Norwich City, Crown Resorts, & UKGC: the week in numbers

Each week, CasinoBeats breaks down the numbers behind some of the industry’s most interesting stories. In this latest edition, we take a look back to a Norwich City partnership termination, a UKGC interim chief exec appointment, financial performances, Euro 2020, and a pair of updates emanating from Australia.

19.75

The Victoria government is to allocate additional time and funding to the royal commission into the Melbourne operations of Crown Resorts to investigate “a wider range of matters”.

Commissioner Raymond Finkelstein wrote to James Merlino, Victoria’s acting premier, to request an extension from August 1, 2021, to October 15, 2021, as well as an increase in the Commission’s funding from $10m to $19.75m, which was subsequently granted.

Among the wider range of matters to be investigated include those relating to the corporate culture of Crown Melbourne, gambling harm minimisation, and claims brought forward in evidence so far, such as allegations that the venue underpaid casino tax. 

Extending the timeframe of the royal commission has been done in a bid to ensure that the significant information provided regarding Crown Melbourne’s suitability to hold the casino licence is examined thoroughly and appropriately. 

7

Norwich City announced the immediate mutual termination of a commercial partnership with BK8, citing feedback received from supporters and partners.

Acknowledging that it had “anticipated some negative responses” to the announcement, a statement issued by the recently promoted side says that “on this occasion, we got it wrong” and that for “any offence caused, the club apologises”.

It added that “we’re proud of our place within the local community and our relationship with supporters around the world”. A further update on a replacement shirt sponsor is set to follow in due course. 

On Monday 7 June 2021, Norwich City announced that the online gambling group would become a principal partner for the 2021/22 season, which will see the club return to the Premier League.

The agreement was said to include “bespoke colourway” of the BK8 logo which would feature as the new front of shirt sponsor on City’s first team match and training kits for the new season.

15

The UK Gambling Commission confirmed the appointment of Andrew Rhodes as interim chief executive, following the departure of Neil McArthur after an almost 15 year tenure in March of this year.

The regulator says that the hire of Rhodes, who will join later this month, is for an 18-month period and follows a “thorough search and highly competitive process”.

Upon the departure of McArthur, the UKGC board decided to recruit for an interim CEO in order to allow the successor to current chairman Bill Moyes, whose term of office ends later this year, to appoint a permanent chief executive. An announcement from the Secretary of State is expected in due course.

2007

Crown Resorts, Star Entertainment Group, and SkyCity Entertainment were each notified of “potential serious non-compliance” by Australia’s anti-money laundering agency.

The Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre has written to each of the casino operators after identifying potential non-compliance with the Australian Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act 2006, and Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Rules Instrument 2007.

Local media outlets report that fines are the most likely outcome of the ongoing investigations, and it remains to be seen what complications this could add to the Star’s ongoing merger aspirations with its under pressure counterpart Crown Resorts.

2005

Normalisation of gambling was a ‘predicted consequence’ of the 2005 Gambling Act, according to the UK Advertising Standards Authority

Submitting its document to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport consultation of the 2005 Gambling Act, the ASA explained its duty was to ‘present gambling advertising that ‘normalises’ irresponsible or potentially harmful gambling behaviour’.

Within the document, the ASA and its partners the Committee of Advertising Practice and the Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice raised concerns that gambling has become a ‘normalised activity’, yet reiterated that gambling is also widely recognised as a legitimate leisure pursuit subject to a strict product licensing regime. 

587

France’s online gambling sector continued its upward trend through the first quarter of the year, posting a 35 per cent increase in revenue to €587m (2020: €435m).

The increase is partly attributed to a 19 per cent uptick in active accounts to 3.07m (2020: 2.59m), with it said that “each online gaming segment open to competition is still experiencing very strong growth in activity”.

“These performances illustrate the acceleration of the digitisation of gambling practices, which is a consequence of the health crisis and whose structuring nature will have to be confirmed in the long term,” the French regulator ANJ noted upon publishing the figures. 

Online poker, off the back of recording the highest increase in turnover during the past year, saw its pace slow somewhat to increase revenue by 23 per cent to €120m (2020: €98m).

25.1

US commercial gaming revenue grew 25.1 per cent through April to $4.39bn due to rising vaccination rates, an overall positive trend in consumer spending, and continuing momentum in the sports betting and igaming verticals, says the American Gaming Association.

Publishing the results of its latest Commercial Gaming Revenue Tracker, the group reports that the performance was the second highest grossing gaming revenue month ever, falling just two per cent shy of March’s $4.8bn as a result of a 31.7 per cent drop in sports betting receipts.

Nationwide revenue from igaming reached $299.9m during the month, which represents a 142.1 per cent uplift year-on-year but the first month-over-month decline (-3.6 per cent) since November 2020.

Commercial sports betting revenue in April, the early stages of which brought an end to March Madness, dropped 31.7 per cent month-on-month to generate $240.3m.

Combined revenue from the two activities accounted for more than 12.5 per cent of all US commercial gaming revenue in April, down slightly from 14.8 per cent in March, but well above pre-pandemic levels.

20

Members of the European Gaming and Betting Association committed to independent advertising monitoring during the UEFA European Football Championship, which is to commence this week.

The will form the first monitoring exercise of the association’s pan-European code of conduct on responsible advertising, which will take place from May 20, 2021 to July 20, 2021.

This will test the compliance of EGBA members during the rescheduled football championships, when it says that “gambling advertising will be particularly visible”.

Monitoring will be conducted by the European Advertising Standards Alliance, the European association of advertising standards bodies. As part of this, Nielsen, a global analytics firm which specialises in advertising tracking, will trace the advertising content of EGBA members across TV, social media and digital advertising mediums in Greece, Romania, Sweden, and Ireland. 

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