Monthly Newsletter – February 2020

Europe’s monthly online gambling news

EGBA launches consultation for an online gambling industry Code of Conduct on GDPR

The European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) has launched a consultation on its draft online gambling industry Code of Conduct for compliance with the EU General Data Protection Regulation 2016/679 (GDPR). We would like to hear the views of EU-based online gambling companies, gambling regulators, and other interested parties, on the Code. The Code aims to add value to the implementation of the GDPR by providing sector-specific guidance for online gambling companies, through the use of examples and best practices, on how to comply with the GDPR. The Code will apply to EGBA members and is open for adherence by other online gambling companies, provided they adhere to its full content. Deadline for reply: 25 February 2020.

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European Commission presents strategies for data and Artificial Intelligence

The European Commission has unveiled its ideas and actions for a digital transformation that works for all, reflecting the best of Europe: open, fair, diverse, democratic and confident. It presents a European society powered by digital solutions that put people first, opens up new opportunities for businesses, and boosts the development of trustworthy technology to foster an open and democratic society and a vibrant and sustainable economy. Digital is a key enabler to fighting climate change and achieving the green transition. The European data strategy and the policy options to ensure the human-centric development of Artificial Intelligence (AI) presented yestoday are the first steps towards achieving these goals.

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EGBA commits to promoting a safer internet

Safer Internet Day, an EU-initiative aimed at promoting a safer and more responsible use of the internet, was on 11 February. As an official partner organisation of the Safer Internet Day initiative, EGBA commits itself to promoting a safe, fun & responsible environment for online betting in 2020. Online gambling now represents 23% of all gambling activity in the EU and continues to grow. With its increased popularity comes an even greater responsibility to protect minors and vulnerable groups from exposure to gambling and ensure the 16 million Europeans who regularly bet online can do so in a safe and responsible environment.

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EU Heads Towards Digital Standardisation, As UK Faces Brexit Uncertainty

On the day of the UK’s departure from the EU, EGBA urged the European Commission to include a review of its approach to online gambling in a drive for consistent digital rules. Speaking with VIXIO GamblingCompliance, the EGBA said it is confident that strengthening the operation of the digital single market will lead to more European online gambling standardisation. The news comes as the UK leaves the European Union and enters its “transition period” with the EU until the end of 2020. EGBA secretary general Maarten Haijer said the EU’s policy emphasis on making the digital economy work for consumers will “inevitably” see online gambling regulation “pulled into the discussion”. “With 26 of 27 EU member states now having a comparable multi-licence regime, the regulatory differences between countries are getting smaller and the need for common solutions increases.” said Haijer.

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IBIA: 183 betting integrity alerts reported in 2019

The International Betting Integrity Association (IBIA) reported 183 cases of suspicious betting to the relevant authorities during 2019, with 45 of those cases reported in the last quarter (Q4). The annual total represents a 31% fall in alerts from 2018, with tennis accounting for the vast majority of that decline. Tennis (101) and football (49) constituted 82% of all alerts reported during 2019, with Europe (48%) and Asia (28%) maintaining their positions as the primary locations of the sports events on which alerts were generated during that period.

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MEP hosts anti-money laundering workshop

The European Commission is set to publish a new action plan to combat money laundering on 25 March. The action plan is to be followed by long overdue legislative proposals. Earlier this week, at a joint event in the European Parliament, together with Wim Mijs, Chief Executive Officer of the European Banking Federation (EBF) and Sebastian Fiedler, Chair of the Federation of German Police Officers (BDK), MEP Sven Giegold presented proposals for the priorities the EU Commission should set in the area of ​​financial crime.

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National developments

Bulgaria: Ministry unveils new gaming commission panel

Bulgaria’s Ministry of Finance has placed Georgi Yordanov in temporary charge of the country’s State Gambling Commission (SCC) following the resignation of Alexander Georgiev. Yordanov will now act as chairman of the regulator, having most recently served as Chief of Cabinet of the Minister of Finance, a role he had held since November 2014. Prior to this, he was head of the Inspectorate of the Ministry of Environment and Water and also spent time as a state inspector at the Inspectorate of the Ministry of Finance. Earlier in his career, he was Director of the Inspectorate of the Ministry of Agriculture and Food, and Chief Secretary of the National Plant Protection Service.

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Denmark: Changes to self exclusion – new executive orders have come into force

As of January 1, 2020, new executive orders in the Danish Act on Gambling have come into force. This means that there are several major changes in the self exclusion system ROFUS. The biggest change is the new “delete button”. Before the new orders, ROFUS registrants had to submit a written request to the Gambling Authority to be deleted in ROFUS. After January 1, 2020, the customer must make their own request for deletion via the ROFUS website.

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France: Unified gambling authority inbound for spring 2020

Isabelle Falque-Pierrotin, State Councillor for France’s ‘National Commission for Data Protections’, has announced that her department will soon unveil its new government structure managing regulatory oversight of French gambling. Regarded as France’s leading civil servant on digital enterprise and consumer ethics, last October the En Marche government appointed Falque-Pierrotin to spearhead the development of L’autorité Nationale des Jeux (ANJ) – French gambling’s new regulatory body. In her remit, Falque-Pierrotin has been tasked with developing a new French gambling authority which will absorb the responsibilities of regulatory incumbents the French Treasury (land-based gaming), ARJEL (online gambling) and the Department of Agriculture (horseracing).

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Germany: Gambling Treaty Explained (PODCAST)

The highly lucrative Germany online gambling market has operated under a shadow of regulatory uncertainty for many years, driven largely by the inability by the countries sixteen states or lenders to agree on a comprehensive treaty to regulate all forms of gambling. That is now set to change after the surprise announcement of a new gambling treaty agreed by all German states set to radically alter the country’s online gaming landscape. In this episode, two legal experts from German firm Melchers spoke to Gambling Compliance about the draft law, with particular emphasis on what it means for online casinos.

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Germany: Don’t let overly restrictive measures jeopardise Germany’s new gambling regulations – EGBA

As the discussions on Germany’s future online gambling regulations continue, EGBA has outlined several recommendations aimed at improving the proposals for a Third State Treaty on gambling, ahead of a stakeholder meeting organised by the North Westphalia regional government on 19 February. EGBA welcomes progress towards developing a new online gambling regulation but warns that the draft treaty proposals are inconsistent, overly restrictive in the context of current consumer demand, and jeopardise the task of developing a fully functioning online gambling market in Germany.

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Ireland: British Horseracing Authority to monitor Irish betting trends

Irish racing’s regulatory body has signed a deal with its British counterpart to monitor betting trends on the sport in Ireland. Last year the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board tendered for an outside body to supply extra examination of betting trends and investigate rule breaches. The four-year commercial package was estimated at the time to cost €350,000 and the British Horseracing Authority has ultimately emerged successful. An IHRB spokesman didn’t comment on the value of the deal but said: “We will be working together in different areas of intelligence. It’s just a stronger link between the two of us.” The tender replicated other sports organisations around the world which have employed sports betting monitoring companies in recent years.

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Lithuania: Parliament agrees bill to make gambling ad warnings mandatory

Lithuania’s legislature, the Seimas, has passed a bill that will require all gambling advertisements to include a warning about gambling-related harm from 1 July. The bill is an amendment to Article 10 of the country’s gambling laws and was proposed by Mykolas Majauskas of the Homeland Union Lithuanian Christian Democratic Party. The bill was passed by consensus after no objectoins were raised at its first reading. “Gambling is not an evil in itself, but as the sector develops, it is important to be able to control the risks involved and minimise the negative consequences,” Majauskas said. “There is no need to jam poles into the spokes of the gaming market’s wheels in a way that would pull it off the road, but at least you need to attach reflectors.”

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Netherlands: KSA chairman calls on gambling companies to be responsible

René Jansen, chairman of the Dutch Gaming Authority (KSA), has called on gambling providers to behave responsibly ahead of the opening of the Dutch online gambling market. “Responsible gambling cannot just be a PR slogan, it really has to be in the corporate DNA”, said Mr. Jansen in his keynote speech at the Annual Gaming Industry Event in Amsterdam on 31 January. Read the speech below.

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Norway: Regulator launches new responsible gambling campaign

Norwegian regulator Lotteri-og stiftelsestilsynet (Lotteritilsynet) has rolled out a new responsible gambling campaign to highlight the risks of problem gambling and encourage players to only gamble with licensed operators. The campaign has been launched after research by the regulator suggested some 34,000 people in Norway suffer from gambling problems, while a further 88,000 are at risk of developing similar issues. Lotteritilsynet aims to highlight how problem gambling can have serious mental and financial consequences, which can in turn then affect a player’s spouse, partner, children, other relatives and friends.

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Spain: Minister confirms Royal Decree sign-off on 28 February

Alberto Garzón, Spain’s newly appointed Minister of Consumer Affairs, has revealed that Royal Decree reforms will be formally announced on Friday 28 February. Garzón made his statement addressing civil servants of Spain’s DGOJ gambling regulatory authority at a meeting hosted by the Consumer Affairs Ministry. The long-awaited reforms for Spain’s advertising code on gambling products are to be presented to Congress on 28 February, which will see the newly elected PSOE-Podemos coalition government formally approve the decree as federal law. The decree’s ascension into federal law ends a year-long wait for Spanish licensed operators, who during 2019 were made aware of sweeping inbound changes to Spain’s federal advertising code.

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Spain: Espinosa maintains DGOJ leadership ahead of Spanish gambling overhaul

Juan Garcia Espinosa will maintain his position as Director-General of Spanish gambling regulatory authority – Dirección General de Ordenación del Juego (DGOJ). On 29 January, Spain’s newly formed PSOE and Podemos coalition government concluded a Council of Ministers meeting, in which ‘structural changes’ to Spanish ministerial departments were confirmed. Despite sanctioning significant ministerial changes, Spain’s ‘socialist union’ coalition government has chosen to maintain Espinosa as the nation’s lead civil servant for gambling policies. Leading the DGOJ since 2017, Espinosa has led a number of key policy initiatives primarily focused on improving the treatment of gambling harms, improving the DGOJ’s collaborative frameworks and reclassifying gambling addiction as a mental health issue.

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Sweden: Industry body urges rethink over Swedish match-fixing proposals

Branschföreningen för Onlinespel (BOS), Sweden’s igaming operator trade association, and industry consulting company H2 Gambling Capital have called on Swedish regulator Spelinspektionen to drop proposals ban certain betting markets, saying the measures would push consumers to unlicensed operators. Both organisations were responding to a consultation on proposals put forward by Spelinspektionen last month. The amendment to Swedish gaming rules would see licensed operators prohibited from offering odds on rule violations such as yellow cards in football or faults in tennis. The regulator believes the measures will help tackle match-fixing by removing any potential reward for athletes that commit certain acts for to fix betting results.

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Switzerland: Swiss regulator adds 35 more websites to gambling blacklist

Swiss gambling regulator the Eidgenössische Spielbankenkommission (ESBK) has added another 35 websites to its blacklist of unlicensed operators. Last September, the ESBK and Inter-Cantonal Lotteries and Betting Commission (Comlot) each published lists of companies not permitted to operate in the country. These lists are updated on regular basis with new sites. Article 86 of the Geldspielgesetz, permits the ESBK to request internet service providers to block access to platforms that are accessible in Switzerland but not licensed, using a domain name server lock.

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UK: Gambling Commission releases guidance to help consumers limit gambling-related content on Twitter

The Gambling Commission has partnered with Twitter to create guidance aimed at supporting users who want to limit the amount of gambling-related content they see on the social media platform. The guidance explains the different ways in which Twitter’s safety tools and settings can be adjusted within an individual account, to help mitigate the risk of exposure to gambling-related messaging and advertisements. This year the Gambling Commission is also looking to produce similar guidance for users of other social media platforms. Twitter is the first to work with the Gambling Commission on this initiative.

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UK: Betting and Gaming Council Calls for government to use Online Harms Bill to crackdown on unregulated gambling operators

Analysis conducted for the new standards body, the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) which represents UK regulated operators, reveals consumers are exposed to large numbers of unlicensed operators (38%) through search results for key gambling terms on major search engines: 4 in 10 search results for key gambling terms on major search engines are unlicensed black-market operators; Danger that children are accessing illegal websites with no strict ID and age verification measures unlike U.K. licensed operators; 27 million visits from UK IP addresses to black—market gambling sites; Estimated 200,000 people in U.K. have used illegal gambling sites in past 12 months. The BGC calls on the government to ensure that the Online Harms Bill, soon to be introduced in parliament, includes action to crack down on platforms who profit from unregulated, black market gambling operators.

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UK: New industry chief calls for race to the top on standards in gambling (blog)

This week I start as chief executive at the new standards body, the Betting and Gaming Council after three years as CEO at UK Music. The BGC brings together betting shops, casinos and online operators to drive improvements in standards across the regulated industry. If I’m being honest, a typical reaction to my appointment came from a mate who said: “Why on earth would you want to do that? Have you had enough of going to the BRIT Awards?!” One cabinet minister texted me to say they thought I was “brave”. Sadly I could tell they meant it in the same way Sir Humphrey, in ‘Yes Minister’, famously described a potentially stupid or reckless decision as “very brave and courageous”. The role will certainly be challenging.

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Market News

Danish regulator publishes 2019 market statistics
Germany German sports betting stakes up 21% in 2019
France Sports betting powers French online GGR to €1.42bn in 2019
Ireland Racecourse betting ring rallies in 2019 with increase in turnover
Lithuania iGaming growth pushes Lithuanian market revenue to €112.6m
Portugal Portuguese online gambling revenue reaches €65.4m in Q4
Sweden Kindred Group plc – Year end report January – December 2019 (unaudited)
Sweden Betsson Group plc – Strong full-year operating profit thanks to geographical spread and efficient organisation


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