Monthly Newsletter – May 2019

Europe’s monthly online gambling news

EGBA’s manifesto for the new EU term

As Europeans head to the polls on 23-26 May, the European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) is calling on the incoming European Parliament and Commission to act in the online gambling sector to ensure Europe’s online gamblers are better protected. With online betting now representing more than 20% of the EU gambling market, the lack of common EU rules for online betting is jeopardising players safety when they play online. That’s because EU countries have different rules for regulating online gambling and there are significant disparities in the quality of these national regulations, including the consumer protections available to online gamblers. Read more about the manifesto in the weblink below. Source: EGBA.

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EGBA’s Online Gambling Focus – Spring 2019 – Intellectual property rights

Intellectual property (IP) rights and their relationship with online gambling is the topic for our first Online Gambling Focus of 2019. With more advertising now taking place online, there are risks that the placement of and revenue from advertising might be used to fund websites which breach IP rights. A common example of this is product advertising displayed on streaming websites that feature content which infringes IP rights. In this edition we are pleased to have contributions from both the EU and the advertising sector. Harrie Temmink, from the European Commission, elaborates on the EU-led initiatives to safeguard IP rights online and Stevan Randjelovic, from GroupM, gives his perspective on the role of advertisers in keeping advertising compliant with IP rights. Source: EGBA.

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Betting on politics: Who’s going to win the European elections?

Whether it’s placing a bet on your favorite political party’s election chances or on Michel Barnier to win the European Commission’s top job, betting on politics is a popular pastime for many Europeans. It’s also our job. So, when the UK recently signed up to participate in the upcoming European elections, at least one group of people were delighted: the bookmakers. The prospect of another election is good news for our business and our customers. The Brexit referendum in 2016 was a huge betting event; it broke all records for UK bookmakers and saw thousands of people place their first-ever political bet. That trend continued with the shock victory of Donald Trump in the US — although it was a disaster for at least one betting company, which was so sure of Hillary Clinton’s success that it paid out bets on her winning two weeks before the election. Source: Politico.

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Macolin treaty on match-fixing to enter into force in September

The Council of Europe Convention on the Manipulation of Sports Competitions, also known as the Macolin Convention, will enter into force on 1 September. Switzerland, on 16 May, became the fifth Council of Europe member state to ratify the convention – following Norway, Portugal, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine – triggering its entry into force. “The entry into force of the Macolin Convention is good news for everyone who values fair play and integrity in sport,” said Council of Europe Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland.  Launched in 2014, the Macolin Convention is the only legally-binding international treaty promoting global co-operation to tackle the manipulation of sports competitions. Denmark has urged action to resolve a number of contentious elements of the convention. Source: Council of Europe.

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National developments

Czech Republic: Government Prepares Bill Cancelling CzechPOINT Registration

The Czech Republic’s Ministry of Finance is preparing a bill that will introduce several longed for amendments to the country’s Anti-Money Laundering (AML) Act. A copy of the draft amendments and an accompanying explanatory report seen by GamblingCompliance outline the justifications for and impact of the proposed changes. One of the bill’s most meaningful changes would mean that online gambling operators without a land-based presence in the country would no longer have to rely on their customers going to a government “CzechPOINT” to sign up to their services. GamblingCompliance reported in March the widespread belief among local legal experts that the government was preparing to soften its regulations, including removing the in-person registration requirement. Source: Gambling Compliance ($).

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Denmark: Danish regulator launches whistleblower scheme

Danish regulator Spillemyndigheden has established a new whistleblower scheme allowing employees of gambling operators to report evidence or suspicions of wrongdoing in relation to money laundering laws. Individuals concerned about activities that could place the operator in breach of money laundering legislation can contact the regulator directly via a dedicated section on its website. Reports can be sent to Spillemyndigheden anonymously, while all submissions will be encrypted to ensure security throughout the process. The regulator will analyse each report, make a legal assessment and take further action if deemed necessary. Source: iGaming Business/Spillemyndigheden.

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Germany: New draft law notified to the European Commission

The Second State Treaty amending the State Treaty on Games of Chance, already notified through the European Commission’s TRIS system, was not approved by all federal state parliaments and therefore did not enter into force. The substance of some of the provisions envisaged at that time and already notified are now to be implemented with the Third State Treaty amending the State Treaty on Games of Chance.  Source: European Commission.

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Greece: New draft law notified to the European Commission

Greece notified to the European Commission a draft technical regulation on “Online gaming market reforms – Amendment of Law 4002/2011” (2019/149/GR), which amends the main gambling act. The updates concern, mostly, the rules and fees for the licensing procedure for online gambling operators. Moreover, it regulates affiliates and introduces a mandatory register for them. Greece also notified two draft technical regulations on offline casinos (2019/165/GR and 2019/166/GR). Source: European Commission.

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Ireland: Gambling watchdog plan is ‘given full backing’

There has been no opposition to the government’s plan to establish an independent gambling regulator since it was announced two months ago, according to David Stanton, a junior minister in the Department of Justice. He said that all stakeholders wanted it as soon as possible. The Gaming and Lotteries (Amendment) Bill would establish an independent regulator responsible for the licensing of all gambling operators. It would also set up a social fund to provide treatment for gambling addicts, funded by a levy on licence holders. Speaking at a seminar on licensing and regulation of gambling, Mr Stanton said he expected that the regulator would be established within the 18-month timeframe outlined in March. Source: The Times.

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Ireland: EGBA speak at stakeholder seminar on Irish gambling bill

On 15 May, the European Gaming and Betting Association’s Dr. Katie Hartmann, Director of Legal and Regulatory Affairs, spoke at a stakeholder seminar in Dublin about proposed changes to the gambling regulations in Ireland. The seminar, organised by the Irish Department of Justice and Equality, followed the publication of the Irish Government’s Gaming and Lotteries (Amendment) Bill 2019 on 20 March 2019, which is part of a legislative package to regulate gambling activity in Ireland, including the online sector. The new bill foresees the creation of an independent gambling regulator and a number of other changes to Ireland’s gambling framework. Source: EGBA.

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Malta: New law notified to European Commission

Malta has notified a draft for the Enhanced Automated Reporting Platform (Land-Based) Directive (2019/163/MT). The Directive imposes obligations on a category of entities holding a gambling licence with the Malta Gaming Authority to adopt measures that would allow for the full implementation of the Authority’s automated reporting system. Source: European Commission.

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Malta: Gaming Authority signs Memorandum of Understanding with the Malta Police Force

The Malta Gaming Authority and the Malta Police Force have entered into a Memorandum of Understanding to further increase and improve the efficacy of their co-operation and to strengthen the exchange of information with regards to gaming operations. This understanding aims to consolidate undertakings in combatting gaming related offences such as instances where parties are involved in joint operations requiring the seizure of objects and other illegal gaming activities. These may include assisting in the prosecution of the aforementioned illegal activities and any other investigative requirements. Source: Malta Gaming Authority.

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Netherlands: Plans for Holland Casino privatisation are cancelled

The Dutch government has cancelled plans to privatise the state-owned Holland Casino group because it cannot count enough backing in the senate, the AD said on Friday afternoon. Senators did in February back plans to licence other online gambling providers in the Netherlands and senators want to give this change time to take effect, the paper said. In addition, senators are concerned that privatised casinos may encourage gambling and are worried about the way that the government planned to proceed with the privatisation process. The draft legislation was approved by MPs two years ago. The plan included selling 10 of the 14 branches under their current name while the other four locations would have been sold as a group. The cabinet had also planned to open up the casino market to new providers – with two licences up for grabs. Source: Dutch News.

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Norway: New proposals on blocking unlicensed marketing

Norway has notified to the European Commission a “Consultation paper – proposal of changes in the Norwegian Broadcasting Act” (2019/9003/N). The amendments proposed aim to give to the Norwegian Media Authority the authority to issue orders to prevent or impede illegal marketing of gambling services that are transmitted via television or on-demand audiovisual media services.  Source: European Commission.

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Norway: Plans to tighten up rules to ban unlicensed games

The Norwegian government has adopted a number of amendments to gambling regulations in the country in an effort to clamp down on operators offering services without the relevant licence. The measures relate to payment transactions, with the government clarifying an existing ban on payments to and from unlicensed operators in Norway. According to the amendments, the ban applies to both unlicensed operators and companies that carry out payments on behalf of them. The Norwegian Gaming Authority (Lottstift) will now have the power to reject payment transactions related to certain account numbers, as well as make decisions regarding an operator or other payment intermediaries. Source: iGaming Business.

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Spain: Spanish regulator hosts Regulators Meeting in Madrid

On 8-9 May, representatives from gambling authorities from France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Portugal and Spain have met in Madrid. After an update on the situation of their respective remote gaming and gambling national markets, representatives have discussed and exchanged experiences on, amongst others, issues related to consumer engagement and commercial promotions in the remote gambling bussiness, such as bonuses, new marketing trends, the attraction of new gambling customers through social networks, the role of influencers or affiliates, and the current importance of traditional forms of advertisement. Source: General Directorate for the Regulation of Gambling (DGOJ).

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Spain: Regulator publishes annual activity report

As a result of the commitment with all players in the gaming sector and, more importantly, with society as a whole, we publish the Activity Report of the General Directorate for the Regulation of Gambling. This time we proceed to consolidate the approach established in the previous year, both in the presentation used and in the content of the issues that are addressed, trying that, as already pointed out last year, this effort of synthesis and clarity in the presentation of data, serves to facilitate the understanding of both the level of activity and the scope of action that concerns us. Thus, we continue with the perspective of incorporating the activity data of the General Management in the year 2018, complementing them with the main magnitudes of the market of gambling at the state level. Source: General Directorate for the Regulation of Gambling (DGOJ).

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Sweden/UK: Swedish and Gibraltar regulators sign MoU

Swedish gambling regulator Spelinspektionen has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Gibraltar Ministry of Commerce’s Gambling Division (GGD), to formalise cooperation agreements between the two. Spelinspektionen and the GGD will work together on a number of areas, with the MoU setting out provisions for information sharing on matters of mutual interest and policy areas. Both authorities have also agreed to offer operational assistance to each other on a continuous basis, in accordance with both of their respective procedures and regulatory policies. Source: iGaming Business.

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UK: Regulator action results in further £4.5m in penalty packages for online gambling sector

Four gambling businesses are to pay a total of £4.5m in penalty packages as part of the Gambling Commission’s ongoing investigation into the online casino sector. InTouch Games Limited will pay £2.2m, Betit Operations Limited will pay £1.4m, and MT Secure Trade will pay £700,000 in lieu of financial penalties, and BestBet will pay a financial penalty of £230,972. The penalty packages relate to the businesses failings to put in place effective safeguards to prevent money laundering and keep consumers safe from gambling harm. The penalty packages form part of an ongoing investigation into the online casino sector.  Source: Gambling Commission.

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UK: New age and identity verification rules – changes to the LCCP from Tuesday 7 May

New rules come in on Tuesday 7 May surrounding age and identity verification procedures for online operators. These new rules follow an open consultation and aim to ensure operators verify customers’ age and identity details quickly and robustly. The changes to Licence conditions and codes of practice (LCCP) will affect remote betting and gaming operators, and some remote lotteries. They include: New licence condition 17 which sets out minimum requirements for identity verification; Changes to Social Responsibility Code Provision 3.2.11 for age verification for remote betting and gaming; Changes to Social Responsibility Code Provision 3.2.13 for age verification for some remote lotteries. The Commission’s consultation responses document provides a full explanation of the background and the nature of these LCCP changes. Source: Gambling Commission.

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Market News

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