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Nicole Abbott

Nicole Abbott

News | Press Releases
12th May
The ABB retaliates to Labour’s pledge to reduce maximum FOBT stakes
In response to Labour’s general election manifesto, in which the party pledged to reduce the maximum stake on gaming machines to £2, the Association of British Bookmakers (ABB) have described Labour's promises to be a "bizarre and unjustified attack on betting shops".
12th May
Amaya hires William Hill’s Robin Chhabra
Amaya has confirmed Robin Chhabra, William Hill’s Group Director of Strategy and Corporate Development, has been appointed to the newly created position of Chief Corporate Development Officer.
10th May
ASA bans Bear Group ad for objectifying women
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has recently banned a gambling advertisement from Bear Group, promoting the company’s online casino StarWins.com, for both objectifying women and suggesting that betting could enhance personal qualities and attractiveness.
5th May
Media Relations Director of Ladbrokes steps down
David Williams, long-term Media Relations Director of Ladbrokes, recently confirmed via business network LinkedIn that he has stepped down from his position.
4th May
Q1 sees LeoVegas returning to profit
LeoVegas Group AB has reported strong growth within its product verticals as the company seeks to expand its footprint beyond its home markets of Scandinavia.
4th May
Ladbrokes Coral announces Q1 results
Ladbrokes Coral Group has announced that it traded in-line with expectations in the period from 1 January to 23 April, 2017, and reported growth within its online division.
4th May
Failure of Florida bill quashes hopes for the legalisation of DFS
Lawmakers in Florida recently announced that negotiations for a new gambling law in the state are “dead” for this legislative session, which will conclude next Friday.
3rd May
MGM Resorts partners with GVC to launch playMGM brand
MGM Resorts International and GVC Holdings PLC announced today that they have agreed to collaboratively launch online casino and poker games in New Jersey under the playMGM brand.
2nd May
Paradise Park approved by Wynn Resorts
Wynn Resorts intends to begin construction on the first phase of its $1.5bn Paradise Park as early as December, creating a white sand lagoon waterfront featuring attractions in Las Vegas.
28th April
STS completes acquisition of Greep Ltd.
STS has finalised its acquisition of Greep, Ltd. – a Czech software provider for gaming operators who offer mutual bets and lotteries in Europe.
27th April
Andy Duncan steps down as Camelot UK's CEO
Camelot UK has announced that Andy Duncan will leave his role as Chief Executive Officer of Camelot, the company which operates the UK National Lottery.
27th April
UK Government scraps free play tax in Finance Bill ahead of the general election
The UK Government has decided to remove a tax on free plays and bonuses from the Finance Bill 2017.
26th April
US casinos experience 2% revenue decrease in February
The University of Nevada Las Vegas’ Center for Gaming Research have recently published a report which detailed that commercial casinos in the United States reaped a total revenue of $3.3bn in February, amounting to a 2% decrease year-on-year.
25th April
Merger talks end between Margaritaville Casino and Alabama Indian tribe
The pending merger of Margaritaville Resort and Casino and the Poarch Band of Creek Indians, an Alabama Indian tribe, has ended.
24th April
Melco and Hard Rock set to open casino in Cyprus
The city of Limassol will host Cyprus’ first casino resort, which will be operated by the consortium of ‘Melco-Hard Rock’ (Melco International and Hard Rock Entertainment), according to Cypriot news sources.
21st April
Casino cheating laws: Is clarity being lost?
According to US and UK courts, world-renowned poker player Phil Ivey’s recent methods of winning at a casino game were on the wrong side of the law. However, the decision drastically split the judges in the UK Court of Appeal; so was this truly an open and shut case?

In 2014, Genting Casinos claimed that Phil Ivey used a technique known as “edge-sorting” during a game of baccarat (or more specifically Punto Banco) which took place in the summer of 2012. The method Ivey used gives the player a “first card advantage”. The company claimed this was an illegitimate strategy and they had no legal responsibility to hand over the £7.7m Ivey won playing the game.

Ivey, ten-time winner at the World Series of Poker, lost his subsequent High Court case against the owners of London's Crockfords Club and his winnings were withheld. Last November, Ivey had lost his appeal against the previous ruling, but not without splitting the judge’s view of the matter.

Shortly after Ivey was ordered to repay the sum of $10.1m to Atlantic City’s Borgata Casino and Hotel after a New Jersey court ruled that he had once again used “edge sorting” to cheat at baccarat. The repaid sum included the $9.6m winnings of the initial game, plus the $504,000 which Ivey won with his winnings during a game of craps. Ivey has not yet commented on whether he will appeal the court’s decision.

These two cases have triggered debate among law and industry experts alike, who are now questioning the clarity of US and UK law on cheating in casinos. In order to paint a clear picture of the two incidences in which Ivey was allegedly cheating, it is necessary to consider the method of “edge sorting” which Ivey himself admitted to using. “Edge sorting” is the ability to read subtle differences in the intricate designs on the back of playing cards, in order to ascertain which card the opponent is holding. Ivey, along with his accomplice Cheng Yin Sun, requested the house use a certain brand of playing cards and with an automatic shuffling machine in order to carry out this method on both occasions.

Of course, it is easy to see how Ivey’s accidentally-on-purpose stratagem may incite debate. On the one hand, Ivey has not actively marked the cards or behaved untruthfully in order to win his advantage over the house. On the other hand, by removing the essential element of luck from the game, Ivey did not honour the intended style of play that is traditionally associated with baccarat.

Indeed, Judge John Mitting of the UK High Court stated that his verdict was ultimately dependent upon the fact that Ivey had swayed the odds in his favour: “He gave himself an advantage which the game precludes. This is in my view cheating.”

Judges in the US also ruled that the element of luck and a slight house edge are defining characteristics of the game of baccarat. Ivey’s removal of these crucial ingredients means the game cannot be classified as baccarat, is not regulated by the New Jersey Casino Control Act, and is not permitted to be played in a New Jersey casino: “By using cards they caused to be manoeuvered in order to identify their value only to them, Ivey and Sun adjusted the odds of baccarat in their favour,” US District Judge Noel Hillman said in his ruling. “This is in complete contravention of the fundamental purpose of legalised gambling.”

However, Kyle Sammin, a lawyer from Pennsylvania and writer at thefederalist.com, has taken issue with the fact that the house is gifted a natural edge:“The broadness of the statutory provision, and the court’s willingness to construe it against the party that never touched the cards, much less marked them, shows the extent to which casinos and the government work together to make sure all the players, in the long run, will lose.”

Sammin continues by outlining the various ways in which casinos are granted exceptions from other regulatory laws, such as limits on drinking and smoking, as the government ultimately ends up reaping a generous profit from the casinos themselves.

Steve Donoughue, Consultant at GamblingConsultant.co.uk, passionately argues against this point, upholding that the house rules must always take precedence in such situations:“I think that if Ivey has been edge-sorting then they should throw the book at him. I think it is cheating; he should play the game as it’s meant to be played. Plus, I believe in ‘My House, My Rules’. If you want to use tricks, then play with people who allow it.”

Sammin disagrees that it can be permissible for the house to relinquish all responsibility of its acceptance of Ivey’s terms prior to the game: “The casino supplied the cards, a brand of cards that they use on a regular basis and which were not altered in any way, but it was Ivey and Sun who were held to have violated the law.”

He further argues that the house “allowed the requests, and thereby exposed themselves to Ivey and Sun’s advantage”, and therefore must face the consequences of their oversight.

However, he fails to take into account that the casino was completely unaware of the minute flaw in the deck which granted Ivey and his accomplice the ability to determine which cards the opposition held, and perhaps could be forgiven for neglecting to notice a 0.78 millimetre anomaly in the un-opened pack of cards.

Even if the court ruled that the game was authorised to be played at the casino, the Casino Control Act that is currently effective in the United State clearly bans anyone from knowingly using cards which “alter the normal random selection of characteristics or the normal chance of the game which could determine or alter the result of the game”. Therefore Sammin’s questionable argument that this law was purely intended for marked cards does not hold up in Ivey’s New Jersey case. However, is the UK law’s description of cheating as immovable as the US?

Not without causing some controversy between the judiciaries. Ivey was judged by the UK appeals court to have indeed cheated at Crockfords casino, and therefore must forfeit his £7.7m in winnings. The primary issue that the famous poker player had taken with the UK court’s ruling was their claim that deceit is not essentially an attribute of the definition of cheating: "This decision makes no sense to me,” Ivey protested. “The trial judge said that I was not dishonest and the three appeal judges agreed but somehow the decision has gone against me.”

Ivey, questioning the oxymoronic nature of the High Court’s findings that “Mr. Ivey was honest; but that looking at the matter objectively, he had cheated”, contested the decision at the UK Court of Appeal, entreating the court to consider how he could have cheated honestly.

Lady Justice Arden of the Court of Appeals stated that: “Mr Ivey achieved his winnings through manipulating Crockfords’ facilities for the game without Crockfords’ knowledge. His actions cannot be justified on the basis that he was an advantage player.”

Lady Justice Arden approved the initial ruling. “I do not consider that dishonesty is a necessary ingredient of the criminal offence of cheating”.

Lady Juctice Sharp disagreed with Lady Justice Arden’ final verdict, stating that the law in this case is very much open to interpretation: “There is a dearth of  authority on the meaning of ‘cheat’ in relation to gaming contracts in the civil context”.

Lady Justice Sharp expressed her belief that dishonesty “is an essential ingredient of the criminal offence of cheating”, and added: “I find the suggestion that someone can be guilty of the criminal offence (in effect) of ‘honest cheating’ at gambling to be a startling one which is not mandated by the language of the statute itself”.

This strong disagreement between the two judges demonstrates that the definition of “cheat” in relation to The Gambling Act 2005 – which Lady Justice Sharp asserts is “a modern statute”, and thus overrides judgements made on “older cases” –is disputable, and thus lacking in clarity.

Mr Ivey's lawyer, Matthew Dowd of Archerfield Partners LLP, strongly believes that the wording of the statute needs further revision and clarification: “The Court of Appeal’s decision leaves the law totally unclear as to what constitutes cheating at gambling. Four judges have looked at this issue now and none of them have been able to agree on the correct interpretation of Section 42 of the Gambling Act. It's essential that the law is clarified and in light of today's decision we are seeking permission to appeal to the Supreme Court.”

Donoughue approaches this issue with a brief history lesson on gambling laws in the UK: “So the real issue here for the UK is that the Gambling Act 2005 made gambling debts enforceable in law for the first time since 1845. Back then, the government decided that the sheer volume of litigation arising from accusations of cheating could cause the legal system to collapse, so it was up to gentlemen to sort out their disagreements as a matter of honour. When we legalised gambling in the 1960s, we kept gambling debts unenforceable, as gambling operators would lose business if they failed to pay out, but they would be protected from cheats by not being forced to pay out.

“The 2005 Act changed this,” Donoughue continues. “As the Act was going through parliament, the Ritz case – in which laser scanners were used by Eastern Europeans to help them win at roulette – was in the news. Speculation arose in both Houses as to why there wasn’t a clearer definition of what cheating was, and so here we have a perfect example of legislation that was rushed and important detail ignored.”

Donoughue believes this is exactly the matter that Lady Justice Sharp was referring to. “As there is no definition or guidance in the legislation (s.42) as to what is cheating, the courts have to make case law and that can take decades to hone,” Donoughue explains. “Lady Justice Sharp was putting her view forward, but it was the minority. Given another case with different judges the outcome could have been different. It will take time before there is a unified view. The people who will suffer are those in the industry, as cheating costs money and that is money that could go on wages.”

This indicates that the law may actually lean in favour of the player, as the definition of cheating is ambiguous and therefore easily malleable to a skilful defence lawyer. However, regardless of whether you side with Ivey or the casinos on this matter, it may be beneficial to both parties and the legal system if a clear-cut definition of cheating was established in UK law.

Commenting more generally on the UK laws concerning cheating in casinos, Melanie Ellis, Senior Associate at Harris Hagan, implies that ambiguity in definition of cheating is critical to the uniqueness with which every case should be treated: “Section 42 of the Gambling Act 2005, which creates the offence of cheating, states that it may, in particular, include “actual or attempted deception or interference” with the process of a game or with an event to which gambling relates. This is not intended to be an exhaustive definition of the term, merely an example of what might constitute cheating.

The term “cheating” is not actually defined at all, but the explanatory notes to the Act state that it should be given its normal, everyday meaning. Most people would consider that the normal, everyday meaning of the word “cheating” involves doing something dishonestly, however this concept is not actually incorporated into Section 42 and this does not appear to be the interpretation taken by the courts.

“The offence also does not incorporate any requirement for there to be an intention to interfere with a game or event, leaving open the possibility of inadvertent cheating (for example by accidentally seeing an opponent’s cards and benefitting from that knowledge),” Ellis continues. “The lack of a clear definition has resulted in uncertainty as to the circumstances which might constitute cheating at gambling in Great Britain, but it does have the benefit of allowing the courts the flexibility to determine whether a person has cheated by taking into account the particular circumstances of each individual case.”

It appears to be universally agreed that UK gambling laws which address cheating and gamesmanship are ambiguous. Although this means that both casinos and players are left to scramble in the dark with this matter, there is an argument for the law to curb heavily descriptive explanations of cheating in order for each case to be considered with distinct individuality. It is a tough call, but this is how the courts have decided to address this matter for all cases. Unfortunately, this matter touches upon an ongoing debate in the nature of law itself: should everyone be judged according to immovable, standardised laws, or by the thorough consideration and analysis of each circumstance? In this case it seems that the latter took precedence in the UK and the former in the US, but both came to the same conclusion. Nevertheless, professional players should make sure that their methods of play are crystal clear in future; in regards to this particular law, you never know what cards you may be dealt.
13th April
Federal appeals court overturns ruling blocking gambling facility in Massachusetts
A native American tribe’s plans for a gambling hall on Martha’s Vineyard has been given a second chance following the federal appeals court’s decision to reverse a block on the long awaited project made previously instated by a lower court in 2015.
13th April
Scientific Games completes acquisition of Spicerack Media
Scientific Games corp recently announced the completion of its acquisition of the privately held mobile and social game company Spicerack Media, Inc.
12th April
888 Holdings may consider moving to Malta after Brexit
888 Holdings stated in a report that should Gibraltar be negatively impacted by the UK’s exit from the European Union, the company will consider relocating its headquarters to Malta.
11th April
2017 Grand National was officially the busiest day of the year for NYX
NYX Gaming Group, end-to-end supplier and technology provider to sports betting and gaming operators, announced today that it handled a total of 24 million sports bets across all channels, via its OpenBet platform, on the day of the Grand National. This makes 8th April 2017 officially the busiest day of the year for NYX.
11th April
US Department of Justice establish repayment plan for victims of Absolute Poker’s “Black Friday” fraud
The Department of Justice have recently announced that Absolute Poker is to compensate players through a claims process similar to that of Full Tilt, which is part of an ongoing civil complaint settlement following the events of online poker’s “Black Friday” in 2011.
7th April
Sky Betting & Gaming prepares to enter German market
Sky Betting & Gaming (SB&G) has announced that it is preparing to enter the next phase of its international expansion entitled ‘Sky Bet Deutschland’, and is looking for new talent to join its Munich office.
6th April
Californian casino under investigation for money-laundering
The Bicycle Hotel & Casino in Bell Gardens has reopened following a 20-hour raid which was conducted by federal agents. The Times was told by law enforcement officials that the agents seized thousands of financial records as part of a money-laundering investigation.
30th March
Nevada's table games and slots takings down 4.48% in February
February’s gaming numbers for non-restricted casinos – those with table games and 15 or more slots – provided by the Nevada Gaming Control Board convey that there has been a state-wide 4.48% drop in gaming win from February of 2016, in which the state took $989m compared to the $945.6m taken for the same period this year.
29th March
39 arrested in Malaysia following gambling crackdown
The Malaysian government has completed a chain of raids as part of its plan to crackdown on unauthorised land-based betting centres and online gaming sites, arresting 39 people in the state of Sarawak. According to the national press, the government has targeted illegal operators of the iGaming sector and the four-digit public lotteries.
29th March
Galaxy teams up with SBM to bid on Japanese casino licence
Galaxy Entertainment Group, Operator of Galaxy Macau, has joined forces with its associates Société des Bains de Mer (SBM) in Monaco to bid for a Japanese casino licence in what is set to be the next big gaming hot-spot.
28th March
Habanero revels in revenue growth ahead of European expansion
Slots and table games provider Habanero has experienced a 15.3% average month-on-month increase in revenue throughout 2017.
27th March
New Hampshire considers bill allowing construction of two casinos
The New Hampshire Senate recently voted 13 to 10 in favour of approving a bill, SB 242, which would authorise the construction of two separate casinos within the state’s borders.
27th March
Kindred consider using AI to prevent problem gambling
Kindred Futures recently co-hosted a roundtable session in London to create a forum in which opportunities surrounding artificial intelligence (AI) could be used to detect early signs of problem gambling could be explored and developed.
24th March
Consortium propose casino and shopping complex in Malta
Midi, a development consortium from Malta, has proposed a casino hotel and shopping complex for Manoel Island
22nd March
Florida’s bill to freeze casino expansion passes through House committee
A key House committee voted 11 to 7 to pass HB 7037, despite opposition from Democrats. This bill will lock Florida’s gambling footprint in place for 20 years — completely vetoing any chance of casino expansion. The passing of this bill through the house has divided the Legislature over how to resolve the lucrative gambling compact with the Seminole Tribe.
21st March
Adelson tops Forbes' rich list again
According to the Forbes Magazine’s list of the world's wealthiest billionaires, Sheldon Adelson continues to be the richest person in the world connected to the gaming industry and the world’s 20th richest man, totalling at a net worth of $30.4b. In a Forbes feature designed to track worth in real time, the Las Vegas Sands CEO already has shot to $32.7b.
20th March
MGM Grand introduce skill-based interactive golf suite
MGM Grand has recently opening its new skill-based interactive VIP golf gaming suite, Golfstream, in the new 12,000-square-foot Level Up area.
17th March
West Virginia introduces first online gambling bill
West Virginia recently introduced House Bill 3067 – the first bill to legalise and regulate online gambling in the state.
17th March
Pennsylvania table games revenue drops 3% during February
Pennsylvania casinos experienced a dramatic decrease in gross revenue from table games during February 2017. According to data released by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, gross revenue was down 2.8% compared to February of last year.
17th March
Two casinos rejected by Mississippi Gaming Commission
State regulators have recently rejected two proposed casino sites on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. This is now the second time that these two sites have been blocked by the Mississippi Gaming Commission.
17th March
‘Political risks’ expected to delay Cebu casino
A group of potential investors in the US$1.4-billion casino project on the Philippine island of Cebu has dropped out due to “perceived political risks and other issues in the country”.
16th March
Gambling Commission urges parents to be wary of video game gambling
The Gambling Commission is advising parents to be on their guard against the gambling-related dangers of video games.
16th March
Connecticut’s Public Safety Committee approves two casino expansion bills
A legislative committee in Connecticut have recently approved two separate casino expansion bills, sending them forward to be considered by the full House and Senate.
15th March
Lottoland hopes to be the first private lottery operator in Germany
Lottoland has filed an application to have its own lottery in several German federal states in order to challenge the German lottery monopoly and become the first private lottery operator of a major lottery in the country.
15th March
Norway threatens to crackdown on skin betting
The Norwegian Gaming Authority (NGA) has pledged to start controlling and sanctioning operators who offer skin betting services. Skin betting is a method of wagering a game’s purchasable add-ons, primarily virtual weapons, on the outcome of the game itself.
14th March
Bwin confirmed as title sponsor of Grand Slam of Darts 2017
Bwin have recently announced that it will be sponsoring the Grand Slam of Darts for the first time under a new two-year contract with the Professional Darts Corporation.
14th March
Mississippi governor approves Daily Fantasy Sports legislation
Mississippi finally passed new Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) legislation that will allow operators to apply for a licence to run tournaments in the state.
14th March
Industry financiers tap into eSports betting market with Blinkpool investment
Blinkpool has recently secured $700,000 in funding from venture capital investors Velo Partners and 12 other industry players who are keen to tap into the $7.4b underground eSports industry.
13th March
Tabcorp switch regulatory supervisor of Tatts Group merger
Australia-based gambling operator Tabcorp Holdings recently made a surprise move by switching the regulatory body supervising its merger with Tatts Group.
10th March
Sky Racing World Expands Partnership with TVG
Sky Racing World, distributor of horse-racing content to the Americas and subsidiary of Australian wagering operator Tabcorp, recently announced the expansion of its partnership with TVG, the California-based racing-focused TV network and advance depositing wagering (ADW) site.
9th March
GambleAware appoints four new trustees
GambleAware announced today that it has appointed four new independent trustees to its Board.
8th March
GVC extends agreement with Leap Gaming
Today GVC announced that it will be extending its virtual sports content offering from Leap Gaming across their gaming sites bwin and partycasino. Leap will continue to provide GVC’s site with its scheduled racing events currently offered as well their newest products: In-Play Tennis, Football and Instant (on-demand) virtual events.
6th March
Illinois Senate approves plan for six new casinos
Illinois legislators have tabled a proposal to expand gambling in the state by constructing six new casinos. This proposal aims to boost the needy state’s finances following a failure to devise a viable annual spending plan over the last two years.
3rd March
Baazov charged with five counts of illicit ‘insider trading’ activity
On 20 November 2017, Amaya’s former CEO David Baazov will be brought to Canada’s High Court by Quebec securities regulator Autorité des marchés financiers to tried with five counts of illegal 'insider trading' activity.

IN-DEPTH 22 June 2017
Unlocking potential through licensing
Susan O’Leary, Director of eCommerce for the States of Alderney, says new markets in Southeast Asia can offer huge rewards for operators and suppliers, providing they are properly licensed