*Updated: Please note that GamblingNews has been contacted by an unidentified person claiming to be close to the matter. They said that it wasn’t a competitor who brought up the concerns. Our source does confirm that it’s still a US-based interest group.
Evolution AB has been cited in an anonymous complaint by a competitor, Bloomberg has reported. The plaintiff, whose identity has not been disclosed, alleges that Evolution is operating illegally in some markets that are presently under US sanctions.
Law firm Calcagni & Kanefsky LLP sent a letter to the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) on November 12, highlighting the issue. Bloomberg News has been able to obtain a copy of the letter and report.
Ralph Marra, the senior counsel at the law firm who represents the unnamed party, said that the company that hired them to bring up the matter had wished to remain anonymous for the time being.*
There is much at stake here as Evolution is the world’s biggest supplier of live dealer casino games. It’s also the most reputable name in the industry. With a total stock value of $33 billion, Evolution has its hands in many realms of the live gaming experience. The company has provided extensive support for games such as blackjack and roulette all around the world, and now in places such a New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
Evolution has been building up a portfolio of distinct game shows that have remained at the forefront of the industry. When approached by Bloomberg News, Evolution responded through Carl Linton, the head of investor relations at the company, arguing that the allegations brought against it weren’t accurate. “Evolution strictly complies with all applicable laws and regulations,” Lincoln explained. He added: “We have no direct relationship with the underlying player and no involvement in handling of players’ money.”
Why Does It Matter?
The United States has issued a flurry of licenses over the past years, enabling iGaming and interactive wagering to take place all over the country. While each state is free to determine its own rules for issuing such licenses, New Jersey has argued in its legal framework that licensees should seek to demonstrate “good character, honesty, and integrity.”
The state has made a very specific point about “bad actors,” companies that operated targeting the US market before they had a legal right to do so. This means that any “black market” operations will be scrutinized. Bloomberg has reached out to the DGE to get their input, but the regulator has turned down comment.
The evidence against the company was brought on by private investigators, the article explains. These investigators allege that they were able to access Evolution games from countries that are under current US sanctions, that includes Sudan, Iran, and Syria where operators allegedly accepted bets and offered Evolution software. The letter even claims that members of the family of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad have been among those gaming. All investigations were carried under cover.
Investigators Claim to Have Hard Evidence
To build a more compelling case, as per the letter which GamblingNews has not seen, investigators claim to have recorded themselves playing at those prohibited operators. They have shared those videos with Bloomberg, the media claims. Furthermore, the investigators used IPs based in Singapore and Hong Kong, where online gambling is also prohibited. Investigators used Bitcoin to move their money around and argued that Evolution also reportedly allows its products to be used by unlicensed operators in Italy, Sweden, and Spain.
Evolution has not hesitated to dismiss those claims outright. The company is adamant that its games may not be accessed or played from countries on the US sanction list. The company only offers products to operators who operate in legal markets, that is jurisdictions that explicitly allow online gambling products.
With its present market valuation, Evolution has zero interest in pursuing illegal operations, GamblingNews believes, as the company has repeatedly dominated markets it has entered into many lucrative agreements everywhere it went. With online gambling exploding and Evolution acquiring NetEnt, arguably the best provider of slot games in the world, the company has little incentive to be operating any type of clandestine operation presently.