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AI threat to internet poker

Developments in artificial intelligence (AI) could pose a threat to the future viability of internet poker. It all started in 1997 when IBM’s Deep Blue computer beat world chess champion Garry Kasparov.  Two decades later and Deep Mind’s (the Google owned AI company) Alpha Zero has taught itself how to play chess to a high standard in just four hours. At the World Chess championship in London 2018 Alpha Zero was evaluating the moves of the champions and making adjustments. According to Wired Alpha Zero’s twist, achieved through its “deep neural network architecture”, is to combine factors human players considered unimportant, such as the restriction of the opponent’s king, into a whole game strategy: “For example, taking unusually early action to create a weakness in the opponent’s king’s position and then using this weakness as a motif throughout the rest of its [...]

September 25th, 2019|

Loot boxes under political scrutiny

The Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee’s inquiry into “addictive and immersive technologies” has called for loot boxed to be banned for children and for in-game spending to be regulated by gambling laws. Those in the gambling business following the inquiry will be sadly familiar with way the cards are falling for the video games sector. The committee’s chairman Damian Collins MP has argued that the video games industry should make a financial contribution to fund independent research into the long-term effects of gaming: "Gaming disorder based on excessive and addictive game-play has been recognised by the World Health Organization.” "It's time for game companies to use the huge quantities of data they gather about their players to do more to proactively identify vulnerable gamers." On the specific topic of loot boxes he argued: "Buying a loot box is playing [...]

September 25th, 2019|

Job losses at Stars Group

The announcement by the Stars Group (PokerStars) that redundancies will be made at its Isle of Man headquarters is the latest consequence of the maturation of the e-gaming sector. For PokerStars one key event in this process was the sale by the company’s founders and the transformation from private company to public company with outside investors to satisfy. The process of regulation has also made the need for offshore licences less essential. The model of one licence targeting many markets is now less relevant for public companies. The Stars Group, for example, states it now “holds licenses or applicable approvals to operate in 23 jurisdictions”. In fact, according to the Isle of Man Gambling Supervision Commission, the only PokerStars URL now run under an Isle of Man licence is the free-play .net website. With licensing has come increased taxation and [...]

September 25th, 2019|

UK Credit Card Consultation

In 2018 the Responsible Gambling Strategy Board (RGSB) provided advice to the Gambling Commission on reducing harm to gamblers. The advice noted that gambling with borrowed money, including with a credit card, is a well-established risk factor for harmful gambling. The Gambling Commission stated that people should not gamble with money they do not have.  To help with a better understanding of the problem the Commission is seeking information from stakeholders including operators and financial institutions on the topic of credit cards.  The consultation will last for twelve weeks.   About six percent of gamblers use credit cards to bet on the internet, and eleven percent use wallets. Whether those that use wallets fund them with credit cards or debit cards is not widely known. Gamblers that GBGC has talked to largely use debit cards but some prefer credit cards because [...]

August 21st, 2019|

ICAP ruling: fines vs settlements

In early July 2019 the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled in favour of ICAP Management Services Ltd, the world’s largest interdealer broker, in an interesting court case that may have a bearing on the way the UK Gambling Commission imposes settlements on failures to comply with regulations. According to Reuters, ICAP had been accused of rigging the Japanese Yen Libor financial benchmark along with several banks and of forming a cartel. ICAP denied wrongdoing. The banks admitted taking part in return for lower fines amounting to EUR 1.5 billion.  ICAP subsequently challenged the EU decision at the General Court which found in its favour. The Commission appealed to the ECJ. The judges dismissed the action. Writing in the Sunday Times, Michael Spencer, the founder of ICAP said “billions in fines were imposed by regulators, and US crime agencies against [...]

August 21st, 2019|

Neither lender nor borrower be

Assessing the annual reports, it is apparent that several listed gambling companies are borrowing money by issuing bonds at a rate between four and five percent. It might seem like a bargain, but it isn’t. In my lifetime I have paid fifteen percent interest on a house mortgage. At the time it was affordable because wages were galloping ahead at a higher rate.  In some European countries banks are offering negative interest rates of around a half a percent!  Depositors are losing money every year they leave their money in the bank.  Denmark is even issuing negative interest rate mortgages on houses. The bank is giving you money for the privilege of borrowing money from them. The rate that gambling companies are borrowing is not low. It is very high and is pitched at that rate to reflect the risk [...]

August 21st, 2019|