As we close out 2012, it’s a good time to review all the events that happened over the past 12 months and speculate what might occur in 2013. Here are a couple of things that had the online casino industry talking…
The US remained firmly closed for international business, despite promising moves towards a regulated interstate gambling industry. Still, that didn’t seem to faze numerous amounts of operators who spend a good deal of the year forming partnerships and alliances with US-based companies, in preparation for the eventual legalisation of online gambling.
Australian media figure James Packer called for a fast-track to the visa processing system so that Chinese would be encouraged to visit the country so as to generate dollars for the tourism industry. At present, the visa system is complicated and requires a lengthy processing period of five to seven days. We expect that Packer’s plans to build a hotel and casino complex in Sydney are simply convenient coincidence. The Australian government is expected to roll out an online visa programme in 2013 and 2014.
The UK government announced that it would move the gambling industry from a point-of-supply model to a point-of-consumption model, meaning that the companies whose headquarters are based in tax-friendly regions like Gibraltar and Malta would no longer enjoy the benefits of not paying tax in the UK. The new tax structure is due to begin January 1st, 2013. It will be interesting to see what the corporate response to these changes will be.
New games released
As every casino blog has reported, there have been plenty of games released this year. Mostly, they were brand-new slots based on popular movies – Scarface and Ghostbuster slots were very popular and are expected to be kept in the Microgaming and IGT portfolios through 2013. The Dark Knight slot also made headlines when it replaced the Lord of the Rings progressive slot and continues to be one of the most successful slots ever produced.
Social gaming ramps up
Facebook finally began to show interest in the money side of gambling, with social gambling gradually introducing real-money elements. The company has now signed a deal with 888 to bring a real-money casino to its users, attracting the ire of groups concerned with addiction and underage gambling.