5 Dragons on the reels, awarding 5, 7 or 10 free games respectively. To make free spins more profitable, the five lowest paying symbols are all removed from the reels during this time.
Furthermore, free spins include a ‘Drop Icons‘ feature, which works like cascading reels. Anytime a winning combination occurs, the symbols involved in it will drop out of play and new symbols will fall into place, potentially creating more wins. The Drop Icon feature continues to drop symbols off the reels until no win is recorded.
Treasure Chest Bonus: This bonus game is triggered whenever 3 or more treasure chests appear anywhere on the reels. If a wild appears and expands, turning a treasure chest wild, the chest will still count towards activating the bonus round.
This is a Pick Me Bonus game, where the player is shown a series of treasure chest to choose from. The prizes within are instantly credited.
New Slots Game Arrives Today
As promised by its creator, the new slots game Ten Suns arrives at Rival Powered casinos today, March 29, 2017.
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A new study was published this week that indicates the global internet gambling market will continue to surge upward over the coming years. Mobile casino and sports betting are expected to dominate the industry, with Europe and Asia having the most expansive markets.
The data was gathered by Transparency Market Research (TMR), and published in a report entitled “Online Gambling and Betting Market Research Report”. It details estimated trends in online and mobile casino, poker, lottery, bingo, sports betting, and social gaming, with a forecast that analyzes growth through 2024.
Operators To Focus On Mobile
Casino gambling has been around since the dark ages of dial-up internet speeds, when only a small percentage of households even owned a computer. For decades, gambling operators and software suppliers focused their efforts towards the desktop demographic, but that’s changing.
Mobile gambling didn’t take off until the first smartphones were introduced in 2007, and it was a very slow progression at first. Now, those who enjoy mobile casino, poker and sports betting make up approximately 33% of the industry’s clientele.
TMR believes that trend will continue to develop at a rapid pace, “driven by an increasing adoption of high-speed internet services in mobile devices.”
Sports betting in particular should see immense growth in the mobile arena. TMR attributes this prediction to a high demand for mobile live streaming of sports and relative videos, which will inevitably drive bookmakers to integrate such live streaming into their mobile apps.
These advancements will be “further enhancing the growth rate of the market” over the coming years, said TMR.
Mobile Casino Dominates, Sports Betting Catching Up
According to current data, the online and mobile casino genre is heavily dominating the overall iGaming industry. In 2015, it made up a substantial 26.4% of online gambling market share.
The analysis states that internet casino games will continue to lead the pack over the coming years, but that sports betting won’t be far behind. Mobile sportsbooks are “expected to surge over the coming years due to a higher rate of adoption of live sports betting by multiple players,” said TMR.
The research predicted that online lottery and poker will also increase between now and 2024, but nowhere close to the mimicking the elevated rate of mobile casino and sports betting.
Europe Leads Global iGaming Market
Thanks predominantly to the UK, Europe has a strong lead compared to all other regions where internet gambling regulations exist. European territories generated a combined total of $19.6 billion in iGaming revenue in 2015, about 33% higher than its nearest rival, Asia Pacific.
Asia Pacific is expected to experience the highest CAGR of 12.9% through 2024. Other territories, like North America, Middle East and Africa, are expected to grow at the slowest rate. In the US, growth will be truncated by continued state-by-state hesitation to regulate the industry.
Global iGaming Revenue to Double by 2024
TMR’s report was based on data available as of December, 2016. At that time, the researchers were able to closely estimate that the online gambling industry, as a whole, would end the year with a total revenue generation of $42.63 billion.
Based on that, the study suggested that the market would grow by an estimated 10.8% CAGR over the next eight years. That would result in the industry doubling its revenue to $96.89 billion in 2024.
Did you ever search for real money mobile casino apps in the Google Play Store (for Android) or on Apple iTunes (for iOS)? There’s plenty of them out there, and the competition is quite fierce. But is it a good idea to choose the first mobile casino app you find?
The sad truth is – unlike standard search engines – app stores like Google and iTunes do not divulge how they rank the indexing of apps. Clearly, it’s not based entirely on user reviews. If I search ‘real money mobile casino‘ at the Google Play Store, the first and second listings have 4.4 stars, while the third has 4.7.
Likewise, the first option has between 10,000-50,000 installs, while the more popular third was installed between 10 million and 50 million times. The latter was also updated more recently (Jan 2017, as opposed to Aug 2016). And of course, both offer similar in-app purchases of $0.99 to $149.99.
To make matters worse, neither of them – nor any among the top 20 – actually offer real money mobile casino games. You’ll have to dig a lot deeper for that. And be careful, because not all apps in the stores are designed by their supposed namesakes.
The biggest problem is, due to age and regional restrictions, app stores often limit content to free-to-play, ‘social‘ casino games only. Fortunately, there’s a way around this. Players will have to access the real money mobile casinos apps directly from their source, such as Royal Vegas Mobile, LeoVegas Mobile, etc.
This is actually the better option, and it’s all because of that little problem we mentioned above. No one knows what incites app stores to index their mobile downloads the way they do. Instead, you’re better off looking up genuine user reviews of various real money mobile casino apps.
Researching Real Money Mobile Casino Apps
You’ll want to make sure you’re gathering your information from a reliable source. I could tell you myself that I trust Royal Vegas. It’s been around since 2000 with no major complaints, employs the strictest security measures, and offers a vast collection of popular slots, table games and live casino options. But is that going to convince you it’s the best?
Probably not – and it shouldn’t.
Every player is different. We all have individual preferences and needs. We may be from different countries, use different currencies, speak different languages, prefer different deposit methods, etc. What I find most appealing may not be your cup of tea.
The best way to find good real money mobile casino apps is to visit internet gambling forums, where real users share their experiences. If you’re not finding any complaints, and the mobile app has been around for at least a year or two (the longer the better), it’s probably a good one.
Next, you’ll want to try it out for yourself. If you’re still a bit wary, don’t deposit right away. Take advantage of the free play option. See what games are available and how well the app works. With a little personal testing, you should be able to find the best mobile casino app to suit your style and needs. When you’ve found it, then you can make a deposit and play for real money.
Thousands of desktop and smartphone casinos exist in today’s digital gambling market. Logically speaking, they can’t all be top-tier sites. Only the most prestigious, well-built and finely tuned operations can claim such status.
In the last few years, mobile casino popularity has grown to phenomenal heights. Desktop gaming sites are still well-visited, and won’t be disappearing from the iGaming realm anytime soon. But with the majority of the world’s population carrying one touch-screen mobile device or another, smartphone casinos are becoming the primary focus of the industry’s software developers.
The shift to mobile began just a few years ago, and surprisingly, most of the sites that once ruled the roost in desktop gaming have found themselves descending the proverbial ladder. It’s not that they aren’t converting their systems to support gaming on smartphones and tablets. It’s that they’re forced to take a backwards approach to it.
They’ve started with a stellar desktop platform, and that’s good. But ordering their programmers to transition that technology to something that’s ultimately compatible with all the major mobile phones and tablets – Android, Apple iOS, Windows Phone, etc. – that’s obviously easier said than done.
The key was to convert all desktop web pages to HTML5. However, as these operators began boasting that their platforms were fully optimized for mobile, the inevitable bugs began to rear their ugly heads. An error here, a miss-sized page there, a menu that didn’t agree with the programmer’s tap-to-open language.
Best Smartphone Casinos Built On Mobile
While all of these mishaps were being untangled, new smartphone casinos were appearing. These websites were being designed with a mobile-first approach, ensuring that their platform loaded seamlessly on all devices before they ever went live.
In 2012, a new mobile casino called LeoVegas hit the market. New gambling sites don’t often get a lot of attention. It can take years to establish a distinguished reputation, especially in a business such as this one. But by using the exact strategy described above, LeoVegas didn’t just make waves, it crashed upon shore, employing a phenomenal marketing campaign that drew countless players and decimated the competition.
LeoVegas Proves Mobile-First Works
The company’s mobile strategy was enormously successful, earning LeoVegas a trophy case full of awards over the next few years. It started when EGR Nordic Awards named them ‘Best Innovation in Casino‘ in 2013, followed by ‘Best Mobile Product‘ in 2014.
The next year, LeoVegas took home EGR Nordic Awards for ‘Slots Operator of the Year‘ and ‘Affiliate Program of the Year‘, as well as the ‘Grand Prize Award‘ from the GP Bullhound Summit.
In 2016, LeoVegas scooped seven more awards, including EGR Nordic’s best ‘Mobile Operator‘, ‘Casino Operator‘ and ‘Nordic Operator‘ awards. International Gaming Awards named them ‘Online Casino Operator of the Year‘, Gaming Intelligence awarded them with ‘Casino Operator of the Year‘, and EGR bestowed them with dual titles of ‘Best Mobile Marketing Campaign‘ and ‘Best CRM Campaign‘ of 2016.
One of the companies lead managers explained why he thinks LeoVegas has become on of the best smartphone casinos in the world.
“I think what makes LeoVegas different is that we had mobile in mind before we launched as a website,” he said. “Most companies do it the other way around. They launch the website with desktop in mind and then have a problem to solve when they realise they have to offer a mobile version as well…
“Because we were always thinking ‘how will this look on mobile?‘ or ‘will this create a problem on mobile?‘ from the very start, we were prepared for all that already when the app came.”
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Today’s industrial market is filled with competition. Pick any business, and you’ll likely find two juggernauts leading the way. In mobile technology, it’s iOS vs. Android. In eMerchanting, it’s Amazon vs. eBay. Even the toothpaste industry has Crest vs Colgate. In Daily Fantasy Sports, we have the two leading DFS betting giants, DraftKings vs. FanDuel.
For the last few years, these DFS sites have competed directly against one another to be the top fantasy-based, real money sports betting operators in the world. While their operations were aimed solely towards the US and Canada for a long time, they both branched out into the UK market last year, each seeking eventual global domination.
According to ESPN, DraftKings and FanDuel spent more than $750 million combined on television ads, encouraging DFS betting enthusiasts to choose one operation over the other. It was a grueling, no-holds-barred campaign from both directions. And I must say, it did work, attracting an estimated 56 million users to their DFS sites from North America alone.
But as is often the case with huge companies in a dead heat for first place, we’ve learned that the two largest fantasy-based real money sports betting companies are now about to merge.
If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Join ‘Em!
That’s right – it’s Serius and XM satellite radio all over again. DraftKings and FanDuel have already negotiated the terms of a merger. All that’s left now is that pivotal moment when government regulators stamp their seal of approval on the deal.
That’s expected to happen in the coming months, lining the DFS sites up to finalize the merger shortly into the second half of 2017; probably just in time for kick-off of the next NFL season.
Being relatively equal in size, the merger will see both companies splitting their responsibilities right down the middle.
Jason Robins, current CEO of DraftKings, will maintain his role, becoming the new CEO of the merged brand. Nigel Eccles, current CEO of FanDuel, will hop into the seat of Board Chairman. And, to keep it fair, each operator will get three seats on the new company board.
“This merger will help advance our goal of building a transformational global sports entertainment platform,” said Robins in a press release commenting the intended merger.
Eccles was equally enthusiast about the deal on ESPN.com. “Being able to combine DraftKings and FanDuel presents a tremendous opportunity for us to further innovate and disrupt the sports industry.”
“Disrupt”? Wait Just A Darn Minute…
Did Eccles really use the word, “disrupt”, to describe the DFS sites’ merger? Yes, he did, and that’s exactly what government regulators could be thinking, too.
You see, in order for a merger to be approved, it must not create a monopoly that would devastate other businesses operating in the same industry. And that could pose a huge problem for these real money sports betting aficionados.
But assuming the merger is approved – and it probably will be, just as Serius/XM was – it begs to question how punters will be effected.
As Kevin McGuire of The Comeback pointed out: “Reducing competition… could be dangerous for the consumer… there’s less incentive to keep prices (in this case, the portion of the fantasy pot taken by the company) down when there’s the perception that the player has nowhere else to play.”
“Commission Will Absolutely Not Increase”
In response to growing concern among the DFS betting community, Robins told ESPN on Friday, “The commission will absolutely not increase as a result of this merger.
“We always try to balance what’s the right commission rate to make the games fun and exciting and make everyone feel like they have a chance to win and also to create a healthy profitable company. And those are the same objectives that will exist post-merger,” he said. “We’re not foolish enough to think that we can raise commission to a level that players will just accept.”
Yeah, well, Richard Nixon said, ‘I am not a crook!‘, and George Bush senior said, ‘Read my lips – No new taxes!‘
There are no guarantees as to what will or won’t happen if/when DraftKings and FanDuel become one. But if we use the example of Serius/XM just once more, it’s worth noting that company did not issue a price hike following it’s 2008 merger until 2011, and that was based solely on inflation.
Casinos have been around for hundreds of years. Thanks to the computer geniuses that brought us the world wide web, online gambling showed up about two decades ago. As technology progressed, we gained the ability to play the same games on a mobile casino for real money in the late 2000’s.
Mobile gambling has actually been around longer than that. I believe it was 2003 Microgaming launched the very first mobile casino app, but that was in the draconian days of flip-phones with arrow-keys to make selections. In terms of modern, touch-screen technology, mobile casinos didn’t begin to flourish until about five years later.
Now days, everyone uses their Android and Apple iOS smartphones and tablets for gaming. Some prefer social games, like Candy Crush or Words with Friends. I prefer something with a bit more of a bite to it, and there’s nothing quite like the exhilaration that comes with playing a mobile casino for real money.
Every game you can imagine is available these days. Hundreds of classic and 5-reel video slots grace the menus. Video poker and table games like blackjack, baccarat, roulette, craps, three card poker, ultimate Texas holdem; I could go on and on. Thanks to HTML5 optimization, mobile casinos have it all, and you don’t even have to download an app to access them (although it is an option).
Sounds great, right? And it is – but just like those social games I mentioned above, mobile casino games can be quite addicting. The thrill of the win can be like a drug-induced high. And if we’re not careful, we could find ourselves spending a lot more money on these games than we ever intended.
It’s awfully easy to keep clicking the Spin button on the slots, or doubling up a blackjack bet to regain the previous loss. But we can avoid such problems by simply being aware of what we’re doing, and how much we’re doing it, at all times.
Appreciating the Entertainment Value
The golden rule to gambling is to appreciate it as the entertainment option that it is. You don’t go to the movies expecting to win back your price of ticket and popcorn. Playing a mobile casino for real money affords that opportunity, but you should never play with expectations of a profit.
Those who think they can just play until they win are what critics and statistical data collectors refer to as ‘problem gamblers’. No one wants to end up in that category, and if we’re conscious of our actions, we never will.
Set Strict Deposit Limits
Think about how much money you make each week. Think about the bills you have to pay each month, and the amount you spend on other necessities like food, fuel and toiletries.
Now, think about what you have to spend on entertainment. Maybe you have an extra $200 each week. You’ll want to hold onto some of that for random things, like date night or a spontaneous outing with your friends.
If you split it in half, that gives you $100 to play around with. You know you can log onto your favorite mobile casino and deposit that $100, confident that you can afford to lose that much.
Don’t worry, this isn’t a negative way of thinking. It doesn’t mean you are going to lose, or that you’re even planning to lose. It just means that if you do lose, it’s okay. That’s a huge positive in my book.
It’s also a good idea to set time limits. If you only spin the reels or play blackjack for 15 minutes at a time, chances are your bankroll will last a lot longer. And if you do run out of funds before the week is out, that’s okay, too. There’s an easy solution for that.
Switch To Free Play Mode
You don’t always have to play a mobile casino for real money. All of those games – well, the vast majority of them, at least – are also available to play for free. The only games you won’t have access to are the live dealer casino games. Because the operator pays to maintain the studio and hires professionally trained dealers to run the tables, they like to make sure there’s always cash flowing in.
All of the other games, though, can be played anytime you like without spending a single coin of your own money. Yes, the overall experience may lose some of the exhilarating bite I spoke of before, but it’s still entertaining, and it’s a great opportunity to learn how to play new games you never tried before.
Practice Before You Play for Real Money
Would you go to the track and bet on a race if you didn’t know anything about the odds or horses that were running? Hopefully not. The same goes for casino gambling. Why would you risk real money on a game that you know nothing about?
Practice mode is the perfect way to learn the rules for any game you’re unfamiliar with. You may decide you don’t like that game, or you may find it’s your new favorite. Either way, knowing how to play is imperative before you try any game at a mobile casino for real money.
Be An Opportunistic Player
Free play mode is also a great way to incorporate and fine-tune your strategies. Maybe you know all the rules of blackjack, but do you know the best times to hit, stand, double or split your cards? Intuition is a wonderful thing, but it would be unwise to deny the law of probability.
If you really want your bankroll to last as long as possible, with the highest chance of actually winning some money, developing a solid strategy is the only way to go.
If your bankroll runs dry, don’t contemplate depositing more than you can afford to lose. Instead, think of it as an opportunity to improve your play until the next payday rolls around.
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Your good at math. You have a tidy bankroll stowed away. You’ve decided it’s time to turn your stash into more extra cash by playing real money blackjack online. That’s not a bad idea, seeing as blackjack is the most profitable game in any casino – but let’s back it up a moment.
Ask yourself a few questions first. Have you ever played blackjack? Do you truly understand the rules of the game? Are you aware that there are dozens of rule variations you could come across? Have you developed an optimal strategy for the type of blackjack game you intend to play?
If you answered ‘No‘ to any of these questions, you’ll want to keep reading.
Usefulness of Free-To-Play Blackjack Apps
I know you want to play real money blackjack online, where you can actually win cash. But the best way to learn the rules and develop a proper strategy is to practice. Playing free blackjack games just for fun is the best way to accomplish that.
Not just any blackjack app will do, though. You need one that allows you to set the various rules, and provides optimal strategic data for all hands. There are some great blackjack training apps out there that offer these features, compatible with all iOS and Android mobile and tablet devices.
Some of my favorite blackjack apps include:
Know The Rules You’re Going To Play
Selecting only the best rules for the lowest house edge isn’t going to get you anywhere. There’s no casino out there that’s going to provide all the best rules on a single table. Instead, you’ll need to see what rule variations are available at the online casino you intend to play at (see next section for more info).
Because these free-to-play blackjack apps allow users to set the rules, you can enter the exact rules in the settings menu before you start practicing. This way, when you do start playing real money blackjack online, you know you’ll be working with the best possible strategy, giving you the lowest house edge and, therefore, the highest possible win rate.
Real Money Blackjack Online
Never assume that all internet blackjack sites are created equal. For every reputable operator out there, there’s a rogue operator hoping you’ll deposit with them instead. Take your time. Do your research. Find an operator with a long-standing reputation for honesty, integrity and quick, reliable payouts. Royal Vegas is a good example, as it meets all of these standards.
Also make sure players from your country are accepted, and that the deposit/withdrawal methods meet your needs. Then, peruse the available blackjack games and see what rules they offer. If the rules are appealing, make sure the pay table is too.
A natural blackjack should always pay 3:2. If the payout is anything less than that, find a better game. Decreasing the payout for a natural blackjack is the easiest and most covert way for casinos to hike up the house edge by as much as 2.27%.
Finally, remember that it’s impossible to turn the tides completely into your favor. If it were that easy, casinos would be out of business. The best you’ll manage playing real money blackjack online is a house of about 0.4%. With the right knowledge and strategy, you’ll only need a bit of luck to overcome that minuscule edge.
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Since the invention of the smartphone, social media has become paramount to everyday life, giving us access to people, entertainment, a multi-player gaming environment and constant interaction. From an industrial point of view, social marketing is now the number one avenue for promoting businesses. But for real money casino apps, that path is largely blocked.
A study by Statista Research & Analysis released earlier this year indicated that social networking outlets like Facebook and Twitter would continue to attract an exponentially growing number of users over the coming years.
In 2010, the report showed 970 million people around the world accessing social media. That number doubled to 1.91 billion in 2014, rising further to 2.34 billion in 2016, with potential to reach 2.95 billion by 2020. Facebook remains the top dog in the social networking field, reporting a staggering 1.71 billion monthly active users.
IMG Statista Social Media Users
Industrial marketing teams, both for long established businesses and entrepreneurs, are well aware of the fact that social media is so vastly popular with their target audience.
According to a Hubspot report published in 2014, 92% of all marketing teams surveyed indicated that social media is vital to their business, and has helped increase exposure for their respective brands. 80% said they’ve experience increased traffic due to their social marketing efforts.
Mobile Casino Apps Left Wanting
Throughout it all, there’s one industry that’s been left out on the cold. In most regions, real money casino apps are blocked or banned from advertising via social media. Networks like Facebook and WebChat make a point not to encourage gambling on mobile casino apps, while China’s immensely popular Wiebo prohibits any form of wager-related advertising.
The reasoning is simple enough. Despite gambling being legal – once a person reaches a certain age, of course – there’s an overwhelming perception that its bad for you. It falls under the same reasoning that saw a prohibition against cigarette advertisements in the 1970’s, which had a lot to do with potentially promoting age-restricted activities to minors.
Copula Marketing Firm Has The Solution
One marketing firm believes its got a solution to the problem. Emmanuel Vivas, founder of digital market firm Copula.ph, told Stephanie Raquel of CalvinAyre.com that operators can avoid any legal ramifications by taking a more subtle, indirect approach to promoting their mobile casino apps on social media.
Vivas used online bookmakers as a prime example, explaining that they can open a social media page promoting a team or event series, rather than the actual betting service. It would provide a forum for discussion among fans, where operators could post textual advertisements, rather than direct social marketing ads.
He suggested that operators not “look into marketing directly to social media but more on gathering the people who are interested in like teams of sports”, particularly those whose interests lie with gambling on those sports. “In that way, we get a lot of people who are interested, and, at the right moment when these teams are playing, you can send a message to these fans, and they go to this place, and they can support them by making a bet.
“These are very legal and not connected to betting or wagering,” said Vivas.
Since the advent of virtual currencies, and more specifically, “virtual commodities”, a very fine line has been drawn between what does and does not constitute real money gambling online. The issue has been highlighted by a UK court trial in which two men have been accused of facilitating illegal gambling, including the advertisement of gambling services to minors.
The two Essex men in question are Craig Douglas (31) and Dylan Rigby (33), a pair of video bloggers who record and upload football game content on YouTube, and at the same time, advertised for the website www.futgalaxy.com; a website where access from UK customers was blocked earlier this year.
Both men were charged with advertising unlawful gambling. Additionally, Douglas was charged with inviting minors to gamble, while Rigby was charged with providing facilities for gambling without a license.
According to the UK Gambling Commission, all counts are direct violations of the Gambling Act of 2005.
Using Virtual Items for Real Money Gambling?
The offences are related to the use of a virtual commodity known as Fifa Coins, which can be purchased or win in the Fifa computer game, and can be used on www.futgalaxy.com, and some other third-party sites, to place bets on virtual football matches and other eSports. The winnings can then be transferred back into the Fifa game.
After being charged in September, Douglas and Rigby pleaded not guilty on October 14. The hearing will begin on February 6, 2017, where the Birmingham Magistrates’ Court will whether or not Fifa coins constitute a virtual currency.
If that’s the case, computer game companies and websites that deal in these virtual currencies would be required by UK law to apply for a regulatory licence from the Gambling Commission, as their activities would fall under the guidelines of real money gambling.
Gambling Commission’s Mind Made Up
The Gambling Commission published a discussion paper in August in which a warning was emitted to operators of internet-based platforms that supply eSports betting where virtual commodities, obtained in game, are used to facilitate wagers. The Commission advised operators that they may require a gambling license to continue their services.
Trading of in-game items that can be bought, won, traded, sold or used were deemed “digital commodities” by the Commission, especially when those items can be “converted into money or money’s worth”. In cases where those items can be gambled with, the Commission defined them as “a form of virtual currency”.
Christopher Rees-Gay of Pinsent Masons, who specializes in gambling law and licensing, and is a prime legal consultant for Out-Law.com, gave his opinion on the matter.
“The crux of the issue is whether in-game items have a monetary value derived from the current market price and can be converted back into real-world money, and whether the court’s interpretation of the Gambling Act accords with that of the Gambling Commission on the matter of virtual currencies,” said Rees-Gay.
“The Commission in its recent discussion paper stated that ‘where ‘skins’ are traded or are tradable and can therefore act as a de facto virtual currency and facilities for gambling with those items are being offered‘ it considers that a gambling licence is required,” he explained, noting that facilitating gambling without a license “is an offence under section 33 of the Gambling Act 2005…”
Rees-Gay called this an “important case”, as it will clear up an existing “grey area” of the law for operators in terms of what does and does not constitute real money gambling where virtual items and currencies are concerned.
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Real money gambling over the internet, via desktop or mobile, is a highly controversial subject mong global governments. In some regions it’s legal, others its prohibited, and for the rest, it tends to fall into a gray area of the law. The Netherlands falls into the second category, and has made its legal stance clear to the makers of Apple smartphones and tablets.
Back in May 2016, the nation’s gambling regulator, Kansspelautoriteit (KSA), sent an official request to Apple, Inc. asking that real money gambling apps be removed from the service’s Dutch-facing App Store.
The request was more of a demand, really, as the regulator crisply reminded Apple that online wagering is still illegal in the Netherlands. Although the government is currently working on a draft bill to legalize internet casinos, the KAS was adamant that, until the Remote Gambling Act is passed, and licenses awarded to individual operators, the App Store’s provision of real money gambling applications could be interpreted as a direct violation of current law.
Apple Removes Real Money Gambling Apps
It took the tech giant – the renowned maker of Mac, MacBook, iPhone, iPad and other popular computer products – several months to fully comply with the request, but a recent publication on the Dutch regulator’s website confirmed that Apple has finally obliged.
KAS stated that “one” company (no doubt referring to Apple) successfully removed 55 real money gambling apps from its Dutch-accessible App Store, including those from major iGaming operators like Bwin and Unibet. Note that Google Play did not receive a similar request, as that company did not offer these betting apps to Dutch customers in the first place.
“One of the app stores heeded the request of the Gaming Authority and deleted initially 49 and later six so-called real-money gambling apps,” read the announcement on the KSA website.
The regulator maintains that Bwin, Unibet and other betting operators of their nature may not lawfully provide their services to anyone physically located in the Netherlands. Therefore providing their mobile apps to Dutch customers is also a violation of the law.
Higher Fines Convince Operators, App Stores To Comply
Assisting companies like Apple to comply with that law was a move by the Dutch government in 2015 to triple the penalty for illegal online gambling from €50,000 to €150,000. In the past three years, at least iGaming operators have been fined by the KSA, with some operators being slapped with as much as €200,000 in individual fines.
According to reports, only three of the penalties were actually collected. Other operators were apparently able to avoid the fines by ceasing acceptance of Dutch players and confirming their intent to apply for a Dutch license once remote gambling becomes legal.
Two iGaming operators in particular became aggressively targeted victims of the KSA’s wrath. Total E Soft Ltd. and XKL Ltd., both based in the UK, were hit with a combined total of €180,000 in fines after being charged with providing illegal online gambling services to Dutch players via 14 different online poker, casino and sports betting sites. The KSA compiled strong evidence against them, as the websites were written in Dutch and boasted the Netherlands flag within their graphical layouts.
Remote Gambling Act Coming in 2017?
The government has been working long to pass a Remote Gambling Act, and is expected to finish the job sometime next year. The draft legislation is currently working its way through Parliament’s upper house, and will finally give private companies a chance to proffer licensed, real money gambling apps and websites within the country, eliminating the existing monopoly.