Global Gambling: Five Stories to Watch For in 2018

In the very final days of 2017, many are probably asking themselves what the highlights of this past year were and what 2018 has in store. In the context of the global gambling industry, 2018 may turn out to be a year of big changes, hopefully positive onescas. A new major market may appear on the casino gambling map, efforts will be made for the state of online poker to be improved, plans may be revealed for the regulation of online gambling in one part of the world or another, and more, and even more.

Here are five of the stories we at Casino News Daily will be following closely in 2018 and will be providing our readers with extended coverage of, just as we did in 2017.

Japan’s Casino Gambling Legalization Effort

Japan’s government was originally expected to clear the second of its two-stage casino gambling legalization process by the end of the year. However, this fall’s snap election delayed vote on the Integrated Resort Implementation Bill.

The IR Promotion Bill was approved last December by the Japanese government and practically made casino gambling legal in the country. However, casinos cannot open doors in Japan before the necessary regulatory framework is created. The Implementation Bill will actually provide that regulatory framework, under which casino gambling activities will be conducted in the country.

According to analysts, said Implementation Bill will begin taking form in the first months of 2018 and will likely be voted on by the end of the Diet’s ordinary session in late June, or during an extraordinary session in the fall of 2018.

If this happens, it is believed that competition for coveted casino licenses will be opened in 2019. A number of casino giants have already expressed interest in operating in Japan, with Melco Resorts & Entertainment, Las Vegas Sands, Caesars Entertainment Corp., and the above-mentioned Hard Rock International being few of these.

Gambling analysts believe that it will not be before 2024 when the first casinos will open doors in the country.

Shared Online Poker Liquidity

The shared online poker liquidity project was among the most popular topics we covered over the past twelve months. The online gambling regulators of France, Spain, Italy, and Portugal sealed the shared liquidity agreement at a meeting on July 6, 2017 in Rome, but the scheme is yet to be materialized.

Casino News Daily has reported recently that France and Spain seem to be entering the final stages of launching the shared liquidity network. According to media reports, the two counties, together with Portugal, will be ready to launch the project in early 2018. Italy, however, is likely to join the scheme at a later stage.

The Casino News Daily team will continue to follow the topic closely and to inform its readers about any major developments towards the realization of the project.

Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City’s Opening

When Hard Rock International bought the shuttered Trump Taj Mahal from New York billionaire investor Carl Icahn in the spring of 2017, the Florida-based casino developer committed to investing $500 million into renovating and remodeling the property.

The casino resort is expected to reopen in the summer of 2018. Construction work has begun at the property and once the renovation project is complete, it will have its iconic minarets replaced with guitars and other rock’n’roll features Hard Rock’s properties are globally recognized for.

Another shuttered Boardwalk casino may be relaunched next year, according to media reports from the past several weeks. The closed TEN (formerly Revel Casino Hotel Atlantic City) was reportedly purchased by a Delaware-based firm from Florida real estate developer Glenn Straub for $200 million. It was also revealed that the new owner of the property had filed for a casino license from the New Jersey Casino Control Commission, hoping to reopen the casino resort in May 2018.

New Jersey’s Sports Betting Case and Online Gambling Legalization Attempts in US

Next year may be a transformative one for the US gambling industry as it may be the year when a long-standing ban on sports betting is finally lifted. Earlier this year, the US Supreme Court agreed to hear New Jersey’s arguments against the ban, which many considered a good sign for the future of regulated sports betting in the US.

Another good sign emerged this past December, when the Supreme Court held its first hearing of the case. There were justices at the hearing who basically argued that the current law prohibiting sports betting in all but four US states (Nevada, Montana, Delaware, and Oregon) is actually preventing these states from exercising their right to legislate as they find fit. If that argument gains traction in the Supreme Court, it may actually lead to the introduction of a game-changing reform that will allow not just New Jersey, but also the rest of the states, to legalize sports betting services.

It is also important to note that there will certainly be individual states that will take steps towards the legalization of online gambling. Pennsylvania became the fourth state to legalize iGaming this past fall and it is to be seen how lawmakers will regulate the nascent industry and how that nascent industry will fare.

New York and California have been trying to legalize online gambling for years now, and 2018 may eventually be the year when they will succeed in their effort. Michigan lawmakers also pointed out earlier this year that they are planning to introduce an iGaming bill next year. Illinois discussed the opportunity in mid-2017, and it will not be such a big surprise, if it renews the push in 2018.

Changes in Europe’s Gambling Landscape/Renewed Merger and Acquisition Activity

Several European countries are on the verge of big changes in the way gambling services are provided within their borders, and 2018 is likely to be the year when these changes are either implemented, or important information about their future implementation is revealed to the public.

In the UK, the Government is set to announce its decision about the pending crackdown on the highly controversial fixed-odds betting terminals. It confirmed this fall that there will certainly be such a crackdown, but its scope is yet to be revealed. In other words, the maximum stake of the popular gambling machines will be reduced in 2018, and the Government will announce in early 2018 by how much.

At present, players can wager up to £100 every 20 seconds. The maximum stake could be reduced to £50, £20, or £2 after the results from a 12-week consultation of the government are published.

It is believed that the decision of the government in regard to FOBTs’ maximum stake could unleash a new wave of merger and acquisition deals within the industry. In fact, gambling operators Ladbrokes Coral and GVC Holdings have just announced a £4-billion merger deal. And it can be said that the pending FOBTs crackdown has certainly been among the reasons for said deal.

In Sweden and the Netherlands, lawmakers will be preparing the two countries’ new regulatory frameworks in relation to the provision of online gambling services. In fact, it was announced last week that Sweden has recently filed its gambling regulation plan to the European Commission. If approved by EU regulators, the country’s new law, which would allow foreign operators to operate in a regulated environment, may come into force in early 2019.

Dutch lawmakers have also pointed out that the country’s new gambling law could take effect in early 2019. A gambling overhaul bill was passed by the Dutch Lower House in the summer 2016, and it is now up to the Senate to undertake the necessary actions towards the regulation of online gambling in the country.

In Portugal, the government will begin a review of the nation’s gambling industry in May 2018, or precisely two years after the country issued the first online gambling license under its new laws. The review has long been called for and Portuguese lawmakers have been facing vocal criticism against the taxation regime introduced as part of the new regulatory framework. According to industry stakeholders and analysts, the current gambling taxes in the country are too high and have driven major operators away from the local market.

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