Monthly Newsletter – April 2020

Europe’s monthly online gambling news

EGBA publishes first pan-European code for responsible advertising for online gambling

The European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) has published the first pan-European Code of Conduct for responsible advertising for online gambling. The Code is broad in scope and introduces essential standards for advertising content, across all media platforms, and dedicated measures for social media. The Code has a particular focus on minor protection. The “Code of Conduct on Responsible Advertising for Online Gambling” intends to complement and strengthen existing legal and self-regulatory frameworks for online gambling advertising in Europe.

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COVID-19: European gambling associations issue guidance on safer online gambling and responsible advertising

With increasing global concern about the impact of the Coronavirus (COVID-19), the health, safety and well-being of the general public is of utmost concern. During this particularly concerning time for citizens online gambling companies should act socially responsible and ensure that those Europeans who choose to gamble online can continue do so in a safe and secure environment. In this respect, we strongly oppose the apparent reference to the coronavirus in some recent gambling advertising and urge all online gambling companies to ensure that …

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EGBA: Safer gambling more important than ever during coronavirus

Responsible and safer gambling is an essential objective everyday of the year, we all want a sustainable industry with customers that can enjoy their play in a safe environment. But it is now even more important as millions of Europeans are isolated at home due to the coronavirus lockdown. Thankfully there are many tools available to help gamblers manage their online gambling in a responsible way. But the onus shouldn’t only be on the customers, online gambling companies should also act responsibly and be mindful of their social responsibilities during these difficult times. Common sense goes a long way.

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Covid-19: gambling market facing 18.6% revenue hit

H2 Gambling Capital has further downgraded its revenue forecast for the global gambling market as the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic continues to disrupt the sector. iGB’s principal data partner is now projecting 2020 global gambling gross win of £384.4bn, 18.8% below the forecast it provided before the outbreak began to materially impact the sector in early February, starting with the casino closures in Macau (see Charts 1 and 2 below). Following today’s downgrade by a further two percentage points over the last seven days, global gambling revenue is now tracking below the total recorded for 2012 (see Chart 8).

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Moody’s says Covid-19 will spark more gambling mergers

Covid-19 will spark further deals among gambling businesses like the merger of Paddy Power-owner Flutter Entertainment with the Stars Group, credit analysts say. Flutter shareholders backed the Irish group’s proposed merger with Toronto-based Stars to create a global online gambling giant with more than 10 million customers. Moody’s analysts Florent Egonneau and Jeanine Arnold say the wave of consolidation in the industry that prompted the Flutter-Stars merger is likely to accelerate when the coronavirus pandemic abates. Gambling companies will seek greater scale and more online business to strengthen their businesses, they say.

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Only five member states meet key money laundering deadline

A large majority of members states failed to introduce by 10 January public registers to reveal the true owners of all companies based in their countries, as part of the fight against money laundering, a report published on 20 March revealed. Transparency regarding companies’ beneficial owners is one of the key points of the fifth update to EU’s Anti-Money Laundering Directive (AMLD). An analysis of the 27 member states, made by Global Witness, an NGO that focuses on corruption issues, showed that only five countries have implemented a public register which is free to access.

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National developments

Belgium: Regulator names Clavie as new president

The Belgian Gaming Commission (BGC) has announced the appointment of Magali Clavie as its new president. Clavie, a magistrate and a former president of the Superior Council of Justice, will replace Etienne Marique in the position with the national regulatory body. She will be assisted in the role by Eva De Koninck, who was recently appointed as interim director of the organisation. Though Clavie will take on the role with immediate effect, her responsibilities and duties will be temporarily limited due to the ongoing situation regarding novel coronavirus.

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Belgium: Online gambling ops to challenge weekly deposit limit

Belgium’s online gambling operators are mulling a legal challenge of the country’s new €500 deposit limit, as their business is already down nearly two-fifths due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Belgian Association of Gambling Operators (BAGO) publicly expressed its displeasure with the Belgian Gambling Commission’s decision to impose a €500 weekly deposit limit per customer across all Belgian-licensed sites. The BGC justified the move by saying gamblers need extra help resisting temptation during their COVID-19 self-isolation.

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Denmark: Denmark blocks access to 16 illegal sites

Danish courts have blocked access to 16 illegal gambling websites following requests from the Danish Gaming Authority (Spillemyndigheden). A District Court ruled in favour of the regulator in March after it requested action be taken to block 17 unlicensed gambling sites. One of these 17 sites pulled out of the market before the court’s decision was announced. “We work to protect players against illegal gambling, and we also need to ensure that the operators who are licenced to offer gambling in Denmark can run their businesses under orderly conditions,” Director Morten Niels Jakobsen said.

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Finland: Finland cuts gambling loss limits to €500

The Finnish Ministry of the Interior has issued a decree significantly reducing monthly and weekly loss limits for online casino offered by Veikkaus, while the monopoly operator has also announced that lottery draws will be suspended until further notice. The decree states that the monthly loss limit for “fast-paced online games” will be reduced from €2,000 to €500 (£435.9/$541.8) as a result of the “exceptional circumstances” of the Covid-19 pandemic. The maximum daily loss per player has been halved from €1,000 to €500, meaning that an individual would be unable to gamble for the rest of the month should they lose the maximum in a day.

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France: ARJEL warns against bonuses and encourages limit setting

French igaming regulator L’Autorité de régulation des jeux en ligne (ARJEL) has issued responsible gambling advice to operators and players in lockdown due to the Covid-19 crisis. The regulator noted that the absence of sport and horse racing has attracted many players to poker, as well as to casino games on unlicensed websites. “Echoing operators’ initiatives in the area of responsible gambling, ARJEL remains particularly attentive to the risks of excessive gambling and advises players to keep control of their gambling so that it remains a recreational leisure activity,” ARJEL said.

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Germany: Court ruling halts German sportsbook licensing process

Germany’s leading sportsbook operator body the Deutscher Sportwettenverband (DSWV) has reacted with dismay after the Darmstadt Administrative Court halted the process to award the country’s federal sports betting licences. The licensing process was challenged by Vierklee, an Austrian sportsbook operator, which claimed the process, overseen by the Regional Council of Darmstadt, was being conducted with a lack of transparency and was discriminatory. While the full verdict is yet to be published, it represents a last-minute hurdle that casts doubt on whether operators will ever take bets under third amended State Treaty on Gambling.

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Latvia: Government rejects calls to lift COVID-19 online gambling ban

Latvia’s government has rejected calls to lift its ban on online gambling activity during the COVID-19 pandemic, despite there being no obvious health benefit to the prohibition. Lativa’s Saeima (parliament) voted down a proposal to exempt locally licensed online gambling operators from the temporary ban on gambling activity imposed last month to minimize further spread of the COVID-19.

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Lithuania: Lithuania suspends online advertising

Lithuanian gambling trade groups are voluntarily suspending all online gambling advertising until the country ends its emergency self-isolation measures, while other European countries indicate they could introduce such restrictive measures by force. The Lithuanian Gambling Business Association (LGBA) and the National Gambling and Gaming Business Association (NGGBA) have agreed to the ad suspension in consultation with local media outlets, but denied accusations that they had increased advertising during the country’s lockdown. (SUBSCRIPTION ARTICLE)

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Malta: MGA issues notice on socially responsible commercial communications with respect to COVID-19

The Covid-19 pandemic is proving to be a very trying time for all. The Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) is taking heed of all relevant developments and is constantly proposing adequate and proportionate measures. The Authority would like to take this opportunity to highlight the fact that this situation could also be particularly distressing to players. The MGA would like to remind its licensees that, in accordance with the Commercial Communications Regulations to which they are subject, all commercial communications must be socially responsible, especially in light of the current situation.

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Malta: MGA signs data deal with International Cricket Council

The MGA has entered into a data-sharing agreement with the International Cricket Council (ICC), the sport’s global governing body. Under the arrangement, the MGA and ICC will share data with each other, with the aim of tackling match fixing and other types of sporting manipulation. The ICC, made up of more than 100 national governing bodies around the world, governs and administrates cricket, stages events, oversees playing regulations and runs an integrity unit to coordinate action against corruption and match fixing.

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Malta: MGA and the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit sign a Memorandum of Understanding

The MGA and the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit (FIAU) have consolidated their long standing relationship by means of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), specifically aimed at improving the sharing of information and co-operation between the two entities, on the areas of supervision of Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Combating the Financing of Terrorism (CFT), provided for by the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (Cap. 373 of the Laws of Malta).

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Norway: iGaming drives revenue growth for Norsk Tipping in 2019

Norway’s lottery and gaming monopoly Norsk Tipping put marginal growth in revenue for 2019 down to the strong performance of its online gaming offering, though admitted that tighter player protection controls had cut the full year total by around NOK200m. Full year turnover grew 5.6% year-on-year to NOK40.27bn, aided by customer numbers growing to a record 2.0m, of which 28% were aged under 40, according to chief executive Åsne Havnelid. Online gaming turnover was up 29.8% to NOK18.03bn, above lottery, which contributed NOK10.56bn. Sports betting turnover also grew, rising 4.8%.

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Poland: Polish bookmakers call for temporary tax reduction

Poland’s Association of Employers and Employees of Bookmakers has called on the country’s government to step in and help the sector avoid significant job losses as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. The industry association said it has seen the number of bets placed drop by around 60% due to the cancellation of sports across the globe. This decline is expected to worsen, it warned, particularly after all retail bookmakers in Poland closed from 14 March.

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Spain: Spain issues new online gambling ad limits during virus lockdown

Spain’s online gambling operators have been told to restrict their marketing efforts to avoid taking advantage of problem gamblers on lockdown during the COVID-19 pandemic. Spanish media reported that the government’s Council of Ministers had taken the advice of the Ministry of Consumer Affairs to prohibit online gambling advertising for the duration of the country’s coronavirus lockdown “to prevent bookmakers from doing business with people’s concern and anxiety.”

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Sweden: Sweden’s unregulated online casino gambling is nearly twice official estimates – Study (EGBA reaction)

Levels of unregulated online casino gambling in Sweden are nearly twice the official estimates, according to a new study by Copenhagen Economics. The study found that 22-28% of online casino gambling and 15-20% of sportsbetting is unregulated, higher than the country’s official estimates for unregulated online gambling. The findings of the study are concerning but provide valuable insight into the behaviour and motivations of Swedish gamblers at a time when the Swedish government is planning to introduce significant restrictions on the regulated online market activity, including severe deposit restrictions and restrictions on lower football league betting. According to the study, 40% of Sweden’s online casino customers, and 30% of sports betting customers, either gamble on unlicensed websites or would consider doing so.

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Sweden: Sweden’s online gambling ops cutting advertising spending

Sweden’s gambling operators continue to curb their advertising spending, while the local regulator has fined another online casino licensee for failing to observe proper self-exclusion protocols. Figures published this week show online casino operator Cherry AB topping the list of Swedish-licensed gambling operators in terms of advertising spending in the month of March. Cherry ranked third on the list with a total outlay of SEK52.1m (US$5.15m), although this represented a nearly 59% decline from the same month last year. State-run Svenska Spel ranked seventh on the list with an outlay of SEK42.3m, down nearly 50% from March 2019. Unibet’s parent company Kindred Group placed a distant 17th as its spending fell nearly two-thirds to SEK33.2m.

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UK: BGC members to remove TV and radio gaming advertising during COVID-19 lockdown

The UK’s largest betting and gaming operators in the regulated sector are set to voluntarily remove all TV and radio gaming advertising during the COVID-19 lockdown. The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC), the industry standards body which represents betting shops, online betting and gaming, bingo and casinos, has agreed the voluntary removal of all gaming product advertising as a further part of its response to the COVID-19 lockdown, despite a drop in advertising spend and the volume of TV sport and casino advertisements dropping by up to 10 per cent.

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UK: Donations to GambleAware surpass £10 million for first time

Donations to problem gambling charity GambleAware have exceeded its £10 million minimum target for the first time, it has been revealed. Gambling operators made voluntary donations to the charity of £10.05m, money which helps fund a range of services, including the National Gambling Treatment Service, which includes the National Gambling Helpline. Previous failures to reach GambleAware’s target figure for donations have led to calls for the current voluntary funding system to be replaced by a mandatory levy on operators.

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Market News

 France French lottery operator FDJ cuts dividend as coronavirus hits Q1 sales
 Greece Bets off at Greece’s OPAP after coronavirus shutdowns
 Lithuania Covid-19 erodes Lithuanian gambling revenue in Q1
 Netherlands Holland Casino revenue and profits increase in 2019
 Sweden Betsson AB Interim Report January – March 2020
 Sweden Kindred Group plc – Interim report January – March 2020 (unaudited)

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