iGB Diary: Lotto, physics, integrity and an alpaca

11 May 2018

Happy friday igamers! In this week's mini-missive we take a front seat as Australian lotto-gate rolls on, go on to ponder whether the earth is really round, find out why the US sports leagues stand to lose ground on their integrity fee argument and discover why alpacas trump bubble wrap. Enjoy!

Not looking good 
Last week’s surprise entry by MyLotto24 into the Australian market via a partnership with Australian newsagents, along with the news that another newsagent body is considering a tie-up with Lottoland, may show newsagents are getting on board with secondary lotteries, but it seems politicians have not been similarly swayed. As the debate on the Interactive Gambling Amendment (Lottery Betting) Bill 2018 this week reached the country’s lower house, the House of Representatives, it would be fair to say there was no actual debate. The Labor Party gave its support to the Liberal Party legislation, with various speakers voicing concerns that secondary lotteries contributed to problem gambling, youth unemployment and lost taxes for community causes. The words ‘tax haven’ were used repeatedly when referring to Lottoland’s Gibraltar roots. Support was, in fact, so bipartisan for the bill that one MP, Labor’s Matt Keogh, remarked: “When I go back into the community, people often come to me and say, 'Why is it that the government and the opposition can never agree? Why are oppositions always opposing just for the sake of being in opposition?' I can tell you that this is actually a classic example of the opposite.” The only hope for the lottery firms now is that the bill finds some dissenting voices in the Senate, where the government does not have a majority so will need the support of all the minor parties to get it through. 

Bets are off on flat earth
Given bookies have been known to offer bets on the apocalypse and when alien life will be proven, it might seem a little surprising that a bet on whether or not the earth is flat has been declined by pretty much all the major bookies. It certainly came as a shock to Gerrard Gallacher, a Grimsby man who’s been trying, with no success, to place one. He told the Grimsby Telegraph he’s been refused odds by Paddy Power, Bet 365, William Hill, Coral and Sky Bet, saying he can’t understand why William Hill would take a bet on Elvis coming back from the dead but not on the earth being flat. He’s got something of a point here — if you’re going to accept bets on some outlandish ideas, why not all of them? In a screenshot of his conversation with Sky Bet, Gallacher tries to place a bet that within five years a politician, scientist or official will announce to the world that the earth is flat. Sky Bet politely declines, saying, “it’s a tough one to prove”. In Sky’s case it was perhaps the wording he used that turned them off. Given the bizarre growth in the number of those who believe the world is flat — according to a Metro article earlier this year a whopping 2% of Americans are now ‘flat earthers’ — the trader was perhaps worried that before long a politician or official would join the club. Not an entirely unfounded fear when in a country like America no real political experience or savvy seems to be required even to become president…

Integrity for free
US sports leagues may struggle to uphold the argument that they have an intellectual property right over sports data if recent case history is anything to go by. The leagues had been drawing on this argument to justify their calls for a 1% ‘integrity fee’ if PASPA is repealed later this month. However, writing in Forbes this week, gaming lawyer Marc Edelman pointed out that two federal court decisions actually seem to imply the exact opposite. The National Basketball Association was found to have no IP rights to prevent real-time statistics from TV and radio being used elsewhere in NBA v Motorola. “There, the court specifically rejected the notions that the NBA enjoyed copyright protection and that it enjoyed some common law "hot news" rights,” Edelman writes. Similarly, in C.B.C Distribution v Major League Baseball Advanced Media a court ruled that the use of basketball stats by third parties for online fantasy gaming was "a form of expression due substantial constitutional protection." As such, sports data may well remain fair game under a new US sports betting regime. That said iGB’s recent exploration of stateside data wars revealed that on the whole igaming data providers are keen to forge ‘official’ partnerships with the leagues, and besides that data is a bit of a non-issue until the federal law is changed!

Grow up
This week saw online betting app Kwiff rapped by the Advertising Standards Authority for a second time in a month. Its latest ticking off related to the depiction of “juvenile behaviour” in an advert which it was felt had the potential to appeal to under-18s. It follows a ruling the previous week that found the app had breached a number of codes, including misleading punters with made up odds. The app’s most recent contravention in advertising standards featured a group of men “popping bubble wrap with great enjoyment”. The Diary is uncomfortable with the notion that popping bubble wrap as a pastime should be the sole preserve of the very young, alas the BCAP Code does clearly prohibit juvenile behaviour in gambling ads. Kwiff should take a leaf out of Play OJO’s book and get itself a comedy animal. The world can never have enough dancing alpaca’s… enjoy the weekend!