SBC News Year in Review: UK judgement day looms and global crypto takes a hit

Year in Review: UK judgement day looms and global crypto takes a hit

As 2022 drew to a close the ever-constant shadow of the Gambling Act review continued to hang over the UK betting space, whilst a number of big names continued to make major moves. 

Following the political chaos of Boris Johnson’s premiership, the situation began to stabilise at Westminster under Rishi Sunak, including the appointment of Paul Scully MP as Minister responsible for overseeing the review. 

Updating the industry on the review’s progress,Scully emphasised that the forthcoming White Paper would not end discussions about the sector or its societal impact. 

He said: “We are in a good position in this country, in that most gambling is done in the licensed sector, where operators have to comply with Gambling Commission rules to keep their licence. We want that to remain the position.” 

Meanwhile, in a separate update, Sunak himself addressed the topicThe Times reported that the Prime Minister plans to push ahead and maintain focus on delivery of the review, a 2019 election manifesto pledge of the governing Conservative Party.

Political developments occurred after and amidst a raft of financial penalties levied at operators over the past 12 months, as the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) adopted a no-nonsense approach to any operators which pushed the boat on licence conditions. 

As of October, the UKGC had charged 16 operators a total of £45m, after which its CEO, Andrew Rhodes, stated that ‘the message is starting to get through’. 

He added: “We refuse to accept the pace of the slowest when we are confronted by recent stories of people suffering as a result of preventable harm.”

In other UK developments, the country gained some new operators this year, both of which were intrinsically linked to the media sector, in the form of DAZN Bet and talkSPORT Bet. 

Launched three months after DAZN Bet, talksSPORT Bet made its British debut in November, two months ahead of its proposed schedule. The app has been built and operated by BetVictor, which expanded its white label portfolio in the process.

It was also an active quarter internationally.. Despite facing a few hurdles in its trading updates throughout the year, 888Holdings boosted its global presence as its newly established 888Africa brand made market entry in East Africa

For intercontinental activity, however, look no further than Entain – as always, the quarter was a hectic year for the multi-brand operator, which closed the quarter by re-launching its Unikrn subsidiary – acquired the year before – in Brazil and Canada.

As it looked to ramp up its global operations, Entain secured a $1bn loan in support, but faced some hurdles in Australia, some of which would become indicative of a general industry trend in the country. 

With Australian political and public attention increasingly shifting towards perceived negative impacts of betting and gaming on society, Entain made the decision in November to roll back its sports sponsorship activity

This came as Australian authorities moved ahead with an overhaul of industry oversight, with a parliamentary inquiry into gambling launched, and a new set of responsible betting messages unveiled.

Additionally, whilst an agreement with the Australian Hotels Association New South Wales (AHA NSW) enhanced the visibility of Entain’s brands, the partnership has been challenged in court by Tabcorp, which maintains a monopoly on in-venue pub and hotel betting terminals.

As some court doors open, others close – the quarter also saw rival sports tech and data firms Genius Sports and Sportradar settle their long-running dispute over Premier League rights.

Lastly, global crypto-markets were heavily shaken in Q4 by the sudden collapse of FTX, but crypto-betting firms such as BetDEX remain confident – the company’s Founder and CEO, Varun Sudhakar, informed SBC that it was undeterred by the news. 

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