A sensational accusation has been made by an American law firm that Evolution is operating illegally in a number of black markets around the globe.
Calgani & Kanefsky is the firm who, allegedly, is acting on behalf of an unnamed competitor to the live casino game specialist. Their senior counsel, Ralph Marra, has filed an action with the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement accusing Evolution of acting unlawfully by occupying markets facing US sanctions, including Iran and Syria.
Incredibly, a letter written by a private investigator – thought to have been hired by the anonymous competitor – that was read by Bloomberg journalists claimed a number of prominent figures in Syria, including family members of the President Bashar al-Assad, had played Evolution games illegally.
The investigator alleges that they accessed Evolution’s live dealer games in countries that US firms should not be trading in due to existing sanctions. It has also been suggested that the company is active in nations where online gambling is strictly prohibited, with Sudan named in the legal action.
Evolution AB, the group leader of the casino brand and its subsidiaries, is based in Sweden, however as the market leader in their given niche that operates widely in North America, they will still have to face a case brought by US enforcement officials.
At the time of writing, they are yet to make their own statement about the accusations, although their spokesperson Carl Linton told Bloomberg that ‘Evolution strictly complies with all applicable laws and regulations.’
Alarmingly, the casino operator’s share value plummeted by a shocking $3 billion – or £2.2 billion – almost overnight once the news of the legal case had leaked publicly.
OMG for B2B?
One of the complications for Evolution is that they operate in the Business-to-Business (B2B) space, and that can make it very difficult for them to track exactly who is using their software and there.
For example, if a brand called Dave’s Casino came along and acquired the licencing for Evolution’s software, they might use it on a site located in a legal jurisdictions, but there might be those who are able to access the casino via a VPN service in countries where gambling is strictly forbidden.
The situation is complicated by those casino operators that utilise a Curacao licence, which is rather more forgiving and certainly less restrictive than licensing sourced elsewhere.
Linton confirmed that Evolution only works with casino platforms that have licensing in place and are regulated in some way, and that his firm has ‘no direct relationship with the underlying player and no involvement of handling of players’ money.’
To be issued a licence in the USA, all firms must show ‘good character’ and adhere to necessary state and federal laws. Evolution currently operates in New Jersey, where the complaint has been filed, as well as Pennsylvania and Michigan, and they are by some margin the market leader in each.
So even though the accusations are based on illegal activities overseas, they still infringe federal law on trading in countries facing US sanctions – Evolution clearly have some explaining to do, and the risks of the B2B model are clear for all to see.