Malta Remote Gaming Council

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MRGC Breakfast Meeting - Actual Remote Gaming Contribution Revealed

Sunday, July 15, 2012

The MRGC Management Board had commissioned an economic survey to establish the contribution of the remote gaming industry to the local economy. After a tender process Deloitte & Touche had been selected to carry out the survey. A number of stakeholders contributed to the research and we would like to thank them for their co-operation. The report has been finalised and the Management Board of the MRGC is organising a breakfast meeting to present the findings of the survey. The Meeting is to be held at the Radisson Hotel, St Julian’s on the 20th July, 2012 with registration commencing at 09.00. Deloitte will also be making a presentation entitled "An overview of relevant local tax considerations arising from recent industry developments" If you are interested in attending please reply to this email at your earliest convience, with the name/s of the persons to attend and a postal address for the invitation to be sent. This meeting is by invitation only and therefore it is important that each person receives a formal invitation Best regards Management Board MRGC


Online gambling: European Parliament calls on Commission for hard EU action

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Today’s EP vote represents a positive shift in its position to embrace a common approach towards online gambling and also echoes EGBA’s calls to the Commission to pursue infringement cases against national regimes that are not compliant with EU law The European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) welcomes the report adopted today by the European Parliament (EP), calling by a clear majority for hard-edged EU-level action in the field of online gambling, starting with a common set of rules for consumer protection. According to Sigrid Ligné, Secretary General of the EGBA; “This vote constitutes a very welcome shift in the position of the European Parliament and we commend rapporteur Creutzmann for his achievement.” Only two years ago in a previous own-initiative report, the EP favoured the status quo and recommended that the EU leave the regulation of online gambling strictly to the national level. Today’s report acknowledges that, given the cross-border dimension of this growing eCommerce sector, national stand-alone solutions cannot be the way forward, and lists a series of EU actions, including: •An framework directive •Formalised cooperation between regulators under the supervision of the Commission •European standards for operators, consumer protection, advertising and electronic identification Importantly, the report also calls for: •More efficient national licence application procedures that avoid unnecessary duplication of administrative requirements and controls that have already been verified in another Member State •Consistent use of infringement procedures by the Commission to ensure full compliance of Member States’ gambling legislation with EU law. This vote gives a clear direction to the Commission that is in the process of concluding its Green Paper consultation launched in March 2011 and puts the spotlight back on Commissioner Michel Barnier who is leading the exercise. With the results of his consultation and the conclusions of the Commission’s expert workshops (1) available, Commissioner Barnier has now all of the evidence he needs to take action. Ligné concludes “Time is of the essence given that it is precisely now that Member States are pushing ahead and reregulating their national online gambling markets. Today the Commission has received political support to initiate EU actions. But any EU level action can take years to be adopted and this cannot be a pretext for inaction against Member States that infringe EU law. As the guardian of the Treaties, the Commission must act to curb further fragmentation of the Internal Market by consistently declaring protectionist national regimes to be incompatible with EU law. Yesterday, Michel Barnier confirmed that the Commission would take its responsibilities in this respect so we now expect him to urgently address the new complaints received and the infringement back-log, an area where the Commission has taken no action since 2008.” - END - Note to the Editors The last Commission action in the 8 pending gambling infringement cases is from February 2008. Despite having received several new complaints against national legislation and indeed itself issuing many Detailed Opinions against recent draft laws, the Commission has failed to open any new infringement cases since that date (see http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/services/gambling_en.htm) (1) See http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/services/gambling-workshops_en.htm For further information or comment please contact: Sigrid Ligné: +32 2 554 08 90 or +32 479 90 14 60 Sigrid.Ligne@egba.eu About EGBA The EGBA is an association of leading European gaming and betting operators Bet-at-home.com, BetClic, bwinparty, Digibet, Expekt, Interwetten, and Unibet. EGBA is a Brussels-based non-profit association. It promotes the right of private gaming and betting operators that are regulated and licensed in one Member State to a fair market access throughout the European Union. Online gaming and betting is a fast growing market, but will remain for the next decades a limited part of the overall European gaming market in which the traditional land based offer is expected to grow from € 79.6 Billion GGR in 2009 to € 83 Billion GGR in 2012, thus keeping the lion’s share with 87% of the market. Source: H2 Gambling Capital, April 2010 www.egba.eu


The European Casino Association deplores the European Commission Decision in the Danish St

Monday, November 14, 2011

The European Casino Association deplores the European Commission Decision in the Danish State Aid Case The European Commission today concluded that the different taxation regimes for online and land-based gambling operations in Denmark is compatible with European competition rules. According to the Commission, the law liberalising gambling in Denmark and applying lower taxes for online casinos (20 % on the GGR (GGR: gross gaming revenue : stakes minus winnings)) than for land-based casinos (75 % on the GGR) is acceptable because ”the positive effects of the liberalisation of the sector outweigh potential distortions of competition”. The European Casino Association deplores the argumentation behind the decision of the Commission, as it places the importance of liberalizing a market in the forefront rather than considering the reality of the competitiveness of the market, which is linked to the issue of protecting consumers and combatting fraud. "Legal licenses held by highly regulated land-based casinos should not be undermined by internet operators who have been operating illegally over the years, without paying taxes, nor abiding by consumer protection and anti-fraud measures” said Ron Goudsmit, Chairman of the ECA. "Exonerating these operators from the level of taxation imposed on land-based casinos will have a severe negative impact on casino operators with no gain to the regulating rationale” he added. Furthermore, this decision, and more specifically the rationale behind it, is completely to the detriment of the crucial importance of consumer protection and combatting fraud, two elements which lie at the heart of European gambling policy developments. Online gambling presents additional, different risks due to the lack of direct contact between consumer and operator and the high levels of addiction linked to the omnipresence of the games on the internet. When the Commission''s decision is published, the ECA will analyse in depth the argumentation of the Commission and comment accordingly. Source: European Casino Association


RGA Launches Greek State Aid Complaint

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Remote Gambling Association, representing the largest online gambling operators and software providers in the world, has today lodged a State aid complaint with the European Commission challenging the compatibility of the Greek Government''s new gambling law with EU State aid requirements. The complaint focuses on the favourable tax treatment afforded to the part state-owned gambling operator OPAP''s land-based services in relation to private online gambling operators. The complaint follows the recent adoption by the Greek Parliament of the new gambling law which regulates remote gambling. The RGA welcomes the fact that the legislation provides for the licensing of online operators, however it believes that the legislation has been geared towards delivering an unfair economic advantage to the existing monopoly operator OPAP. In particular, the complaint cites that following the introduction of the new regime for online gambling, OPAP would unjustifiably and favourably be exempt from the 30% gross profits tax on its offline land-based gambling products, a tax which online gambling operators are required to pay under the new law. Furthermore, the law also imposes a 10% withholding tax on all customers'' winnings with online operators, whereas the customers of OPAP''s land-based services are exempt from any tax on winnings of €100 or less, conferring a further competitive economic advantage on OPAP''s land-based gambling operations. Upon launching the complaint, Clive Hawkswood, Chief Executive of the RGA, said: "Despite the RGA having had a constructive relationship with the Greek authorities during the development of the new legislation, significant concerns remain about the viability and legality of the market under the terms of the new law. "Remote operators wish to obtain licences in Greece and to continue to offer Greek consumers competitive and well-regulated products. However the current unjustified fiscal favouritism being afforded to OPAP makes this extremely difficult and we urge the European Commission to investigate the new legislation for being in breach of State aid rules.” The Greek Government owns 34% of OPAP (valued at around €1.17bn), which currently has the exclusive right to offer sports betting and lottery products to Greek consumers. OPAP''s land-based service does not pay any form of gambling tax on stakes or gross profits. Mr Hawkswood added: "There are concerns that the new law provides tax benefits for OPAP''s land-based operation with the aim of increasing its value prior to a proposed sale of the Government''s share. "We are fully aware of the fiscal pressures on the Greek authorities at present, but they do not justify the imposition of anti-competitive tax provisions which benefit the existing monopoly gambling provider over private online operators soon to be licensed in Greece. Not only does such action not conform with EU State aid rules, but if implemented, it will have a damaging impact on the private sector and associated growth and employment opportunities, as well as curbing competition and consumer choice. As such, we feel compelled to take this action and challenge the Greek authority''s favourable tax treatment of the part state-owned gambling operator OPAP.” In lodging this complaint, the RGA wishes to stress that its position is not that online and offline gambling services should necessarily be taxed in the same manner, rather that any differentiation in taxation between offline and online operators should be objectively justified in consideration of the purpose and objectives of the particular tax regime in question. It should also be noted that, as a recent State aid decision by the European Commission has commented, Member States normally apply a lower duty for online gambling services. As no justification has been made for the Greek tax variation, and given the favourably treatment afforded to the state-owned monopoly operator, in clear contradiction of the tax systems employed in other jurisdictions, a State aid complaint has been launched by the RGA. Source: Remote Gambling Association (RGA)


RGA Disappointed by German Gambling Law Proposals

Monday, November 14, 2011

Still no market-based and consistent regulation for the State Treaty on Gambling in sight. RGA disappointed by German gambling law proposals. EU-wide legally secure solution only offered in Schleswig-Holstein. The Remote Gambling Association (RGA), the largest trade association for remote gambling operators in the world, has expressed its deep disappointment at the continuing absence of a properly regulated and competitive German gambling market for private remote gambling operators and consumers. This follows a statement today by the Minister Presidents of the German Lander urging the adoption of a State Treaty which does little to regulate remote gambling. In particular, questions remain about the intention of the Lander, by July 2012, to introduce a system that: limits operator licence numbers; would see the adoption of a wholly uncompetitive turnover tax regime; and an outright prohibition of casino and poker online games. This is out of line with the more measured and rational approach taken in other Member States, such as Denmark and Spain, who are soon to introduce systems that regulate nearly all forms of remote gambling and which are based on a much more viable gross profits taxation model. "There appears to be no connection between the desire to provide German citizens with a regulated market and the actual text of the State Treaty. The Minister Presidents say on one hand that they want to encourage sports betting with regulated German operators, but at the same time deny this to citizens who wish to partake of casino and poker games online,” stated Clive Hawkswood, Chief Executive of the Remote Gambling Association (RGA). "It is clear that this will have little effect in reducing the large number of German citizens gambling with operators licensed in other jurisdictions and which offer casino and poker products. Policies to restrict consumers from accessing such sites have consistently been shown to be ineffective. As such, this policy will have limited practical impact,” Mr Hawkswood commented. The current draft State Treaty calls for a limit of 20 licences and a turnover tax of 5%, a taxation basis that has failed in Member States like France, severe limits on betting amounts (for example, there is a suggested limit of 1,000 euros per month), a prohibition on casino and poker games, and a prohibition on live betting. In contrast, the German Land of Schleswig-Holstein passed its own online gambling law earlier this year, which regulates all gambling products on a gross profits basis, following the continuing difficulties with the German states reaching agreement. This law has already been approved by the EU through the normal notification process. "The European Commission has repeatedly stated that the draft State Treaty falls foul of EU law and the latest version appears to make little headway in meeting the Commission's concerns. In fact, such an approach simply makes the Schleswig-Holstein proposal more attractive and creates a fragmented, confusing and undesirable situation for German consumers,” stated Mr. Hawkswood. Source: Remote Gambling Association (RGA)


PPA Chairman Former Senator Alfonse D'Amato Testifies before the House Subcommittee on Lic

Monday, November 14, 2011

PPA Chairman Former Senator Alfonse D''Amato Testifies before the House Subcommittee on Licensing and Regulating Online Poker Former Senator Alfonse D''Amato, Chairman of the Poker Players Alliance (PPA), the leading poker grassroots advocacy group with more than one million members nationwide, today testified before the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade on the importance of licensing and regulating online poker to protect American consumers. "With so many issues before Congress, we are encouraged that ensuring player protections for online poker was raised for consideration by this committee,” said, Chairman D''Amato. "Clearly Congress is hearing the voices of the thousands of poker players across the country who have expressed their frustration at the government''s actions to restrict their personal freedom to play this great game.” In his testimony, Senator D''Amato noted that millions of Americans have been playing poker on the Internet for almost 10 years, and events like the DOJ indictments on April 15, 2011, otherwise known as "Black Friday”, have only served to fuel players'' frustration over this infringement of their rights. Since Black Friday, players have sent over 80,000 letters and emails and have engaged in countless more social network and personal contacts directly to members of Congress asking for a licensed and regulated U.S. online poker industry. Not only would this create a safe environment for consumers, it would also create a pathway for tens of thousands of U.S. jobs and tens of billions of dollars in federal and state revenue at a time when the U.S. economy needs it most. D''Amato continued, "The grassroots outreach efforts undertaken by our members has been phenomenal and is a key force in keeping this debate alive. We are now entering our seventh month since the DOJ''s actions and, if anything, our voice is only growing stronger. This truly speaks to the dedication of average Americans across the country to ensuring their personal freedoms are restored.” In addition to direct outreach to Congress, players have taken to social media outlets such as Twitter and various poker forums to voice their support of licensing and regulating online poker. Players recently asked so many poker-related questions for President Obama''s Twitter Town Hall that it became one of the most prominently raised issues, as reflected in the resulting Associated Press coverage. In addition, the White House''s "We the People” petition site had over 8,000 signatures to license and regulate online poker, far exceeding the necessary 5,000 signatures to ensure review by the Administration. In concluding his testimony, D''Amato urged that Congress stop the outsourcing of consumer protections, jobs and revenue to foreign countries and instead create a safe, regulated environment for Americans to play this time honored game of skill, while contributing to our nation''s economy. A full copy of the testimony can be found at www.theppa.org. Source: Poker Players Alliance


RGA gives exclusive support to the Totally Gaming Awards

Monday, November 14, 2011

The inaugural Totally Gaming Awards 2012 have received the exclusive support of the Remote Gambling Association. The Awards have been launched to recognise and reward innovation from across the breadth of the international gaming industry and are being presented on Monday 23rd January 2012, the evening prior to ICE Totally Gaming, at prestigious London venue 8 Northumberland Avenue. Judging of the Awards will be by a panel of influential industry thought-leaders. Brian Wright, Director of the Remote Gambling Association, confirmed: "The gaming industry, both land based and remote, deserves full credit for the innovation of product and excellence of service provided to customers on a global scale. For this reason the RGA are exclusively supporting the Totally Gaming Awards 2012 as the premier awards night to recognise and celebrate these vital accomplishments in all aspects of gaming.” Awards will be given across a variety of categories at the event, including best bingo, betting, lottery, mobile and online products of 2011; best manufacturer of the year and best marketing campaign of the year. There will also be two outstanding achievement awards which will be presented to personalities from within the gaming industry. Companies wanting to enter the Totally Gaming Awards, sponsor or reserve tables should visit www.totallygamingawards.com. Source: Remote Gambling Association (RGA)


Virtual gambling en route to legality

Thursday, July 28, 2011

With more than four million players, the German online poker market is the second largest world-wide. However, with regard to the legal framework, online poker does not even exist in this country. The players are acting in a grey zone; putting it bluntly, one could even say they are committing a crime. Up to now, the only federal state is willing to change this is Schleswig-Holstein - "the others will have to follow suit as soon as possible”, is the opinion of Wulf Hambach and Stefan Bolay. In the past, poker was rather being played in the saloon. In the meantime, however, the game has become fully acceptable in the living room for a significant part of the population. The fundamental prerequisite for the emergence and spreading of online poker was the technical development of the World Wide Web and, in particular, of internet connections. This was what allowed the user-friendly provision of games such as online poker for a broad audience. The world-wide poker boom began in 2003, when an amateur player in the USA won the world''s largest poker tournament, which had up to then been dominated by professional poker players. Following this, poker tournaments were broadcasted in similar fashion to sports events, also on German television. Nowadays, several poker shows are broadcasted on TV every week, in particular on Sport 1 and ProSieben. The television host Stefan Raab has picked up on the boom and started his show "TV Total PokerStars.de Nacht”. Interested players can qualify via free online poker tournaments for a game with Raab and other celebrities, in which the winner receives a prize of 50,000 Euro. No pertinent regulations in the draft for the new inter-state treaty on gambling A point in dispute in this context is whether or not poker is to be regarded as a game of chance at all. Most courts in Germany are of the opinion that the element of chance is dominant in poker. Foreign courts, for instance in Sweden and the Netherlands, have reached the opposite conclusion. Also, numerous scientific studies, also originating from countries other than Germany, have stated that the most popular form of poker, Texas Hold''em, is a game of skill. In Italy, for instance, poker is regulated as a game of skill. An argument in favour of this assessment is that many professional poker players earn their living with this card game. Irrespective of the legal classification as a game of chance or as a game of skill, poker has in recent years been legalised and liberalised in Italy and France. The same development is presently taking place in Denmark, Spain and the Netherlands, where in March the state secretary for public safety and justice, F. Teven, addressed his parliament in a written appeal, pointing out that "[m]odern game forms such as poker, whether via the internet or otherwise, […] [provide] the public with leisure activities” which is why the legislator should make available to the consumers "adequate and attractive gambling offers”. This is the aim also pursued by the federal state of Schleswig-Holstein. The associated gambling act has already gone through the first reading in parliament and is intended to come into effect before the end of the year. According to this, online poker providers based in the EU would have the option of applying for a licence in Schleswig-Holstein. The inter-state treaty on gambling (GlüStV) from 2008, which will expire as per 31 December 2011, does not contain any regulations for online poker. Pursuant to the present draft for a new GlüStV presented by the 15 federal states without Schleswig-Holstein ("E-15-GlüStV”), online poker will continue to not be regulated, even after 1 January 2012, and will therefore continue to be prohibited according to the view taken by these federal states. The law must be adapted to reality Not only the present legal situation, but also the law contemplated by the E-15-GlüStV, blatantly contradicts reality: It turns a blind eye to gambling offers which have long since reached a part of society. Without a regulation of online poker as intended by Schleswig-Holstein, German authorities will not be able to control the providers - even though, based on a recent study by the University of Hamburg, approximately 4.5 million German players have already become their customers. German rules on player protection cannot be implemented at all in this manner. Schleswig-Holstein on the other hand has, according to its own statements, received more than 30 declarations of intent from online gambling providers who have expressed their general willingness to apply for a licence in Schleswig-Holstein. In doing so, they would actually make themselves subject to the German player protection provisions. Without a regulation, online poker players would be forced into illegality or even crime. The E-15-GlüStV names "combatting the black market” as one of its major objectives, but completely ignores online poker. The question therefore is how to combat this huge "grey” or "black market”. It seems more than questionable that the internet blockings provided in the present draft will solve this problem - in particular against the background that such blockings were only recently rejected by a cross-party political majority in the German parliament even for the combat of child pornography, on the grounds that such blockings were held to be disproportionate and unsuitable. "New showcase state for gambling regulation" rather than "Las Vegas of the North" Another fact to be considered is that, without a regulation of online poker, Germany would lose millions in tax revenue, as providers cannot be taxed in Germany if they are not permitted to legally provide their services in the country. Schleswig-Holstein is planning a 20 per cent tax on the gross proceeds, thus being in line with the taxes in Italy, where the largest poker provider alone pays double-digit millions in tax every year. Also, some studies have reached the conclusion that the taxation of online poker would result in revenue which would at least reach the sums obtained through the taxation of online sports bets. Summing up, it can be stated that the law and politics in Germany have up to now neglected online poker, even though the population has long since accepted the game. Schleswig-Holstein is the only state working towards the necessary paradigm shift, by intending to regulate and legalise the popular and widespread game in Germany. Schleswig-Holstein will therefore by no means become a "Las Vegas of the North” as currently propagated. Rather, it would earn the title "new showcase state for gambling regulation”, which the other 15 federal states should not hesitate to copy. Source: TIME LAW NEWS 3/2011 (www.timelaw.de) Hambach & Hambach Law Firm


EGBA responds to EC Germany decision; Net Ent enters Italian casino market

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) has echoed the European Commission’s criticism of Germany’s egaming proposals. Following her detailed response to the EC opinion on Greece earlier this month, EGBA secretary general Sigrid Ligné said: “[The German proposals] effectively slam the door in the face of EU operators from other member states and will in fact extend the monopoly for offline to online games.” A statement from the association also described the proposed 16.67% turnover tax – largely responsible for bwin.party’s share price falling sharply in April – as “exorbitant.” Net Entertainment has become one of the first licensees to enter the newly-opened Italian online casino market, launching casino games with partner Gioco Digitale. The announcement comes at the same time as William Hill’s casino launch, and will be followed by a “phased launch” of the other operators with which the Swedish company has agreements in Italy, including Microgame, Intralot and Unibet. Redbet has acquired Scandinavian and Eastern European facing poker site HeyPoker. The site – part of the Ongame network – has around 37,000 registered customers, and generated a reported SEK2.7m gross profit in the first quarter of 2011. Antigua’s minister of finance and economy has welcomed Friday’s announcement from the UK Department for Culture, Media and Sport on proposals to reform the country’s online gambling laws. According to an official government release “Minister Lovell is confident that the UK Government and British Gambling Commission will continue to work with Antigua and Barbuda and other white-listed jurisdictions to maintain their confidence in our respective regulatory regimes.” District of Columbia councilman Tommy Wells has called for the repeal of the jurisdiction’s online gaming legislation, on the grounds that "it didn''t go through a public process." The district’s intrastate egaming proposals were approved in April after being included in Mayor Vince Gray’s budget, however the proposed launch of an online casino was recently put back until October. Former Probability chairman Graham Martin has been named as the new CEO of independent Scottish bookmaker Scotbet, following yesterday’s announcement of a management buyout. He is not the only industry veteran to be brought in by the company, as former Tote CEO John Heaton has been named non-executive chairman. Heaton was formerly chief executive of Interactive Gaming Holdings before resigning in June 2007. Inspired Gaming has responded to the UK government increasing the maximum legal stake on gaming machines by updating its 14,000 B3 machines across the country. The machines now feature more than 20 games with the new maximum stake of £2.


A damning indictment, disgrace, hammering: Disastrous verdict on the draft for the new Ger

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Brussels/Kiel/Munich, July 2011 - What had to happen, happened: On eleven pages, the European Commission has torn to pieces the proposal for a new inter-state treaty on gambling (GlüStV) submitted by 15 federal states (E 15) - not including Schleswig-Holstein. Brussels criticises the E 15 draft in particular because it provides for seven time-restricted national licences from 2012 onwards, which at best constitutes a conditional opening of the sports betting market. Until today, the reason for the number of seven licences has remained a well-kept secret of the conference of Minister Presidents and their gambling advisors. Furthermore, the draft provides for a non-competitive licensing duty of 16.66 per cent of the stakes, on top of the normal value added tax. 15 of 16 federal states will therefore now have to "go into detention", a development which hardly surprises the experts. "The warning signals were obvious and hard to ignore. All lights were on bright red", Munich lawyer Dr. Wulf Hambach from the law firm Hambach & Hambach Rechtsanwälte http://www.timelaw.de recalls the statements made during the last few months by industry and law experts and the sports associations. Also, the Schleswig-Holstein model, which has already been accepted by the EU, has shown the way. However, the 15 federal states knowingly hazarded a shipwreck, resorting to the arguments of combating addiction and protecting the players. Backing the wrong horse: Stalling for time is being punished The Handelsblatt http://www.handelsblatt.de, for instance, described the rejection from Brussels as an "EU hammering for the gambling plans" of the states, the newspaper Die Welt http://www.welt.de, calls the verdict a "debacle", whilst the sports magazine Kicker http://www.kicker.de rates the rebuke to be a "red card" and writes that for years German politicians have stalled for time. The result: "The EU Commission has now reached the conclusion that the restrictions imposed by the states'' draft do not give the private providers a fair chance to work profitably. If the states intend to avoid law suits, they will have to revise their draft." It seems that they will not have much time to do so. The revision is due by 18 August. Should this not be done in a convincing manner, the Federal Repulic of Germany may face infringement proceedings. Dieter Pawlik, lawyer in Karlsruhe and an industry insider, thinks that it did not have to come to this. In an article for the industry magazine ISA-Casinos http://www.isa-casinos.de, he criticises the states spending years negotiating, and writes that the decision is a disgrace: "It is more than embarrassing that the states'' gambling advisors, after more than ten years of dealing with the issue, have once more submitted a result which can only be called a disaster, due to incomprehensibly numerous unlawful regulations. A serious question has to be asked: How can ''specialists'', paid from significant amounts of taxpayers'' money, produce nothing but useless concoctions, thus inflicting one embarrassment after the other upon their government and upon Germany''s reputation." The states will now have to face reality, as the Frankfurter Rundschau http://www.fr-online.de demands. The paper refers to the deadlock after the detailed EU opinion as "a damning indictment" and as a denial of reality. "The inability of the states to accept existing realities during the regulation and liberalisation of the highly competitive gambling market is worse than the EU''s procedural tomfoolery", the newspaper writes. For the revision of the E 15 draft, this, for instance, also means that millions of online poker players may no longer be excluded and criminalised. Whilst the E 15 GlüStV defines the combat of the black market as one of its objectives, this very act pushes online poker players directly into illegality. Green party in Kiel: Schleswig-Holstein as a role model There at least are some signs of movement among the protagonists who up to now rigorously defended the E 15 draft. Monika Heinold, spokeswoman for financial politics of the parliamentary group of Bündnis 90/Die Grünen in Schleswig-Holstein has already expressed her opinion: "It is more than embarrassing that 15 state chancelleries have once more failed to submit a proposal which complies with EU law. There is no time left. Therefore, the order of the day now is: ''back to square one''.” A solution which complies with the Constitution must now be drafted, oriented along the proposal from Schleswig- Holstein. After the "lap of honour" by the Minister Presidents, it now is fair to speculate whether the 15 states will now catch up with the model student from the North, or whether in autumn Schleswig-Holstein will be the only state with a gambling act which is competitive on the international level and complies with EU law. CDU and FDP in the parliament in Kiel, whose own draft for an inter-state gambling treaty provides for a controlled opening of the market, advertising possibilities and online sales going along with a high level of player protection, also stress that the matter is urgent. "The 15 Minister Presidents have backed the completely wrong horse. Even though the EU-law framework conditions have been known for years, they tried to prevent an opening and regulation of online gambling with implausible arguments", Wolfgang Kubicki, head of the FDP parliamentary party in Kiel, comments, and Hans-Jörn Arp, vice chairman of the CDU parliamentary party, anticipates the further proceedings with a great deal of scepticism. "The failed course of action by the other 15 states may now even lead to the result that the monopoly for the organisation of lotteries in Germany will no longer exist from 01 January 2012 onwards. Our entire gambling industry is threatening to fall to pieces." Even now, there are signs that lotteries from other European countries, with their substantial jackpots, will push into the German market. The same applies to betting operators. Dr. Wulf Hambach and his colleague Maximilian Riege also doubt that the 15 states will be successful in submitting a draft which complies with EU law within the next few weeks, and in implementing such draft by the end of the year. The new inter-state treaty will therefore "probably not be passed by the state parliaments before the present regulation expires. However, this would mean that the affected states would no longer have a valid regulation of gambling from 01 January 2012 onwards", they write in Legal Tribune Online http://www.lto.de. In this case, they see Schleswig-Holstein as the winner. Here, "all operators interested in providing legal gambling offers can apply for a licence in the North of the Republic." In April, leading European betting providers such as Pokerstars already publicly expressed their intention to do so. Source: TIME LAW NEWS 3/2011 (www.timelaw.de) Hambach & Hambach Law Firm


Viable regime the key for unlocking potential in the UK remote gambling market

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The UK Government announced its intention to introduce new legislation that would call for all remote gambling operators with British customers to obtain British licences, irrespective of where those companies are based. Clive Hawkswood, the RGA''s Chief Executive commented that: ‘Now that the Government has confirmed its intentions, we intend to play a constructive part in the process to ensure that the new regulatory and tax regime will provide an environment where Government objectives can be achieved; where the industry can succeed commercially in the global online gambling market; and where the interests of consumers continue to be properly safeguarded.'' Under the Gambling Act 2005, remote gambling operators based in EEA jurisdictions and those licensed in jurisdictions on the Government''s ‘White List'', which have already been identified as having acceptable regulatory standards, are permitted to advertise in Britain. Companies with a significant interest in the British market are located in such jurisdictions and the new proposals require them to also hold a British licence in addition to the other licences under which they already operate. Hawkswood added, ‘The main players in the UK online gambling market are predominantly based offshore, but they already adhere to high regulatory standards which are comparable to those in Britain. Regulation by the Gambling Commission therefore holds no fears for our members, but a significantly higher tax burden that could lead to a reduction in value and choice for consumers certainly does. It is therefore clearly crucial that any new regulatory regime is complemented by a fair and sustainable fiscal regime. We look forward to working with DCMS, HM Treasury, and the Gambling Commission to ensure that all of these issues can be successfully addressed.'' Source: Remote Gambling Association (RGA)


Decision on German monopoly delayed until October

Friday, July 15, 2011

German’s federal prime ministers have delayed their decision on the new State Gambling Treaty until October, when they hope to have a framework agreed upon by all 16 German federal states or Länder. The prime minister of Saxony-Anhalt, Reiner Haseloff (CDU), said today following the meeting of state leaders in Berlin that: “We [the federal states] are well on our way”. The delay will allow the Länder to incorporate the decision of the EC on the compliance with EU law of their proposals, revealed in April, for a restrictive opening of the online sports betting market to private operators based on a 16.66% turnover tax. The EC is due to deliver its verdict on 18 July, eGaming Review understands. Betfair-commissioned research published today by leading German law professor Professor Bernd Grzeszick of the University of Heidelberg however asserted that the present notified draft “will fail in any assessment by the ECJ as well as in national courts”, as it does not restrict operators’ rights to offer services in the territory enshrined in Articles of 49 and 56 of the EU Treaty “in a consistent and systematic manner as required by the ECJ.” A Betfair spokesman said: “We are hopeful that the prime ministers use the remaining time available to them to agree on a legally watertight treaty that provides reputable private companies a fair market opportunity and protects German consumers against an uncontrolled black market.” The northern Land of Schleswig-Holstein is insisting on a less restrictive opening of the market to private operators. Its draft proposal to issue licences to private operators for all product verticals based on a 20% GPT received approval from the EC last month. The Betfair spokesman added: “The European Commission has already approved an agreeable solution proposed by Schleswig-Holstein and we hope to see this adopted by the other German states.” Leading gambling data business H2 Gambling Capital has also projected a regulated market in Germany would only capture 7% of total egaming activity in the territory should it proceed with the restrictive opening for sports betting proposed in April. http://www.egrmagazine.com


Government announces UK gambling reform plans

Thursday, July 14, 2011

All on and offshore operators selling services into the UK will in future have to obtain a licence from the Gambling Commission if they wish to continue offering online gaming to UK customers, John Penrose, Minister responsible for gambling policy and regulation, has announced. Penrose (pictured right with Prime Minister David Cameron) said the revamped industry would be based on the point of consumption rather than point of supply, however no detail was given on the tax system this would involve, which jurisdictions would be affected or when this would come into force. “It means anybody based anywhere in the world who wants to sell gambling services to any consumer based in the UK will, in future, have to have a Gambling Commission licence,” Penrose said. Any new licensing system, however would require a change in primary legislation with analyst James Hollins of Evolution Securities suggesting that this could “push full implementation out to 2013 or 2014”. “We think that the taxation discussion will come prior to implementation as and when the Treasury gets involved,” Hollins said, however he warned that the suggestion that offshore operators are not “bearing a fair share of the costs of regulation firmly implies, in our opinion, that taxation will become part of the new legislation.” Lighter touch for "trusted jurisdictions" Currently any gambling operator offering services in Britain must be licensed or regulated in either an EEA state or one of the states approved by DCMS on the White List that includes the Isle of Man, Alderney, Antigua, and Tasmania. The new proposals would effectively mean the end of the White List as it stands, however Penrose added that the Gambling Commission would ensure that regulatory good practice is recognised so that overseas based businesses in “trusted jurisdictions”, such as the white listed countries, would have much “lighter touch approach and, for example, will not have to duplicate regulatory work.” In between a final decision being made on licensing and taxation all white-list located entities will be entitled to a transitional licence and can continue trading as normal. Allan Bell, Isle of Man Minister for the Department of Economic Development, called the decision to treat trusted jurisdictions such as the Isle of Man with a lighter touch "encouraging". "Under the automatic transitional license Isle of Man based companies will have a streamlined point of entry and significantly reduced administrative costs when they obtain a UK license. In my recent conversation with Minister Penrose I received assurances that the UK Gambling Commission has no wish to duplicate the work that our Gambling Commission does in regulating our operators.” “The eventual timescale for these proposals to enter into force are not yet determined and before the proposals become law we will remain in close dialogue with the UK Government to ensure that the interests of our sector continue to be heard. Alongside this the Isle of Man Gambling Supervision Commission will work with its counterpart in the UK to establish how they will work effectively together under the new regime," Bell added. André Wilsenach, executive director of the Alderney Gambling Control Commission (AGCC), called the developments in the UK "good news for Alderney" saying the jurisdiction was "committed to the highest standards of regulation and enforcement, and to the greatest level of cooperation with other regulators.” In a statement the AGCC added that DCMS and the Gambling Commission had assured it that it intends to implement a "regime of jurisdictional equivalence", permitting Alderney licensees a "fast track" into UK licensing as and when that regime is implemented. "We have also been assured that the extent of regulatory activity undertaken by the UK Gambling Commission in respect of non-UK operators, including those located in the EEA, will depend on the degree to which those operators meet the standards, enforcement, experience and level of cooperation with the UK Gambling Commission," it added. "The current system for regulating remote gambling doesn’t work, John Penrose added. “Overseas operators get an unfair advantage over UK based companies, and British consumers who gamble online may have little or no protection depending on where the operator they deal with happens to be based. “We will create a level playing field, so all overseas operators will be subject to the same standards and requirements as those based in Britain, as well as being required to inform the Gambling Commission about suspicious betting patterns to help fight illegal activity and corruption in betting,” Penrose concluded. More detail needed Clive Hawkswood, chief executive of lobby group the Remote Gambling Association, said the main players in the UK online gambling market “already adhere to high regulatory standards” comparable to those in Britain adding that regulation by the Gambling Commission “holds no fears” for the group’s members. However, he warned that a significantly higher tax burden, “that could lead to a reduction in value and choice for consumers”, certainly does [hold fear]. “It is therefore crucial that any new regulatory regime is complemented by a fair and sustainable fiscal regime.” A bwin.party spokesman told eGaming Review the company was "used to regulation". "We don''t envisage any problems as and when it comes in, we''re used to being regulated." "The British consumer at the moment gets a good deal when it comes to taxation, it''s all about not making a competitive market uncompetitive," he added. Martin Cruddace, Betfair''s chief legal and regulatory affairs officer, called the DCMS announcement a "significant step forward" for the industry. He said that for many years Betfair operated at a "considerable competitive disadvantage" to its offshore competitors before being one of the last to transfer away from a UK licence earlier this year. "Our revised licensing structure provides the company with the freedom to locate key technical equipment in more efficient locations in order to improve service to customers and compete on a level basis in the UK market. Both of these should be possible with a UK licence and we therefore welcome this first step to a sustainable UK regulatory regime," Cruddace added. source: http://www.egrmagazine.com


EC approves Schleswig-Holstein law

Friday, May 20, 2011

The European Commission has ruled Schleswig-Holstein’s draft gambling law as compliant with EU law, giving Germany’s northernmost state the green light to pass a bill this summer and the licensing process to begin as early as this autumn.Following the statutory three-month standstill period set aside for review of the draft law, the EC only raised one point of relevance to egaming for the Land’s lawmakers to address ahead of its final passage into law, namely the stipulation that only major banks acting on behalf of operators would be required to give guarantees, and not smaller institutions. The bill will now return to the Schleswig-Holstein parliament for a second reading and a final vote, which could take place by the end of next month ahead of the summer recess, or when lawmakers return in September. In an official statement the ruling conservative-liberal coalition in Schleswig-Holstein said that following its approval the EC could scupper the federal draft State Treaty submitted by the 15 other Lander last month. The market reacted unfavourably to the German proposals of a five-year “test period” for seven sports betting licences in Germany combined with a 16.66% turnover tax – approximately 23% of the group’s revenue in 2010 was from Germany. Online casino will be restricted to land-based casino operators, again for a five-year test period. Teufelberger slammed the proposals a day after they were announced saying it “is just as likely to fail as the outgoing monopoly model in Germany”. A week after the company merged and opened for trading he added the proposed tax rate of 16% on the stakes placed in sports betting would “make it impossible to offer a competitive product”. “Furthermore, excluding poker and casino products from this licensing model will continue to drive consumers into the black market. This would mean that the proposed model would fail to meet its objectives of channelling consumer demand, offering player protection and combating fraud.”


Spain - the wait is almost over

Friday, May 20, 2011

On Friday the Spanish Congress endorsed the country’s the new Gambling Law that establishes a regulatory environment through all remote and interactive channels. This effectively ends the legislative process and the new law will become effective upon its publication in the State Official Bulletin (Boletín Oficial del Estado) in the next few days. The new law will establish the regulation of gambling activities in Spain for the first time since it was decriminalised in 1977 and allow the development of online gambling with the exception of games developed by and subject to exclusivity such as those performed by the National Lottery (LAE), and Blind Charity Lottery (ONCE). The process has been fast-tracked by the need for the Spanish Government to open a privatisation process of the national public lottery (LAE) which is expected to IPO and offer 30% stock this summer. The government aims to obtain revenues in the region of €6bn. In the coming weeks after publication of the new law it is expected the decree laws will be also published. These will set out the requirements, protocols and conditions to enable operators and providers to apply for licenses and go through the approval process. These are expected to be published before the end of June. Live in-play betting and bingo have not been allowed. During the legislative process it was defined and excluded for having dangerous addictive effects. This clashes with the existing retail sports betting and land based bingo regulations established by different autonomous regions where both live betting and classic card and electronic bingo are allowed and operated legally. Live betting accounts for around 50% of the existing retail sports betting in more than 400 sports betting corners and more than 1500 sports betting terminals; while bingo is a very popular game here played in more than 400 bingo halls throughout the country. It has yet to be seen how offshore companies will comply with the new law. Operators such as Bwin, Betfair, Bet365, Unibet and a large number of online gaming operators that have been doing business in Spain for many years will have to settle and pay the relevant taxes for the five-year period prior to the new law. The taxation for online gambling, (set at 25% of GGR/GPT), will also be a hurdle to profitability in a very competitive market with the majority of large operators having already built a considerable player database (estimated to be more than 400, 000 players) after years of tax-free advertising and sponsorship. These firms will have a great advantage when they begin to operate in a newly regulated market compared to newcomers that will have to start from scratch subject to the new advertising, sponsorship and taxation rules. We will have time to analyse the projection and scope of the new legislation in depth as soon as the decree laws are published. This will give us the full picture and will allow us to have a complete view of the situation and the future business environment in Spain. www.egrmagazine.com


AAMS and ARJEL to sign agreement in June

Friday, May 20, 2011

France and Italy’s respective egaming regulators could sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) as early as June to formalise information sharing and set up working groups to discuss common issues, eGaming Review has learned. A senior member of AAMS, Italy’s online gaming regulator, who wished to remain anonymous, told eGaming Review his organisation and France’s ARJEL had been working together since June last year when France passed a law to regulate online gaming. “We started discussions as soon as it was established. We have a long history of meetings with them and a very good understanding of each other’s markets. We have been collaborating a lot since then so it is only natural that we should want to formalise this relationship. “We have been discussing this for some time and hope our director [Raffaele Ferrara] and ARJEL president [Jean-Francois Vilotte] will sign an agreement in June. It is not clear when exactly this will be signed and this could change,” he said. “We have similar business models and share several licences. We already discuss areas such as collusion, integrity, player protection and recently got together to discuss Black Friday and to debate what the right approach was.” The AAMS representative said that when signed both bodies would look to set up working groups on matters such as “integrity, player protection, and information exchange” in order to share best practice and benchmark with one another. He added the two organisations had not discussed the issue of sharing liquidity but that there was a provision in Italian law that allows both countries to pool liquidity for a small amount of monthly horse racing events sold in France by PMU and Italian licensees that offer horse racing. http://www.egrmagazine.com


Spanish Congress Approves Legislation

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Spanish congress has approved the country’s online gaming proposals, bringing a regulated Spanish market one step closer. This latest development comes just two months after the country’s cabinet approved the draft gaming legislation, which will now go before the senate, and if approved it will then move on to the European Commission before being passed into law. According to reports in Spanish newspaper El Mundo, the latest development means the market could be opened up as soon as this summer. Also, the approved legislation will see the introduction of a transitional period “so that companies can regulate their status and sponsorship activities.” Sponsorship of sports teams is one of the key talking points discussed by Willem van Oort and Pedro Lopez in their blog for eGaming Review, particularly in the light of the recent amendments put before government. All interested parties came out in support of the legislation with the exception of the opposition People’s Party, which has been vocal in its resistance to the creation of a national gaming commission. The provision put in place for Spanish football clubs to offer sports betting on their premises – something which had never previously been permitted – is equally significant. Aside from that transitional period, it is currently unclear how many of the other proposed amendments put before government have been taken on board. And it is not the first time that Spanish lawmakers have listened to outside proposals when laying down the terms for regulation. Most notably, after initially seeming to favour a turnover tax, they then opted to include a gross profits tax in the text of their egaming legislation, following pressure from the Remote Gambling Association. As the regulation of the Spanish market moves ever closer, a number of operators will be keeping a close eye on the next stage of developments. Sportingbet CEO Andy McIver has already announced that his company will be applying for a Spanish licence once the market opens up, while former BetClic Everest chairman Stéphane Courbit has suggested that the French operator could be set to make acquisitions in Spain and Germany.


Authorities return PokerStars.com and FullTiltPoker.com domains

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Leading online poker sites FullTiltPoker.com and PokerStars.com have regained control over their .com domain names after finalising separate deals with federal authorities in the United States. The pair’s .com domain names were seized along with that for AbsolutePoker.com following Friday’s indictments by the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) of eleven individuals associated with the sites on charges of bank fraud, money laundering and illegal gambling offences. FullTiltPoker.com and PokerStars.com stated that US-based players will now be able to log on and withdraw any remaining funds from their accounts while customers located outside of the United States will be able to enjoy online poker as normal. “On April 15, this office and the FBI took specific legal action against eleven individuals who allegedly engaged not merely in the operation of illegal gambling businesses but in massive wire fraud, bank fraud and money laundering despite repeated warnings and clear notice that their conduct was illegal in the United States,” read a statement from Preet Bharara, United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York. “No individual player accounts were ever frozen or restrained and each implicated poker company has at all times been free to reimburse any player''''''''s deposited funds. In fact, this office expects the companies to return the money that US players entrusted to them and we will work with the poker companies to facilitate the return of funds to players as today’s agreements with PokerStars.com and FullTiltPoker.com demonstrate.” Under the terms of the deals that FullTiltPoker.com and PokerStars.com signed with prosecutors on Wednesday, the duo agreed that they would ‘not allow for, facilitate or provide the ability for players located in the United States to engage in playing online poker for real money or any other thing of value’. The agreements also do not prohibit and ‘expressly allow’ the pair to provide and facilitate real-money online poker for players located outside of the United States. “Although players in the United States will not be permitted to engage in real-money play, the agreement expressly allows for real-money play outside of the United States,” read a statement from FullTiltPoker.com. “In addition, the agreement represents an important first step towards returning funds to US players because it allows FullTiltPoker.com to utilise its domain to facilitate the withdrawal of player funds. But, unfortunately, there remain significant practical and legal impediments to returning funds to players in the immediate future. As a result of the recent enforcement action, there exists no authorized US payment channel through which to make refunds. FullTiltPoker.com has no accounting of the millions of dollars of player funds that were seized by the government and the government has not agreed to permit any of the seized player funds to be returned to the players. “Finally, there are numerous legal and jurisdictional issues that must be considered before poker winnings can be paid out to players throughout the United States. While FullTiltPoker.com continues to believe that online poker is not illegal under Federal law or in 49 states, the indictment and civil forfeiture action filed last Friday require FullTiltPoker.com to proceed with caution in this area. “Notwithstanding these issues, FullTiltPoker.com is ready to work diligently with the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York to try and resolve these issues and to get players their money back as soon as possible.”


PPA Comments on Federal Action Against Online Poker Companies

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Former Senator Alfonse D''Amato, Chairman of the Poker Players Alliance (PPA), the leading poker grassroots advocacy group with more than one million members nationwide, issued the comment below on today''s announcement on federal action taken against online poker companies. "On behalf of the millions of poker players across the country, we are shocked at the action taken by the U.S. Department of Justice today against online poker companies and will continue to fight for Americans'' right to participate in the game they enjoy. Online poker is not a crime and should not be treated as such. We are currently gathering all of the information around today''s announcement and will offer detailed analysis when the full facts become available." Source: Poker Players Alliance


PPA Defends Millions of Americans' Right to Play Online Poker

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

John Pappas, Executive Director of the Poker Players Alliance (PPA), the leading poker grassroots advocacy group with more than one million members nationwide, issued the comment below on behalf of the millions of Americans affected by recent federal action taken against online poker companies. "Millions of Americans across the country today are outraged over the U.S. Department of Justice''s clear attack on internet poker. While the government''s focus may be on the companies who operate these games, this is plain and simple a declaration of war on poker players and poker players'' freedoms. Not only are the over 10 million online poker players left without a place to play the game they enjoy, and from which many earn their livelihood, but they also have concerns over the availability of their funds. The PPA believes that no players'' money should be jeopardized by this prosecution. "Let me be clear, online poker is not a crime and the honest poker players across the country will not stand to be restricted from one of America''s greatest pastimes. On behalf of over one million members, the PPA is working hard to protect the interests of our players and is committed to U.S. citizens'' right to play online poker." Source: Poker Players Alliance


Greece delays egaming bill amid ruling party concerns

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Greece’s draft egaming legislation has been withdrawn for further consultation, after the ruling Socialist party (PASOK) expressed concerns with the law tabled by finance minister George Papaconstantinou. A PASOK MP present at a meeting of party members told Reuters: “There were objections…that Greece would become a vast casino.” Socialist party MP Dimitris Papoutsis added: “We should not go towards full deregulation of gaming and gambling." The Greek government presented the bill aimed at raising around €700m this year from the issue of 15-55 new licences to its parliament last month. Greece’s draft legislation has already undergone several changes since being introduced in January. Last month the government voted for a 30% gross profit tax (GPT) instead of the 6% turnover levy originally proposed after briefing from lobby group the Remote Gambling Association. The Greek government also dropped plans last month for a “black period”, requiring applicant operators to cease activity in the market until licensed


Dutch government seeks to allow online gambling

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Dutch government said on Saturday it wanted to grant licenses for Internet gambling services in the Netherlands and lift restrictions that hundreds of thousands of Dutch ignore every year. The proposal, by a new coalition government that took over last October, represents a major policy overhaul for the Netherlands, which has defended an online gambling ban all the way to the European Union''s highest court. "It is a big shift (in policy), but this is a new government with a more liberal approach," said Jaap Oosterveer, a spokesman for the Dutch ministry of public safety and justice. In a letter sent to the Dutch parliament on Saturday, Fredrik Teeven, state secretary of security and justice, wrote that hundreds of thousands of Dutch defied a ban by gambling online, and so a change in the law would allow more oversight. Several European countries such as France, Italy, Austria, Britain and Sweden already regulate online gambling, and the Netherlands should also be offering licenses for online games such as poker, bingo and sports betting, Teeven wrote. A number of online gambling companies have launched legal challenges against several European countries in an effort to break into lucrative markets but have found the going tough. Ladbrokes, Britain''s biggest bookmaker, and Betfair, the world''s largest online gaming exchange, both challenged Dutch gambling policy unsuccessfully last year at the European Union Court of Justice. In his letter, Teeven wrote that consumers should have an appropriate and attractive range of gambling options but that it was very important that there are safeguards against risks such as gambling addiction and fraud. The licensing system for lotteries in the Netherlands should become more transparent, while competition in the gaming industry, which is dominated by state monopoly casino operator Holland Casino, should also be explored, Teeven added. The Dutch government expects the auctioning of Internet gambling and lottery licenses to generate at least 10 million euros ($14.1 million) per year for its coffers starting from 2012, Teeven wrote. Source: http://www.reuters.com


FBI Shuts Down 3 Top Poker Sites - arrests made bank accounts seized

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

On Friday 15th April 2011 The FBI and the US Department of Justice issues arrest warrants in the Southern District of New York to three companies (Poker Stars, Full Tilt, and Absolute Poker) engaged in the business of betting or wagering committing a federal crime to knowingly accept in connection with the participation of another person in unlawful Internet gambling, credit, electronic fund transfers, or cheques. Penalties range from five years imprisonment and up to USD 250,000 fine. Poker Stars quickly guaranteed players deposits and it was business as usual outside the US. Wynn Resorts immediately terminated their joint venture agreement with Poker Stars. Quoted in the Kansas City Star The Kansas City Star Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval said the allegations made by federal prosecutors against the three companies were of "grave concern." But he added that he remained committed to the possibility that federal legislation will eventually permit Internet gambling in a way that matches the same rigorous standards that apply to traditional gaming institutions. Following the Unlawful Internet Government Enforcement Act( UIGEA) we saw a significant weakening of the stock exchange quoted companies as they grappled with a negotiated settlement with the Justice Department in New York and having to target a completely new market in Europe and elsewhere. The irony is that the US federal government has been planning to introduce poker legislation and various states such as Nevada, California, New Jersey and Florida have been planning to jump the gun with intrastate legislation. Events of the last few days in the USA justify Party Gaming''s stance on settling with the US and they are likely to be the main beneficiary assuming they will eventually win a license in the USA. The arrests in the USA are a game changer - no question. We are moving toward a global high tax high regulatory regime. Some countries will be slow to join but as markets close down competition in countries such as Italy, France, Germany operators will target those that remain giving rise to complaints from land based operators who will see market share fall. As government tax revenues decline those countries will act and join the high tax high regulation low profitability club. The so called grey market where a lack of law prevents the closure of Internet gambling companies will disappear. The market will be black or white. It was not so long ago that e-gaming executives were sitting on CEO panels at conferences saying "We want to come on shore" and "Yes, please tax us and let us apply for licences". They could not have imagined in their wildest dreams (nightmares?) it would have been like this. Be careful what you wish for. Governments might just give it to you with both barrels. Source: Global Betting & Gaming Consultants


Greece drops egaming black period

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Greek government has dropped the proposed black period from the draft egaming bill it presented to its parliament last week, which would have required applicant operators to cease activity in the market until approved. The “black period” clause had been present in the initial draft released by the government in January, leading to fears operators would have to suspend operations until licensed, with the likes of Sportingbet, which generates 15% of NGR from Greece, particularly affected. However eGaming Review understands from local sources this was not in the bill presented to parliament on Thursday evening last week. The Greek government’s u-turn on the proposed “black period” follows a similar move on its proposed taxation system earlier this month, switching to a 30% gross profits tax from a 6% turnover levy after briefing from industry lobby group the Remote Gambling Association. While companies will still be required to incorporate in Greece in order to qualify, several of the financial requirements have been lowered, with those licensed only needing a minimum share capital of €400k (compared to €500k before), and a letter of credit for €200k (instead of €300k) in order to enter the tender process. Other changes introduced include the lowering of the participation fee (minimum bet) from €5 to between €0.10 and €2. The issuing of a player ID card also becomes compulsory. The Danish government also proposed a “black period” ahead of the regulation of its egaming market, until a complaint over tax rates to the EC compressed the possible timeframe for this to be implemented and enforced. source: http://www.egrmagazine.com


EC Green Paper launched

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The European Commission will launch a public consultation on the EU’s patchwork of egaming laws today, as it publishes its long-awaited Green Paper on online gambling services in the internal market. The information-gathering exercise follows the ECJ (now called the Court of Justice of the EU or CJEU) considering a number of cases brought by European operators including Bwin, Ladbrokes and Betfair over being denied access to Member States’ gambling markets, in breach of single market protections enshrined in Articles 49 and 56 of the EU Treaty. The Commission has also investigated the compatibility of the French and Italian licensing regimes with EU law (most recently in France), and expressed concerns over the proposals of Belgium and Romania. The EC however stopped all infringement proceedings it had launched against Member States when it began work on the Green Paper last year. Clive Hawkswood of lobby group the Remote Gambling Association recently called for the industry to accept the EU has waived single market protections for egaming and to focus instead on harmonising regulatory standards between regimes. Hawkswood said today that his organisation was looking forward to participating in the consultation, but warned this could be a lengthy process: “[I]n the meantime many Member States will be bringing forward gambling legislation at a national level. It is vitally important that the European Commission takes all reasonable steps to ensure that those new regimes are fully compliant with EU law.” Hawkswood pointed out that although the RGA agreed on the need to tackle issues such as problem gambling, fraud and money laundering, and would provide all assistance in this respect, it was “surprised the Green Paper barely raises the question about Member States’ restrictions on the freedoms of the Internal Market.” He explained: “This lack of interest is surprising considering the number of pending infringement proceedings, the constant flow of referrals to the CJEU, the formal complaints from the industry and the Commission’s role as guardian of the Treaties”, said the head of the lobby group. The RGA chief executive added that the ongoing denial of market access by EU states also served to restrict competition, innovation, consumer value and choice. “That in turn stifles the development of a sector where European-based companies are world leaders. We must avoid a situation whereby jurisdictions can hide behind the Green Paper process, and whatever work might flow from it, to implement regulations that quite clearly cannot be in compliance with the rules of the Internal Market.” source:http://www.egrmagazine.com


LN 90 of 2011/Amendments to Remote Gaming Regulations

Friday, March 18, 2011

Dear member, Please refer to the members section on the website to view the captioned legal notice which contains amendments to the Remote Gaming Regulations. best regards Management Board MRGC


Inactive Accounts Directive 2011

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Directive 1 of 2011 Inactive Accounts Directive 2011 IN exercise of the powers conferred by article 76A of the Lotteries and Other Games Act, 2001, the Lotteries and Gaming Authority is hereby issuing the following directive in order to regulate inactive accounts. Part I – Preliminary 1. The Short title of this Directive is the Inactive Accounts Directive 2011. Part II – Definitions 2. In this Directive, unless the context otherwise requires: ‘Act’ means the Lotteries and Other Games Act; ‘Authority’ means the Lotteries and Gaming Authority; ‘Directive’ means the Inactive Accounts Directive; ‘Inactive Account’ means a player’s account which has not recorded any log in and, or log out for a period exceeding twelve (12) consecutive months, without the requirement of any financial transaction; ‘Regulations’ means the Remote Gaming Regulations (S.L. 438.04). Part III – Applicability 3. This directive applies to fees which may be charged by a licensee on an inactive account. 4. This directive shall not, in any manner, prejudice and, or affect the disposition of Regulation 39 of the Regulations or any other provision of the Act and, or the Regulations. 5. Prior to the implementation of an inactive account fee system and, or procedure by a licensee, every registered player is to be notified by the licensee to a change in the licensee’s terms and conditions, as approved by the Authority. 6. At least thirty days prior to any fees being incurred by an inactive account, the registered player must be notified that an inactive account fee is to be charged to his account and should be given the option to withdraw the deposited funds in order not to incur such fees. Lotteries & Gaming Authority, Malta 7. An inactive account may only be charged if the player’s account is in credit. 8. A player, through any notification received from a licensee, is in no manner to be enticed to play. 9. Subsequent to the initiation of the charging procedure or mechanism, the player may request reimbursement of any inactive account fees paid and the licensee is to reimburse such fees in the following instances: i. when the player could not access his account due to lack of internet connectivity; ii. when the player could not access his account due to health related impediments; iii. when the player could not access his account due to sincere and genuine reasons; iv. when the player activates the account after having incurred inactive account fees, as long as such activation is done by not later than three (3) months from when the last fee was incurred or any longer period as may be stipulated by the licensee in its terms and conditions. In such a scenario the licensee is to pay a maximum of six (6) months inactive account fees or any higher amount as may be stipulated by the licensee in its terms and conditions; v. in any other situation whereby either the Authority or the licensee deems the player’s request to be justified; and, when necessary, the player is to provide adequate proof. 10. The inactive account fee shall not exceed five euro (€5), or the currency equivalent, per month.


French advisory committee for gaming and gambling; Net Entertainment; Loto-Québec

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The French advisory committee for gaming and gambling, Le Comité consultatif des jeux (CCJ), is to be placed under the control of the Ministries of interior and budget, nearly nine months after its creation under last May’s online gambling act. According to a decree passed in the government’s Journal Officiel on Saturday, the committee will be responsible for “centralising tasks, tips and advice and coordination”, while its reassignment could prompt the return of former CCJ chair François Trucy as the committee’s president. Trucy reportedly told French news agency Agence France-Presse that he would happily take the position if offered it by Budget Minister François Baroin. Revenues for Swedish casino supplier Net Entertainment rose 16.6% in the fourth quarter to SEK99.6m (£9.5m), although the company failed to build on its increase in operating profit in Q3, with a SEK1.6m drop on the same period last year. The figures contributed to a 22.7% rise in revenues for the year ended 31 December, during which time 11 new license agreements were signed, including deals with Stan James, Interwetten and Gioco Digitale. Loto-Québec has seen its third quarter sales increase by 1.2% compared to the same period last year, rising to CA$902.9m, while expenses dropped by 1.1% in the same period. The lottery sector was the main area of growth, with the Lotto Max game contributing to income rising by 5.1%, however casino (-3.5%) and video lottery (-2.5%) experienced losses. Source:http://www.egrmagazine.com


Greece to licence online betting by the end of 2011

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Greece plans to award up to 50 internet gambling licences and allow thousands of low-stake videolotto (VLT) gaming machines by the end of the year, a senior government official told Reuters this week. The government is soon expected to present a bill legalising online gambling and lifting a ban on videolotto machines, to comply with EU law and help raise cash under the terms of a 110 billion euro EU/IMF bailout "The bill is expected to be voted within the first quarter of the year," said the official, on condition of anonymity. "Our aim is to tender the licences by the end of the year." The government aims for revenues of up to 700 million euros from licences in 2011 and 625 million euros in 2012, while the official didn’t refer to the length of the licence. Regarding to the videolottos, he added that there will be a limit in the amount of bets, according to the news agency. Yogonet.com / Capital.gr / Reuters


FCA flags up concerns about former monopolies

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The government is soon expected to present a bill legalising online gambling and lifting a ban on videolotto machines, to comply with EU law and help raise cash under the terms of a 110 billion euro EU/IMF bailout "The bill is expected to be voted within the first quarter of the year," said the official, on condition of anonymity. "Our aim is to tender the licences by the end of the year." The government aims for revenues of up to 700 million euros from licences in 2011 and 625 million euros in 2012, while the official didn’t refer to the length of the licence. Regarding to the videolottos, he added that there will be a limit in the amount of bets, according to the news agency. Yogonet.com / Capital.gr / Reuters Government to announce plans on offshore bookmakers by March The government is likely to take action on offshore betting operators by the end of March, it has emerged. In the wake of revelations that the state-owned Tote is planning to offer bookmakers the opportunity to take pool bets via an offshore hub, the government is expected to unveil its plans to license offshore bookmakers within the next two months. A year ago the previous Labour government proposed that all overseas bookmakers – including the internet arms of betting giants such as William Hill and Ladbrokes that have moved offshore to avoid paying the Levy and taxes – should be licensed by the Gambling Commission. That was seen as the first stage in answering long-standing concerns within racing that the increased volume of bets placed through offshore operators was seriously damaging the sport. The issue was open to consultation until June and the coalition government now plans to make a ruling. It is yet to make a determination on the Levy. Under the licensing proposals all operators active in the British market would have to comply with the Gambling Act and be required to report suspicious betting activity to the commission and sport governing bodies. They will also have to comply with British licence requirements, including the protection of children, and demonstrate how they will contribute to the research, education and treatment of problem gambling in Britain. The gambling industry has previously said it may accept licensing proposals but would oppose any attempt to make offshore operators pay the Levy. It is believed the government will endorse the licensing proposals of the previous sports minister but doubt remains over how to enforce any subsequent attempt to force offshore operators to pay tax and the Levy on UK bets. It has been suggested that bookmakers offering bets in the UK could be forbidden from advertising here and their websites blocked if they were not licensed. The Department for Culture, Media and Sport said it would not intervene to prevent the Tote, which is currently up for sale, from offering third party bookmakers the opportunity to bet into its markets via an offshore hub. "It is a business decision and a matter for the Tote," a spokeswoman said. Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk FCA flags up concerns about former monopolies The French Competition Authority (FCA) has published an opinion today within which it flags up concerns about potential advantages afforded to former monopolies since the opening of the French regulated market. The non-binding opinion comes in response to issues raised by the European Gaming & Betting Association (EGBA) last year, and the FCA has concluded that measures must be taken “to avoid any competitive distortion between the former monopolies and the new entrants.” It took note of the fact that Pari-Mutuel Urbain (PMU) and La Francaise des Jeux (FDJ) still reap the benefits of their former monopoly status on the land-based side of operations, but suggested a separation of these operators’ physical sales points and their online betting provisions. Since the French online betting market was opened to competition in May 2010, ARJEL have issued licenses allowing 19 operators (including the former monpolies) to provide sports betting, betting on horse racing, or both. However FDJ and PMU still retain a strong presence in the world of retail sports betting, where they were the monopoly operators for sports betting and horse racing respectively. And the competition authority is also concerned that both former monopolies have gained unfair advantages by using their pre-regulation customer bases to increase their online base in the regulated era. It said: “The availability of PMU and FDJ’s offline points of sale, under preferential conditions, to develop their online activities that are subject to competition could lead to a distortion at the expense of alternative operators that don’t have such opportunity” “Legal and operational separation of activities carried out in the form of a monopoly (offline) and those areas subject to competition (online)…constitute one of the remedies usually advocated by antitrust authorities in order to avoid abusive cross subsidization. Accounting separation as imposed by article 25 of the law of 12 May 2010 does not entirely respond to the need to prevent this risk,” it added. Some questions had also been raised about whether expensive betting licenses would prevent certain new operators from entering the market, thus giving an unfair advantage to those former monopolies already in place. Indeed it has been suggested that online gaming regulator ARJEL should set guidelines to fix the terms of agreements between operators and organisers of sporting events, in an attempt to prevent the fluidity of fees dissuading new operators from entering the market. Despite all this, however, the competition authority was willing to admit that “Real competition seems to be emerging between sports betting operators and online.” While not binding, the agreement is expected to help any operators who wish to challenge the existing legal framework, and ARJEL are certainly expected to take note of it in any considerations of whether the status quo should remain. BetClic Everest, one of the operators licensed by ARJEL for sports betting and betting on horse racing, has already welcomed the decision and called for the introduction of legislation to improve competition within the French market. Source: http://www.egrmagazine.com


Government to announce plans on offshore bookmakers by March

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The government is likely to take action on offshore betting operators by the end of March, it has emerged. In the wake of revelations that the state-owned Tote is planning to offer bookmakers the opportunity to take pool bets via an offshore hub, the government is expected to unveil its plans to license offshore bookmakers within the next two months. A year ago the previous Labour government proposed that all overseas bookmakers – including the internet arms of betting giants such as William Hill and Ladbrokes that have moved offshore to avoid paying the Levy and taxes – should be licensed by the Gambling Commission. That was seen as the first stage in answering long-standing concerns within racing that the increased volume of bets placed through offshore operators was seriously damaging the sport. The issue was open to consultation until June and the coalition government now plans to make a ruling. It is yet to make a determination on the Levy. Under the licensing proposals all operators active in the British market would have to comply with the Gambling Act and be required to report suspicious betting activity to the commission and sport governing bodies. They will also have to comply with British licence requirements, including the protection of children, and demonstrate how they will contribute to the research, education and treatment of problem gambling in Britain. The gambling industry has previously said it may accept licensing proposals but would oppose any attempt to make offshore operators pay the Levy. It is believed the government will endorse the licensing proposals of the previous sports minister but doubt remains over how to enforce any subsequent attempt to force offshore operators to pay tax and the Levy on UK bets. It has been suggested that bookmakers offering bets in the UK could be forbidden from advertising here and their websites blocked if they were not licensed. The Department for Culture, Media and Sport said it would not intervene to prevent the Tote, which is currently up for sale, from offering third party bookmakers the opportunity to bet into its markets via an offshore hub. "It is a business decision and a matter for the Tote," a spokeswoman said. Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk


Washington upholds online gambling ban

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Seattle lawyer Lee Rousso had challenged the state’s prohibition on the grounds that it put an impermissible burden on interstate and international commerce while favouring land-based venues over their online rivals. ’s prohibition on the grounds that it put an impermissible burden on interstate and international commerce while favouring land-based venues over their online rivals. “The question before this Court is not whether Internet gambling including playing poker online should be illegal,” wrote Justice Richard Sanders in the Court’s nine to nil opinion. s nine to nil opinion. “That determination is reserved to the Legislature and the Legislature addressed the issue by enacting and amending RCW 9.46.240, which criminalises the knowing transmission and reception of gambling information by various means including use of the Internet. “Since sending and receiving gambling information is illegal, Internet gambling in the state of Washington is effectively banned. It is not the role of the judiciary to second-guess the wisdom of the Legislature, which enacted this ban. The Court has no authority to conduct its own balancing of the pros and cons stemming from banning, regulating or openly permitting Internet gambling.” The Court also provided a detailed analysis of what it referred to as the ‘dormant commerce clause’ while discussing other Federal legislation including the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 and the Wire Act of 1961 and asserting that Congress had not delegated the regulation of interstate Internet gambling. Justice Sanders also found that the state’s ban did not discriminate ‘against interstate commerce in favour of in-state economic interests’ while asserting that the law ‘equally prohibits Internet gambling regardless of whether the person or entity hosting the game is located in Washington, another state or another country’. Washington is effectively banned. It is not the role of the judiciary to second-guess the wisdom of the Legislature, which enacted this ban. The Court has no authority to conduct its own balancing of the pros and cons stemming from banning, regulating or openly permitting Internet gambling.” The Court also provided a detailed analysis of what it referred to as the ‘dormant commerce clause’ while discussing other Federal legislation including the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 and the Wire Act of 1961 and asserting that Congress had not delegated the regulation of interstate Internet gambling. Justice Sanders also found that the state’s ban did not discriminate ‘against interstate commerce in favour of in-state economic interests’ while asserting that the law ‘equally prohibits Internet gambling regardless of whether the person or entity hosting the game is located in Washington, another state or another country’. ‘dormant commerce clause’ while discussing other Federal legislation including the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 and the Wire Act of 1961 and asserting that Congress had not delegated the regulation of interstate Internet gambling. Justice Sanders also found that the state’s ban did not discriminate ‘against interstate commerce in favour of in-state economic interests’ while asserting that the law ‘equally prohibits Internet gambling regardless of whether the person or entity hosting the game is located in Washington, another state or another country’. ’s ban did not discriminate ‘against interstate commerce in favour of in-state economic interests’ while asserting that the law ‘equally prohibits Internet gambling regardless of whether the person or entity hosting the game is located in Washington, another state or another country’. “We are extremely disappointed in the Washington State Supreme Court's ruling given the clear evidence that the State Legislature never sought to regulate Internet poker as it does in-state bricks-and-mortar card rooms and Internet horseracing but instead simply banned Internet poker and, even worse, criminalised the players,” read a statement from the Poker Players Alliance, of which Rousso is a member. “This law is still a mistake and we will continue to fight to have it overturned.” Yogonet.com / Online Casino News


The European Casino Association (ECA) welcomes EU Member States' conclusions regarding the

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The European Casino Association (ECA) welcomes EU Member States'' conclusions regarding the way forward on online gambling Brussels, 14 December 2010 - EU Ministers last Friday unanimously agreed that strict national regulation and supervision through national authorities coupled with an enhanced cooperation and best practice sharing between Member States is required to effectively tackle the global challenges posed by online gambling. The set of conclusions published by the Council on 10 December 2010 on the framework conditions for gambling and betting sets an important political signal, as for the first time ever all EU Member States have clearly stated that regulatory solutions for online gambling must be found. The ECA congratulates the Belgian Presidency for deploying particular efforts in brokering this agreement and welcomes EU Members States'' acknowledgement that online gambling is a global issue requiring strict regulation and supervision by the public authorities of each EU Member State in their respective territories. Ron Goudsmit, Chairman of the ECA, notes: "We absolutely endorse the view that stronger cooperation between countries is required both to improve the regulatory environment and to establish effective law enforcement”, adding that "the Council conclusions are indeed a milestone for future discussions at EU level”. The ECA hopes that the European Commission, whose Green Paper on Online Gambling will launch a broad public consultation and is now expected for March 2011, recognises this unanimous decision by the Council. Source: European Casino Association (ECA)


The bill that legalizes bingos in Brazil was set out again in the Chamber of Legislators

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Leaders of parties that are allied to the government in the Chamber of Representatives mobilised again for the approval of the bill that legalizes bingos, video bingos and VLT in Brazil. Representatives are in favor of a modification in the proposal in order to guarantee that the greatest part of the taxes collected with gaming activities is allocated to health and also to finance the real increment of the minimum salaty. The measure will replace the creation of a new tax. After nine months, the issue entered in the guideline of the meeting of leaders of the Chamber last week. “The idea was very well accepted because it is more interesting than a new CPMF. It will be put to vote, without having doubts of what is going on”, said representative Fernando Giacobo (PR), who participated in the meeting. His collegue, representative Sandro Mabel, strengthen the suggestion in a meeting of the political council of the government. PDT leader and president of the Trade Union Force, Paulo Pereira da Silva, affirmed that the resources would help even to guarantee the increment of the minimum salary. The last stage of processing of the project was made in September 2009, when the text was approved by 40 votes in the 7th Commission of Constitution and Justice of the Chamber. Votes against the project were leaded by Antonio Carlos Biscaia and José Eduardo Cardozo. Pro-government legislators were in favor of the proposal. The project plans the creation of a fund for health, culture, sport and public security. Resources will come from the payment of royalties. According to estimations of the Trade Union Force, sponsor of the gaming legislation, more than us$ 3.774.680.000 would be collected in taxes per year. The entity also plans the creation of up to 250,000 employments. The writer of the subject, Régis de Oliveira (PSC-SP), said he does not see any problem in a possible change. “The project is good, but may be modified. Everything that is negotiated and reaches a consensus can be performed”, he explained. De Oliveira denies that legalization will stimulate the vice in gaming and money laundering. Among other rules, the project plans a series of restrictions to the new bingo houses, for example, the creation of centers at a distance no less than 500 meters from schools and churches. Bingo legislation had its ups and downs during Lula government. When he assumed as president, in 2003, he ellaborated a decree for the creation of an inter-ministerial work group to formulate a definite proposal on the matter. Everything changed when Waldomiro Diniz, who was councellor of the former Chief of Casa Civil, José Dirceu, appeared in a tape in which he supposedly extorted a businessman of the sector, Carlos Augusto Ramos, known as Carlinhos Cachoeira. After the episode, Lula edited a provisional measure that banned the operation of any type of game of chance. The president even compared the practice to child prostitution. The last bingo houses were closed in 2006. In 2007, after the reelection of Lula as president, the issue was processed again without any resistance by the official base in the Chamber. Yogonet.com / Gazeta do Povo / BNL Magocom (Brazil)


EC welcomes French decision to open its online gambling market

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The European Commission has ensured that French citizens will have access to a wider choice of duly authorised on-line gambling services as a result of the changes made to French laws on online gambling. The Commission has therefore closed existing proceedings against France. It had previously taken the view that French restrictions on on-line gambling activities affected foreign operators and were disproportionate to and not consistent with the objective sought, thereby breaching EU rules on the freedom to provide services. Before France changed its law, French residents who wished to engage into on-line gambling and betting activities could only choose between two incumbent operators that offered a limited selection of such services, Pari Mutuel Urbain (PMU), for horse racing, and the Français de Jeux, for all other forms of sports betting. Both enjoyed exclusive rights to organise certain forms of sports betting on-line (and in shops). As a result, no other European gambling operator could offer its online services in France. The new on-line gambling law1 has introduced a national licensing system that allows for the cross border provision of sports bettingon a non-discriminatory basis while providing strict controls on gaming. While EU law permits Member States to restrict the offering of gambling services in the public interest, for example to prevent gambling addiction or organised crime, such restrictions must be coherent with the Member State''s own behaviour in offering the very same services via certain operators. Furthermore, any measures taken by Member States to restrict the market have to be necessary, proportionate and non-discriminatory. Acting upon complaints, the Commission had taken the view that France''s restrictions on foreign service providers at that time were disproportionate. As a result, the Commission started infringement proceedings against France in 2006 (IP/06/1362) and issued a reasoned opinion in 2007 (IP/07/909). With its new law, France has opened its online gambling market to operators from other EU member states on the basis of a non-discriminatory licensing process. This has allowed a broader choice of online gambling services for sports betting. The new law has also legalised online poker in France. These services are authorised and supervised by a new specific on-line gambling regulator (ARJEL). European gambling operators now have the possibility to apply for French licences and offer their services in France. Nevertheless, gambling continues to be safeguarded in the general interest in order to protect vulnerable consumers and to prevent gambling addiction as well as criminal activities. The Commission acted upon receiving a complaint in 2005. After investigating the case, it formally requested France in June 2007 to amend its law following consideration of its reply to a letter of formal notice sent in October 2006. France notified the Commission in 2009 it had amended its laws. The Commission welcomes the fact that the new French law now allows for the cross border provision of services, with clear rules for the authorisation and the granting of licences to domestic and European operators and has decided to close the case. It closed a similar investigation against Italy in May 2010 after the Italian authorities engaged in an open and constructive dialogue with the Commission and amended its on-line gambling legislation (IP/10/504). There are still a number of pending investigations as the Commission has asked Denmark, Finland, Greece, Hungary, the Netherlands and Sweden to amend their laws. Yogonet.com


Malta Remote Gaming Council Survey on Staff Status and Salaries - 2010

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Dear members, The MRGC Board is pleased to inform you that the Malta Remote Gaming Council Survey on Staff Status and Salaries - 2010 has been completed. The results can be viewed in our members area underneath the members resources section of the website www.mrgc.org.mt. For those who would like to obtain a printed copy please refer to the attached pricing list. Best regards, Management Board MRGC


Foreseeable changes in gaming policies in Germany

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

The highest leaders of the German states of Saxony, Hesse, Bavaria and Hamburgo have manifestad their aim to join Schleswig-Holstein in their idea to modify the monopolistic policy existing in Germany on sportsbooks. Although it seems no changes will be made in the lottery sector, the leaders of these states communicated in their recent annual meeting that they would support online gaming, quitting the Inter-state Gaming Treaty that expires at the ending of 2011. The support to those changes in gaming policies by other states can be seen based on the decisión that must be taken by the highest Administrative German Court next November 24th, which will determine how the latest rulings of the Court of Justice of the EU must be applied in Germany. The Court of Justice of the European Union ruled that, in the German case, the gaming monopoly as well as in other European countries, would be justified if the consumers protection was extended to all games, someting that does not happen right now. Yogonet.com / Web del Juego (Spain)


New Jersey to vote on intrastate egaming by end of 2010

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

New Jersey Senators will meet this week to review a bill proposing the establishment of an intrastate egaming system and other gambling-related measures aimed at propping up the Garden State’s ailing race tracks and casinos, with a vote on the proposals expected by the end of the year. The bill introduced in January by Senator Raymond Lesniak proposes the state’s Atlantic casinos offer online versions of their land-based games to state residents, including poker, blackjack and baccarat, with the state collecting 20% of annual gross gaming revenues. Speaking ahead of the bill’s review by a state Senate Committee, lobbyist William Pascrell III told local paper The Record that the state was experiencing a "perfect storm" – a recession coupled with struggling horse racing and Atlantic City casino industries – that could be addressed by legalising online gaming. "New Jersey could become a global mecca for Internet gaming," Pascrell told the paper, adding that any regulatory and licensing issues could be addressed within six to nine months of the bill becoming law. A study commissioned by lobby group the Interactive Media Entertainment and Gaming Association (iMEGA) which worked with Lesniak on drafting the bill, has estimated that a New Jersey intrastate gambling system could raise up to us$ 250 million in gross gaming revenue and us$ 55 million in taxes on an annual basis. Lesniak, iMEGA and Senate President Stephen Sweeney are currently contesting a motion by the US Department of Justice (DoJ) to dismiss their attempt to overturn the 1991 federal law prohibiting state-regulated sports betting. Lesniak and iMEGA have become locked in a war of words with US casino giant Harrah’s over the online casino and sports betting proposals, accusing it of obstructing attempts to hold a referendum on legalising sports betting at the state’s racetracks and casinos, a charge it denies, and also to efforts to pass a bill permitting Atlantic City’s casinos to offer their games online. Harrah’s is supportive of a nationwide regulatory solution for egaming. Yogonet.com / EGR Magazine


EU court rules against German state gambling monopoly

Monday, September 13, 2010

The state monopoly on gambling in Germany is ''unjustifiable'' and must be broken up at once, the European Union''s top court ruled this week. The court said the gambling laws were being applied inconsistently. The German government''s monopoly on most forms of gambling must be ended immediately, according to the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg. The court ruled that "the German rules do not limit games of chance in a consistent and systematic manner." It said that the state the monopoly is not justifiable. Under German law, only the country''s 16 federal states or companies run by them can offer gambling services. The state therefore has an effective monopoly on gambling and lotteries. The law also bans most Web-based betting, and forbids advertising such services. The German State Treaty on Gambling came into force in 2008 to curb a growing trend in gambling addiction. Critics say it simply ensured that the state received a substantial chunk of the revenue from gambling. Internet betting agencies based abroad. A number of private betting companies have challenged the treaty, saying it is inconsistent, because the federal states do not hold a monopoly on certain forms of gambling like slot machines and casinos. Numerous Internet users place bets illegally with private online companies registered abroad, which tend to offer better odds. Yogonet.com / DW-World


UK gaming rules under review

Monday, September 13, 2010

A new consultation has been launched in the UK that could open the door to new games, rules and side bets in the country''''s casinos. The Gambling Commission has launched a consultation into proposals that would see the discontinuation of the Rules of Casino Games in Great Britain document, which currently stipulates the games that can be offered by casinos. The Rules of Casino Games was first issued in August 2007 and revised and updated the following July as a means of implementing licence condition 9 of the Licence Conditions and Codes of Practice. This particular clause states that licensees must only offer or permit to be played casinos games that appear on the Commission''''s list of approved games, with the exception of those offered on an approved trial basis. The document is perceived by many to be too prescriptive in the rules and odds that apply to games, so any variations or additional games or side bets require the document to be formally changed. No other gaming sector in the UK requires its games to be set out in such detail by the Commission, or to seek permission for minor changes to their rules. Additionally, the 2005 Gambling Act contains provisions that allow the Commission to approve new games or rule changes on a trial basis, without requiring a lengthy legislative process that could ultimately be rendered redundant if the game or changes are unsuccessful and are subsequently dropped. Consequently, the rules document is therefore almost constantly out of date. The Commission has therefore proposed to remove the rules document and replace it with a clause in licence condition 9 that states: "Licensees must not offer or permit to be played casino games that appear on any list of games prohibited by the Commission." In this way, the Commission would retain the ability to list any games that it did not want to be played and permit those that do not appear on the list but still meet the criteria set out in the Gambling Act. "This deregulatory proposal is in line with the Commission''''s general approach and would place the onus on the individual operator to ensure that the licensing objectives are upheld," the consultation document states. The Commission is inviting responses to the proposals until November 24, after which it will make its decision on whether to implement the new changes. Yogonet.com / Intergame Online


ECJ rules against Austrian gaming laws

Monday, September 13, 2010

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has ruled that Austrian legislation requiring gaming operators to locate their seat in the country is not compliant with EU law. In a judgement published yesterday, the ECJ found that “the obligation on persons holding concessions to operate gaming establishments to have their seat in Austria constitutes a restriction on freedom of establishment.” Casinos Austria AG is currently the only company with permission from the Austrian Government to organise and operate gaming in the country, with 12 concessions granted and renewed without a public tender process. The court said in its ruling that the absence of a competitive process allowing operators from other EU countries to apply for a casino license in the country “is contrary to the principle of equal treatment” and “constitutes indirect discrimination on grounds of nationality prohibited by EU law.” Further, held the court, while restriction of operators located in other countries could be justified on the basis of “preventing those activities from being carried out for criminal or fraudulent purposes...the categorical exclusion of operators whose seat is in another Member State is disproportionate, as it goes beyond what is necessary to combat crime.” The court was ruling on the questions raised by German national Ernst Engelmann on the compatibility of Austrian legislation on games of chance with freedom of establishment and freedom to provide services. This followed Engelmann appealing the decision of the Linz regional court of unlawfully organising games of chance after he operated two gaming establishments in Austria without having applied for a concession. The ECJ judgement went on to say that in the absence of any transparency around the tender procedure, Austria’s grant of a concession to a local operator “constitutes difference in treatment to the detriment of operators located in other Member States, who have no real possibility of manifesting their interest in obtaining the concession in question.” The court stated in its ruling that Austria had the choice of “various less restrictive measures” to monitor the activities and accounts of egaming operators located in other Member States. Sigrid Ligné, secretary general of the European Gaming and Betting Association said: “Today’s ruling against the Austrian gambling laws confirms clearly that Member States cannot require EU licensed online operators to be physically present on their territory. In the Digital age there are obviously other and more efficient means available to monitor the activities of the operators.” source: http://www.egrmagazine.com


Demise of gambling monopoly likely to boost sports advertising

Monday, September 13, 2010

German sports clubs could be the big winners from the EU overturning Berlin''s gambling monopoly. Private betting companies would be able to take advantage of a huge market, if they were allowed in. This weeks'' ruling by the European Court of Justice overturning Germany''s gambling monopoly centered on whether Berlin''s consumer-protection argument was valid or not. But the consequences from the decision by the Luxembourg court is expected to be felt first and foremost in a seemingly unrelated field - advertising revenues. "We''re talking about a huge market here, for this includes both advertising revenue from foreign companies and also online betting operators in Germany," Michael Schmid of media consultancy Goldmedia told Deutsche Welle. Private sports betting companies would most likely go to sports clubs for advertising, putting their logo on the players'' jerseys and potentially creating massive revenue opportunities for sports clubs. Millions in advertizing revenues lost According to German soccer legend Franz Beckenbauer, clubs miss out on as much as 400 million euros ($519 million) annually from advertising from bookmakers. Foreign clubs that play in Germany must go to the trouble of removing any gambling ads from their kit for the matches. Germany''s official line is that the gambling monopoly is there to prevent people from becoming addicted. It says controlling gambling operations, allows the state to prevent addiction from getting out of hand. But consumers can easily bypass the state monopoly; government statistics show over two million people in Germany gamble online using foreign Web sites based abroad. "If the regulations on the sports betting market were lifted, all the operations that are currently under the table would be moved into the legal realm," Schmid said. "Germany thinks that by imposing this monopoly it is preventing people from gambling. This isn''t the case. The people are simply betting elsewhere. If these people were betting in Germany, then the government would have a real chance to establish policies that could curb addiction," he added. EU points out inconsistency of monopoly The European Court of Justice identified a different aspect of Germany''s gambling monopoly that it saw as being flawed: its inconsistency. "On the one hand, you''ve got sports betting and lotteries that are completely state-controlled," said Torsten Stein, a professor of the European law at Saarland University. "On the other hand, however, the small casinos are given free rein. People can play slot machines on just about every street corner, and these casinos can advertise all they want." Studies have repeatedly shown that slot machines are the most addictive form of gambling, Stein said, adding that "it''s no wonder that the courts have questioned the effectiveness of this monopoly." Representatives of Germany''s 16 federal states are to meet next week to find a solution to the country''s gambling dilemma. There are two possible outcomes: Either all types of gambling will be state-regulated and advertising prohibited, or Germany''s sports-betting market will finally be able to operate unrestricted source: http://www.dw-world.de


Belgian gambling laws face opposition

Monday, September 13, 2010

The debate over Belgium''s new Gambling Act, which only permits licensed land-based operators to offer online gaming services, could come to a head in the European Court of Justice. The new law, which is scheduled to come into effect in January 2011, restricts online gambling services to certain licensed operators in Belgium, who, it seems, are in favour of being able to move into online wagering. According to Koen Platteau, partner at business law firm Olswang, the government’s justification for taking such a step is protecting public interests, such as consumer protection and tackling fraud and crime. “The Belgian approach towards online gambling is certainly not unique within the EU,” Platteau told InterGaming. “It is important to stress that there will be no monopoly on online gambling in Belgium. However, only a limited number of operators will be entitled to offer the service.” The Belgian parliament’s actions have been criticised by various organisations and online operators active throughout the EU and a complaint has been filed with the European Commission. “They claim that the offline requirement creates barriers to the EU internal market,” Platteau explained. “In particular, they invoke the principles of free movement of services and freedom of establishment. Interestingly, the European Commission voiced similar concerns when it reviewed a draft of the Gambling Act containing the offline requirement. However, the Belgian Parliament adopted the offline requirement regardless of the Commission’s comments.” There are, however, legal precedents in Belgium’s favour specifically relating to online gaming. In particular, the Court of Justice’s judgment in the Liga Portuguesa de Futebol/Bwin case, in which it upheld that the Portuguese monopoly that extended to internet gambling complied with EU law. In that instance, the court referred to the absence of harmonisation at the EU level and the risks of fraud and crime, which it perceived to be higher in the case of online gambling. In subsequent rulings, the court has confirmed that under current EU law, there is no obligation for member states to mutually recognised gambling licences issued by national authorities. Platteau continued: “The offline requirement has been adopted and is due to come into force in January 2011. On the basis of the Court of Justice’s case law referred to above, the offline requirement is more likely than not to pass the Court’s scrutiny.” This, of course, may bring the debate between the Belgian government and those opposed to the new law to a head. “Their case is now in the hands of the European Commission,” Platteau added. “There are no strict time limits. If the Commission sticks to its earlier position and Belgium does not move, it will have to bring the matter before the court. It is not yet clear at this stage what the Commission’s intentions are.” Yogonet.com / Intergame Online


Greece unveils draft egaming regulation

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Greek government has unveiled draft legislation to regulate the country''s egaming market. The new law would require providers of sports betting, internet poker or online casinos in Greece to set up a server in the country and to open a Greece-based domain name. The new regulation would require Greek ISPs to block access to foreign-based gambling websites and financial institutions to not process any suspected transactions to these sites. Meanwhile, Greek lottery company Intralot reported revenues of 540.9 million euros for the first half of 2010, 11% higher compared to the same period last year, benefiting from an improved trading performance during the second quarter. Yogonet.com / eGaming Review


Spain: Catalonia regulates Internet gambling

Friday, September 10, 2010

Online gambling generated 350 million euros a year in Spain. But, as an unregulated activity, it doesn’t pay taxes. The Government of Catalonia is tired of waiting for the promised regulation of this activity by the central government and gave the resolution to pass its own bill, which sets minimum requirements to operate by Internet. Companies operating in Catalonia should have a system that identifies the player and allows knowing, for example, how long they''ve played. The Gaming and Betting Act prepared by the Department of Interior replaced one from 1984 which "had become obsolete," according to Director of Games and Entertainment Mercè Claramunt. The new text will force companies to have a headquarters in Catalonia, although its effects are limited: it only affects those operators which customers are mainly in Catalonia and gamblers who live in this community. Interior knows the limitations: Internet has no borders and this autonomous regulation is not ideal. For the first time, the law regulates advertising and requires companies to notify in advance the gambling ads campaigns. The rules prohibit inciting to the compulsive game, promoting it by gifts or free drinks and target advertising to minors. The bill includes the creation of the Gaming Commission of Catalonia, a consultative body representing all operators. The law also will force the Government to develop a comprehensive responsible gaming policy to reduce the effects of pathological gambling. Yogonet.com / Spanish Gaming News


Online gaming ruling ‘major step ahead for Malta’

Friday, September 10, 2010

The European Court of Justice ruling against gaming monopolies in Germany has been welcomed by e-gaming consultants who described it as a “breakthrough” judgment which was a “major step forward for Malta”. They insisted the decision would open up the doors for firms operating from Malta to penetrate the lucrative German market. George Mangion, a director of an i-gaming consultancy company, said the ECJ ruling, unless appealed by Germany, was a great step forward, especially for those German companies that set up shop in Malta but had to be careful not to service German clients. He said the development presented a number of opportunities for such clients. In the same vein, Maria Chetcuti Cauchi, i-gaming and ICT partner at Chetcuti Cauchi Advocates, said the judgment was good news for the industry. The ECJ landmark ruling handed down on Wednesday dealt a blow to EU member states that have been restricting their gaming and lotteries’ market to keep out the online gaming industry. It ruled that the German state monopoly on most forms of gambling was “unjustifiable” and had to end at once. The court asked how monopolies could be justified on grounds of public safety when they were investing heavily in advertising their games. This judgment confirms the points raised by the Maltese industry throughout the years. Although access to the internal market was guaranteed by EU rules, gambling was not covered and each state was given the free hand to regulate. Mr Mangion said opening up the German market was exactly the opposite of what was happening in South Africa which, like Germany, imposed a ban on online gaming. Even Australia imposed such a ban. “The German companies which operate from Malta had to be very careful not to advertise in Germany. This decision will obviously push these German companies and help them grow in Malta and continue contributing to the economy,” he said. Mr Mangion said Malta had to continue improving its regulation regime to fend off competition from other countries such as Italy, France, Spain and Denmark. Dr Chetcuti Cauchi said the ruling upheld the stance that Malta had always sustained and promoted: that of free movement of services, including i-gaming services, among member states. She referred to recent ECJ rulings saying that the principle of freedom of services could be limited, with the public interest coming into play. She explained that, unfortunately, this had led to a situation where the term “public interest” was “used and misused”. While the latest ruling did not do away with the public interest exception, it was still a breakthrough decision as it set the parameters within which member states may limit i-gaming services on the basis of the public interest. “In the present case, in fact, the court ruled that the public interest factor was not being applied fairly and in a consistent and systematic manner by the German federal states,” she said. Dr Chetcuti Cauchi added that Maltese online gaming operators were highly regulated and strict measures were in place to ensure the services were provided at a high level of transparency, integrity and traceability for the benefit and interest of players and society alike. When contacted, Malta Lotteries and Gaming Authority CEO Reuben Portanier said it was still early to make a detailed interpretation of the ruling as the regulator still had to go through the full judgment. However, he said the ruling confirmed the authority’s stance since 2004 that the best way to protect consumers was by regulating online gaming “effectively and with responsibility”. source: www.timesofmalta.com


ECJ challenges legality of German gambling monopoly

Friday, September 10, 2010

In a landmark ruling this morning, the EU’s highest court has ruled that restrictions on gambling by Germany’s state monopolies could not be justified under European law. In a response to cases brought by egaming operators including Happybet Sportwetten, Digibet and Carmen Media Group in several of Germany''s administrative courts, the European Court of Justice ruled that although monopolistic restrictions on the freedom of private internet operators to offer sports bets under EU law could be justified “by imperative reasons” in the public interest, “the German rules do not limit games of chance in a consistent and systematic manner.” The German State Gambling Treaty, prohibiting all organisation or intermediation of public games of the chance on the internet, came into force on 1 January 2008. This is due to expire on 1 January 2012. The Treaty came under challenge last year from one of the 16 Lander locked in legal disputes with private operators. Schleswig-Holstein, whose rejection of Gibraltar-licensed Carmen Media Group''s application to offer bets in Germany via the internet was also considered in this ruling, last November demanded the treaty’s cancellation so it could introduce an intrastate licensing system. The ECJ said in its ruling today that the “preventive objective” of the German monopoly system such as preventing gambling addiction “ceases to be justifiable”, given that the monopolies were carrying out intensive advertising campaigns with a view to maximising profits, and by tolerating policies designed to encourage participation in games of chance which do not fall within the public monopoly such as casino games and automated games. Thus, ruled the court: “[T]he public monopoly of the organisation of sporting bets and lotteries in Germany does not pursue the objective of combating the dangers of gambling in a consistent and systematic manner." However, in a statement which will be received rather less positively by private egaming operators, the court re-stated Member States'' right to establish public monopolies, on the basis that “[S]uch a monopoly is likely to overcome the risks connected with the gaming industry more effectively than a system under which private operators are authorised to organise bets subject to compliance with the relevant legislation.” Further, the ECJ''s opinion also re-stated its earlier position that EU law does not oblige Members States to recognise licences issued in other Member States. The various cases will now return to the regional Administrative Courts, with the monopolies now expected to move to limit advertising and promotion of their offerings and gambling products more widely. source: http://www.egrmagazine.com


Approved New Gaming Regulation in the Canaries

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Spanish Official State Gazette (BOE) has published the Betting and Gaming Act of the Autonomous Community of the Canary Islands, which estates a new regulatory framework for Internet gambling and casino . The new law was passed unanimously by the Parliament of the Canary Islands on 7 July. This rule repeals the 1999 Act. The new law provides that the opening of bingo in the Canary Islands is obliged to be subject to a public tender as well as casinos, horse tracks, dog tracks and pelota courts. The license will be obtained for 10 years. In addition, the legislation concerns the extension of the regulatory framework for television and Internet betting, which make up more than 15% of the gaming revenue in the Canaries and represents more than 1.6 billion euros. This is more than 3.5% of regional GDP. The rules also refers to the betting expansion to external premises, because previous regulation only referred to the horse and greyhound racing and the pelota courts game and the new regulation covers all kinds of events previously predetermined. source: http://spanishgamingnews.com


Online gambling banned in South Africa

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Fine of R10 million or ten years in jail for online casinos, individuals, including internet service providers and banks who process payments for online gamblers and individuals who gamble online According to the Gauteng Gambling Board which has fought a long-running battle with online casinos, says its now illegal to gamble using digital products inside South Africa. That’s after a North Gauteng High Court judgement on the jurisdiction of online gambling transactions in the country which was handed down on August 20th by Judge NB Tuchten. The effect of this decision means both Internet operators who offer online gambling to South African residents for gain, and a player or punter who takes part in online betting, are guilty of breaking the law. Furthermore, the ruling also makes Internet service providers accountable for the services and targets band and financial institutions that process the winners’ payments and betting transactions. According to Gauteng Gambling Board head of legal services, Lucky Lukhwareni, online casinos are now up for prosecution. “That’s why we approached the media to alert them of the judgement which makes online casino operations illegal, and if they continue we will have them arrested and fight for conviction.” Those entities that advertise or facilitate the advertisement of online gambling including radio and television stations, print media, and outdoor advertising agencies will also face the law. The Gauteng Gambling Board says it will pursue any person or organisation which contravene the gambling legislation. Persons who are prosecuted and found guilty of breach or contravention of the gambling legislation could receive a fine of R10 million or ten years in jail or both. No-one was available to respond to the ruling at Piggs’ Peak Online and an auto-reply machine repeatedly asked for the user’s ID number. source: http://www.businessday.co.za


Netherlands: A report considers poker gaming regulation

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Dutch Ministry of Justice has released the report of the Commission Jansen, an advisory group assembled on 11 September 2009, to reflect on and investigate the scope for reforming gambling laws in the Netherlands, with a view to considering the regulation of online gambling. The final report, published today by the Ministry of Justice, calls for a licensing system for poker operators, but excludes sports betting, bingo and casino style games. The Remote Gambling Association, representing the world’s largest remote gambling operators, considers the proposal from the Commission Jansen as an inadequate first step in light of changes occurring throughout the rest of Europe. “This is clearly a missed opportunity to follow the same path as other jurisdictions, such as Denmark, which do not seek to discriminate against different forms of gambling and recognise that all are capable of being properly regulated. Given that de Lotto offers sport betting, this appears to appease the lottery operator by limiting the opening to poker only, ” said Clive Hawkswood, Chief Executive of the RGA. The RGA believes that there is only one logical and realistic way to address the burgeoning remote gambling market and that is through proper regulation for poker, sports betting and casino games. Clive Hawkswood added that “it would be churlish of us not to welcome the poker opening, if it is granted in a viable way, but it appears as an opportunity missed for other segments. If consumer protection rather than market protectionism is the real policy objective then this recommendation should embrace other areas.” source: Yogonet.com / RGA


Hungarian gambling association calls for regulations against international games

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The national gambling association is calling for effective regulations to prevent the operation of international casinos and poker games in Hungary, daily Nepszava reported this week. Despite the fact that under current regulations it is not illegal to advertise such services in Hungary, it is not allowed to use them and many thousands try their luck on international gambling sites. The gambling association says that more effective regulations against such services in Hungary would channel some us$ 66.8 million back into the budget. International gambling companies, many of which are registered in tax havens, pay their taxes in their "home country", so Hungarian gamblers' money contributes to that country's budget, the association says. The association insists that gambling must remain a state monopoly, as already declared by the European Union. In Italy all international gambling sites are blocked and only Italian sites can be used, head of the association Istvan Schreiber said. At the same time, an estimated 300-600,000 Hungarians are regular users of international gambling services, he added. The association proposes that only Hungarian companies with local management, operating for at least ten years in the field, should be allowed to operate gambling services, the paper said. source: Yogonet.com / Realdeal.hu


French online gambling regulator ARJEL sues seven ISPs

Friday, August 13, 2010

Less than two months after new French gambling laws went into effect, the national online gaming regulator Autorité de Régulation des Jeux En Ligne (ARJEL) is resorting to drastic measures to ensure that only approved sites are doing business in France: namely, a lawsuit against seven Internet Service Providers based in France for allowing access to unlicensed operators. ARJEL is requesting that the ISPs block access to sites such as Betfred and Stan James while ISPs are arguing that since companies such as these are located in European Union countries and/or countries with which the EU has economic and legal agreements on gambling, their right to operate within France is secure. Aside from basic and thorny issues of individual rights, ISP blocking of websites can cause many additional technical problems on a wide scale, including the slowing down of entire networks; plus, any big would-be provider of Internet casinos or online poker sites in France is provided with an easy out just by changing the domain name or registering a new domain name altogether. ARJEL is threatening to levy fines on the ISPs of 100 euros per day per website that is allowed to be opened in France, regardless of whether or not the website is specifically marketed to French customers. Yogonet.com / Gaming Zion


Cyprus Shows Its Hand On Online Gaming Ban

Friday, August 13, 2010

After mixed messages in recent weeks, the Cypriot government has confirmed that it intends to formally legalise and regulate internet betting but ban online casino gambling. The government approved the outline of a draft bill last week to regulate and tax internet sports betting, but prohibit online poker, slot machines and other casino games. It will submit the legislation to the European Commission for consultation before the end of September, sources say. There had been some confusion about the government’s position on internet gambling, when Justice Minister Loukas Louka told a local newspaper that he was in favour of legalising online casinos. But last Tuesday’s decision confirmed the government’s opposition to online casino gambling, and Finance Minister Charilaos Stavrakis, whose department initiated the review of Cyprus’ gambling legislation, described it as “a very important bill” designed to “resolve a problem that has developed into a social scourge in recent years”. “These [online] casinos have been created on every corner of Cyprus and anyone, young or old can basically gamble in the same way it is done in casinos abroad,” Stavrakis said in the Cyprus Mail. A Ministry of Finance source told GamblingCompliance that both ISP blocking and criminal sanctions for illegal operators "are on the table" for the draft legislation before it is sent to the European Commission. Other measures currently being considered include requesting banks to uncover accounts linked to illegal online gaming activity, according to the source. Under the bill, though, online sports betting operators will be licensed by the state, and a gaming board will be set up to regulate their activity. The government currently taxes gross gaming revenue on sports betting, but the Ministry of Finance source told GamblingCompliance that the new legislation would not take this approach when taxing online betting. Stavrakis told reporters that around 10 percent of “the total betting conducted in Cyprus will come to the state as tax revenue.” “In addition, since online gambling will be banned, it is very logical for one to assume that a large part of the bets… will go to internet or other betting,” Stavrakis said. The Ministry of Finance asked the Parliamentary committee to draft new gaming legislation earlier this year, after estimates that turnover from remote gambling had already reached €2.5bn in Cyprus and could top more than €5bn by 2012. Cyprus now joins other EU jurisdictions looking to boost their fiscal revenues by setting up their own regulatory structures for online gambling. The drafting of the new legislation was held up last month after complaints from problem gambling groups that they had not been properly consulted. At present there is no specific legislation on internet gaming, which has enabled EU-licensed remote operators to offer their services in Cyprus and has led to internet casino parlours springing up around the country. The new legislation on online gambling follows the distinction already in place for land-based gambling, which treats casinos and slot machines differently to bingo, lottery and sports betting. “It would be an oxymoron to legally allow the operation of dozens of online casinos in Cyprus in the shape we have today and not allow the creation of a real casino,” Stavrakis said in the Cyprus Mail. “With this decision the government remains consistent with its initial position that it is against the creation of [land-based] casinos and online casinos for social and other reasons.” The draft bill passed with unanimous support in the government, according to Stavrakis. It will be put before the Council of Ministers and Parliament later this year if the European Commission does not raise objections over the legislation. Source: http://www.gamblingcompliance.com


Europe unleashes online gambling to fill coffers

Friday, August 13, 2010

Across Europe, cash-strapped governments looking for ways to reduce yawning budget gaps are embracing online gambling, a source of revenue they once viewed with wary skepticism. While US opposition to Internet betting has centered on concerns about gambling addiction, European politicians previously objected for a different reason: liberalizing the practice, they feared, would undermine state-sponsored lottery monopolies and gambling operators. But more and more gamblers are spurning land-based casinos anyway, and logging on to Internet poker and sports betting sites — many of them based in places that are out of reach of tax collectors. As public finances worsen, governments are trying to bring this once-shadowy business into the mainstream of Europe’s digital economy, where it can be regulated and taxed. “What’s happened is a realization that you can’t uninvent the Internet,” said David Trunkfield, a consultant at PricewaterhouseCoopers. “People are gaming online. You either try to regulate and tax it, or people are going to go to the offshore operators, where you don’t get any revenue.” France, which only four years ago jailed the top executives of an Austrian Internet gambling company, Bwin, when they visited France, last month permitted private companies like Bwin to start taking bets online, in competition with publicly owned gambling sites. Denmark approved legislation in June authorizing a similar shift. Greece plans within weeks to introduce a bill legalizing online gambling, which is currently banned. Others considering liberalization include Switzerland, Spain and Germany. They are all following Britain, which in 2005 became the first big country in Europe to confer respectability on the business, and Italy, which has been phasing in legalized Internet betting over the past three years. Europe has grown into the biggest online gambling market in the world, accounting for an estimated us$ 12.5 billion of the industry’s us$ 29.3 billion total revenue this year, according to H2 Gambling Capital, a consulting firm. If all of that activity were taxed, it could potentially raise billions every year, though the exact amount is hard to predict, given uncertainty over the tax rates that might be applied. The growth online contrasts with the state of the old-fashioned casino business in many European countries. In France, for instance, land-based casinos have suffered double-digit revenue declines in recent years. In Britain, plans for a giant, Las Vegas-style casino in Manchester were scrapped two years ago, and even the country’s ubiquitous betting shops have started to suffer. In other big gambling markets like the United States and China, online betting is also widely practiced, though officially banned. A US law banning financial transactions related to online gambling, which was passed in 2006, took full effect this year. Rather than highlighting the potential revenue-generating benefits, European lawmakers generally cite two main arguments for bringing the activity aboveboard. One is a desire to protect problem gamblers by regulating the sites; the other is pressure from the European Union, which claims that some members have been using restrictions on online sites as a way to protect state-controlled casino operators from competition. Less often mentioned is money. But analysts say it is no coincidence that the new push for legalization has come at a time when governments are under growing strain. France, which started allowing private companies to offer online sports betting just in time for the World Cup soccer tournament, said that in the first month gamblers opened more than 1.2 million new accounts, betting €83 million, or $108 million, on licensed sites. That was nearly twice as much as the amount legally wagered online in the comparable period a year earlier, when state-run betting sites were the only option. As of this month, those numbers should rise further, analysts say, with the start of legal online poker, which was previously banned. The French government has not said how much tax revenue it has generated from the change in the law. But Italy says it collected about 150 million euros in taxes last year as a result of a partial liberalization of the business. Now Italy, which previously legalized Internet sports betting and low-stakes online poker, is moving to open up further; it recently authorized higher-stakes poker, as well as Internet casinos offering games like roulette. Analysts say tax receipts could surge. The Italian government has been more forthcoming than others about its intention to raise revenue from online gambling, linking the latest legislation to a fund-raising package for the Abruzzo region, which was struck by an earthquake last year. Liberalizing the rules on online gambling has not always created a boon for governments. Britain, for example, has found tax revenue elusive, despite being an early mover. The problem is that while Britain has legalized Internet betting, it has not required operators to obtain a license and pay taxes in Britain. Many sites, therefore, have continued to serve British gamblers from tax havens like Gibraltar. Two big British betting companies, Ladbrokes and William Hill, moved their online operations to Gibraltar last year to take advantage of lower taxes. Companies that want to operate legally in France, by contrast, must secure a local license, abide by French regulations and agree to pay French taxes. Unlicensed sites continue to operate in France, too, though regulators have already sent out warnings to a number of operators, threatening prosecution if they do not shut down. Some companies that operated in France’s gray market before the online betting legislation came into force have chosen to withdraw rather than meet what they say are onerous restrictions. One of these sites is Betfair, a London-based sports betting “exchange,” which lets people to bet on odds set by other gamblers, rather than a bookmaker. Tim Phillips, director of European public affairs at Betfair, said the French legislation was unfair to betting exchanges because it taxed every single transaction conducted by a gambler, rather than the overall winnings. Users of betting exchanges sometimes employ multiple, offsetting bets on a single game; some of these they might win, while losing others, but under the French system they are taxed on all of them. “Our view is that the French are trying to turn back the clock and say, ‘We don’t want you to bet like this,’ in order to protect the offline business,” which is still state-controlled, Mr. Phillips said. For online gambling companies that have lobbied European governments to open up to Internet betting, “it looks like a case of be careful what you wish for,” he added. Betfair is among a number of companies that are lobbying the European Commission to set common standards for online gambling across the Union. That way, operators based in one E.U. country could serve gamblers in the other 26 member states, as companies in other lines of business are often already able to do. Michel Barnier, the E.U. internal market commissioner, plans to publish proposals on the issue by the end of the year, according to a spokeswoman, Carmel Dunne. So far, the commission has let member states go their own ways, pursuing enforcement actions against individual countries that are deemed to have violated E.U. rules against protectionism. Phillips at Betfair said greater harmonization could bolster the European economy by helping Europe-based online gambling operators maintain the competitive edge they now enjoy over betting companies in other regions, where the practice remains illegal. “The gambling business is one of Europe’s real success stories online,” Phillips said. “This is a business in which Europe leads the world.” Yogonet.com / Spanish Gaming News


We've done nothing wrong say operators ahead of ARJEL block

Friday, August 13, 2010

Stan James will not appeal against French regulator Autorité de Régulation des Jeux en Ligne’s (ARJEL) order to internet service providers to block access to unlicensed online gambling sites, its chief executive has told EGRMagazine.com. Denis Kelly said that in the coming weeks the Gibraltar-based retail and egaming business would close all its accounts with French addresses. “We plan to deploy geo-targeting software aimed at blocking our services to French citizens. We will not be actively recruiting French customers in the foreseeable future,” he added. Last Friday the Tribunal de Grande Instance (TGI), or superior court that handles complex cases and has a criminal section called le tribunal correctionnel (the Criminal Court) in Paris, ordered French ISPs to block access to unlicensed online gaming sites following an application by French regulator ARJEL against Stan James. Denis said Stan James had been contacted by ARJEL on 15 July regarding the French market and reacted by “instigating the blocking of French accounts”. “Due to our IT systems this actually takes 15 days to fully implement this. We had an insignificant amount of French accounts so for us this is a non-issue,” he added. On 15 July a list of 16 operators that ARJEL lists as unlicensed in France was leaked to iGaming France.com. This included Globet, Interwetten, Jaxx, Betfred, 888sport, 10bet, 32Red, Betsson, Stan James, Bet24, Centrebet, Betcris, Boylesports, PaddyPower, Stryyke, and Jetbull. ARJEL has so far handed out 27 licences to various operators. The last round of approved licences came on 27 July this year with Full Tilt and PKR among nine new beneficiaries. Pontus Lindwall, CEO of Betsson told EGRMagazine.com that Betsson Malta had “stopped its offering to players in France before 15 July this year. “Betsson Malta is a licensed gaming operator that has chosen not to apply for a license in France for the time being, due to commercial reasons,” he said. “If the French authorities should IP-block Betsson.com even if Betsson Malta is not in breach with French law, I would find that very odd. I am convinced that French citizens, like the rest of the world, are not very impressed by censorship. “I believe the French authorities should focus on making its legislation competitive in order to secure long-term success for its new licensing regime,” he added. Lee Richardson, CEO of Boylesports, another company on ARJEL’s list of unlicensed operators, added: “We are fully aware of the situation regarding licensing in France and are not taking play from French players. We are reviewing the licensing situation across a range of different territories on an ongoing basis, France would be just one of a selection of territories we have under review.” John Haddock, managing director of Betfred told EGRMagazine.com that it had been “proactive” and informed ARJEL that it had blocked “all traffic” from France to the Betfred website more than a week ago. “No one from the French regulators has been in touch to inform us directly that we are not allowed to take any bets from their jurisdiction,” he added. Source: www.egrmagazine.com


N.J. split widens over gambling

Friday, August 13, 2010

The fracture between North and South Jersey lawmakers over the future of gambling deepened a bit more Tuesday with a letter sent to Donald J. Trump. The letter was written by state Sen. Raymond Lesniak, the Union County Democrat leading the charge to overturn the federal ban on sports betting in all but four states and pushing for Internet gambling in Atlantic City. "Dear Mr. Trump," Lesniak wrote. "We need a casino owner with vision and gravitas to propose a casino in the Meadowlands with a commitment to invest a percentage of the profits in Atlantic City to transform it into a tourist and entertainment destination. "The Atlantic City casinos oppose this plan because it would take away business at their New York and Pennsylvania locations," the letter says. "Enclosed is the Lesniak Plan and a business model for Project Meadowlands. Go for it!" Lesniak''s exhortation is in direct opposition to a key piece of Gov. Christie''s plan to overhaul Atlantic City: keeping gaming exclusively at the Shore. Trump, who owns three casinos in Atlantic City, had not yet received the letter, mailed Tuesday, but he was adamant about not allowing new competition at the Meadowlands. "If gambling doesn''t stay in Atlantic City, it won''t really have much of a chance," Trump said in a phone interview from his New York office. "If they put something in the Meadowlands, it would really have a huge impact on Atlantic City. "There has been such a huge investment from Wall Street and international investors that if you took the focus off Atlantic City, there will be no more investment in Atlantic City," he said. When asked about the possibility of a Trump casino at the Meadowlands, the real estate mogul didn''t flinch. "I wouldn''t say that something like that would not be successful, but it will be the end of Atlantic City," Trump said. "New Jersey has to focus on Atlantic City. Maybe someday down the road and the economy starts roaring back again, maybe. But certainly not now." In a speech at Boardwalk Hall on July 21, Christie made it clear where he stood: He unveiled the recommendations of a seven-member panel that call for no slot machines at the Meadowlands and ending a $30 million annual subsidy to the state''s horse-racing industry. "This is not the appropriate time to introduce gaming in any other part of the state," the governor said. "We have to make a commitment to repair what''s broken here in Atlantic City." Under Christie''s plan, a state entity would take over Atlantic City''s tourism and casino district; all gambling revenue collected by the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority, some of which had been going for statewide projects, would stay in Atlantic City; and casino regulations would be streamlined, resulting in cost savings funneled toward marketing and boosting convention business by at least 30 percent a year over the next five years. On Friday, at a legislative gaming summit at the Atlantic City Convention Center, the North/South divide was palpable. South Jersey lawmakers and casino operators pushed for gambling exclusivity to remain intact, while North Jersey lawmakers urged just the opposite. Lesniak said something stronger and bolder was needed to reverse Atlantic City''s fading fortunes. His plan calls for investing upwards of $1 billion into Atlantic City from the proceeds from slot machines that would be installed at the Meadowlands. The East Rutherford sports complex, home to New Meadowlands Stadium, where the New York Giants and Jets will play, has some issues of its own. The state is considering shutting down or selling the horse-racing track there, which Saturday hosted the prestigious Hambletonian stakes race for trotters. "I believe thinking can evolve on it, and if [the governor] really looked at what''s best for New Jersey and Atlantic City, and not what''s best for the casinos'' interests outside of New Jersey, he''d support my proposal," Lesniak said Tuesday. The 1976 New Jersey Casino Control Act bars gambling in any other part of the state. Changing the law to allow casinos outside Atlantic City would require a constitutional amendment. This summer has been anything but good to Atlantic City. Figures released Tuesday by the Casino Control Commission confirmed the obvious: that table games in Pennsylvania would prove to be another direct hit to the Shore''s weakening revenues. The 11 gambling halls reported $363.9 million in revenue in July, down 5 percent from a year ago. In what is typically one of the more profitable months, all but two casinos, Atlantic City Hilton and Trump Taj Mahal, reported revenue declines. A lot of Atlantic City''s woes have been attributed to the casinos across the state line, which added table games in July. Last week''s figures from the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board showed gross slots revenues for July were $211.1 million, a record 17.8 percent increase over a year ago. Revenues from table games won''t be available until after Aug. 20. On Monday, the Pennsylvania House Gaming Oversight Committee held a hearing on how table games were going. "So far, table games have been very good for Pennsylvania," said chairman Rep. Dante Santoni (D., Berks). "They have put more than 4,000 people to work." By comparison, 8,800 casino jobs have been pared in Atlantic City since 2007 because of declining revenues. http://www.philly.com


Canadian gambling laws become stricter

Friday, August 13, 2010

On August 4th, several changes were made to Canadian gambling laws that allow for greater punishment of offenders. The list of “serious offences” in the country’s Criminal Code has been amended, with a total of 11 additions being made. Many of these additions are gambling related. The following gambling related actions are now considered “serious offences” in Canada: Keeping a common gaming or betting house, betting, pool-selling and book-making, committing offences in relation to lotteries and games of chance and cheating while playing a game or in holding the stakes for a game or in betting Other non-gambling offences include actions related to prostitution, and to the trafficking, import, or export of drugs. The new classification of these offences makes them indictable and allows them to be punished by five years or more in prison. The primary reason for these changes is to give law enforcement officials more power to fight organized crime. “Organized crime groups often rely upon the proceeds of these acts to equip themselves to commit violent acts and to fund large-scale criminal operations that threaten public safety,” said Justice Minister Rob Nicholson. These laws are designed to target illegal gambling operations, and to allow authorities to indict and incarcerate those who run them. The average gambler, whether they are playing at a casino or at an online gambling site in Canada, will not be affected by the changes. In fact, the Canadian province of British Columbia recently launched the first fully licensed Canadian internet casino. The site has struggled with technical problems in recent weeks, and unfortunately this frightened a lot of potential players away, but the operators remain confident that the site will prosper. Meanwhile, dozens of other gambling sites are available to players in Canada – these are hosted overseas, and are also not affected by the new changes to the Criminal Code. Yogonet.com / Gaming Zion


US and Ontario may be next into online gambling market

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Ontario and the US could be the next in line to regulate Internet gambling. This past week, US Representative Barney Frank held a hearing on his Internet gambling legislation proposal in the House Finance Committee. The next step for that bill will be the markup stage, which is scheduled to take place on Tuesday. British Columbia has become the pioneers of online gambling for North America. Although their initial attempt to offer online gambling has not gone smooth, B.C. has still offered the blueprint to millions of dollars in additional revenue. With B.C. already launching their online casino, and Loto-Quebec launching an online poker site later this year, Ontario will be playing catch up when they enter the online gambling ring. The Atlantic Lottery Corp. may not be far behind, and experts believe that it is only a matter of time before Ontario joins in. "If I were a wagering person, which I don''t do," said Jeff Derevensky, Director of the International Centre for Youth Gambling Problems and High Risk Behaviors, "I would certainly bet that they (Ontario) would, in fact, go into Internet gambling." Canadian lawmakers have caught on to a fact that other countries have known for years in Europe and around the world, Internet gambling can be a major source of revenue stream from gamblers to the government. Regulated online gambling also offers bettors the opportunity to gamble in a safe environment. Up until B.C. launched their casino site, North Americans had been placing their online wagers with sites either regulated in other jurisdictions, or not regulated at all. This is one of the prime reasons that Rep. Frank and other US lawmakers are now looking to overturn the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006. The law places the burden of controlling Internet gambling on financial institutions, but does not give the banks the necessary details to carry out that responsibility. Financial institutions have argued against the UIGEA since its inception. The B.C. Lottery has opened the door just a crack, but it now appears that the US and other Canadian provinces are preparing to bust the online gambling door down in North America. Yogonet.com / Casino Gambling Web


Irish gaming legislation change on hold

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Irish government''s plan to draft new gaming legislation has been put back to later in the year. The industry currently operates by making use of a loophole in the current legislation, the 1956 Gaming and Lotteries Act, allowing members'' clubs to operate certain casino games. While a number of casinos are currently operating in Ireland as private members'' clubs, those looking to jump into the business in a big way are still waiting for the government to show its hand over legislation on the market. And casinos have become big business. And while the plan is that the government is planning to impose some type of legislative framework on casinos, operators are still not sure if they''re being bluffed, or if this is the real thing. Earlier this month, the Justice Minister Brian Lenihan said that a report drafted almost a year ago by a committee, headed by barrister Michael McGrath, would likely be presented before a Dail committee for consideration "in the near future". The industry had hoped that the Minister for Justice would be discussing proposals for new regulations and the possibility of larger casinos; however, given the economic climate, this is no longer a key concern for the government. "Unfortunately regulation of gaming in Ireland has slipped down the list of priorities for the moment," David Hickson, director of the Gaming and Leisure Association of Ireland, told InterGaming. "We had been hoping for an announcement setting out government policy for regulating the sector before the summer recess, but it has now been pushed back to the autumn." Yogonet.com / Intergame Online / The Independent


Abandoned betting accounts may be used to fund UK sports

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The UK government is to compile a report into how much money is left abandoned in betting accounts, with a view to the proceeds being used to improve public sports facilities and clubs. The review stems from a pledge in the Coalition Agreement to look into the best use of abandoned betting accounts. Work will be done to determine how a betting account can be classed as ''dormant'', and to clarify legal ramifications surrounding the potential uses of the money. John Penrose, UK minister for Tourism and Heritage, who has asked MP Don Foster to compile the report, said. “Every day thousands of people bet on the outcome of sporting events. Therefore it seems a natural fit that funds from abandoned betting accounts should be used to benefit grassroots sports projects.” Foster added: “I’ll be meeting representatives from all parts of the industry to gain views and suggestions on how this can work. It would be great to see some local sporting facilities and initiatives getting some extra funding in these difficult financial times.” Foster will present his findings, along with a possible proposal of new legislation, by the end of the year, with a formal consultation process to follow. The Department for Culture, Media and Sport, the UK government department tasked with oversight for the UK gambling industry, said customers would still be able to reclaim their money at any time, as long as they were able to prove their right to it. source: www.egrmagazine.com


Full Tilt and PKR among nine new French licences

Thursday, July 29, 2010

French egaming regulator ARJEL last night approved a further nine licences including Full Tilt Poker, PKR and Ladbrokes’ Canal Win sports betting joint venture. Land-based casino giant Barrière also received a licence to offer its newly developed poker product into the French market. Barrière will provide poker for former lottery and sports betting monopoly Francaise des Jeux, currently scheduled for launch in the autumn. New poker licence holders Ad Astra and Full Fun will join 888 and Microgaming’s recently announced joint poker network targeting the French market. French pari-mutuel horse race betting site Zeturf, which has signed a letter of intent with as-yet-unlicensed Unibet to pool horse racing liquidity, also received its licence yesterday. Earlier this month Ladbrokes announced Nick D’Ancona and Canal+’s François Deplanck would head up the JV between the bookmaker and France’s largest premium pay TV provider, announced in April. Yesterday’s wave of licence approvals takes the total number to date issued by the French regulator to 27. The nine licences issued yesterday were as follows: CanalWin* (canalwin.fr, canal-win.fr): sports betting Jeux 365 (paris365.fr, jeux365.fr, poker365.fr, football365.fr): sports betting Geny Infos (genbet.fr); pari-mutuel horse betting Zeturf France (zeturf.fr): pari-mutuel horse betting FullFun (pokerxtrem.fr): poker LB Poker (barrierepoker.fr): poker AD Astra (pokersubito.fr): poker PKR France SAS (pkr.fr): poker Rekop (fulltiltpoker.fr): poker * joint venture between Canal+ and Ladbrokes source: www.egrmagazine.com


Football World Cup showed that online betting is bigger than ever

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Online sportsbetting operators say they took advantage of the recent World Cup to target thousands of new customers by increasing their gaming offering and investing in social media. Customer acquisition and retention in online gambling is an important theme at this year’s ninth annual European iGaming Congress and Expo, to be held October 19-21 in Copenhagen. European iGaming Congress and Expo (EiG) will take place next 19-21 October, at Bella Center, Copenhagen, where industry leaders such as Betboo and Betsson will share their experience and success stories. Pontus Lindwall, CEO of the online gambling firm Betsson, says “it has been a very good World Cup even though we noticed that the turnover took a slight hit after all the upsets in the beginning of the tournament where some customers lost some money.” The CEO of Betboo, Almir Ribeiro, says the early exit of favourites teams such as Italy and France “was fantastic from an operator’s point of view”. While Betsson saw the most action on the England vs USA game, for the Brazilian company Betboo, Brazil vs Ivory Cost was one of the most popular games early in the tournament. Betsson’s Pontus Lindwall says a marked difference between the 2006 and 2010 tournament is the increase in live betting. “Now more people wait until they see how the teams are playing before placing their bets and customers who already have bets pre-match take new bets during the match. The number of different betting opportunities in the live betting has also increased a lot and during the 1/8-final between Paraguay and Japan we offered live betting on the penalty shootout where our customers could bet on if the player would score or not. This means that the customers knew in seconds if they won their bet or not!” Betboo’s sports betting arm is less than three years old so it cannot compare its World Cup return to anything. However, says Betboo CEO Almir Ribeiro, “our cash-back promotions in 100% of the games is a unique concept in the industry and we offer a combo bonus which means for three or more bets we are increasing the payout between 3 - 10%”. The World Cup provided a golden opportunity to target new customers with Betboo investing in social networks and on-line media buying as part of its marketing campaign. Says Almir Ribeiro: “I expect to retain 100% of the new clients as we don''t have so many competitors here and we invest a lot in CRM and Customer Service”. Betsson’s marketing strategy included running pre-event competitions and focusing on post-event customer retention. “We decided to focus on customer acquisition the months before the World Cup with World Cup competitions,” says CEO Pontus Lindwall, “rather than during the tournament since we knew that it would be cheaper for us to get new customers at that point rather than spend a lot of money during the tournament which would have cost more money. We have also had a strong focus on the development of our live betting the last 6 months in order to keep the customers that we have got. A customer should not have any reason to leave Betsson!” Pontus Lindwall and Almir Ribeiro will both be speaking at EiG in October when more than 1500 iGaming experts will gather again to discuss regulatory, marketing and technological challenges in what is the world’s largest iGaming event. Programme highlights and leading speakers include: · USA regulatory keynote: When and how iGaming will be regulated in the USA – the California perspective - Senator Roderick Wright, State of California · Impact of localised regulation in Europe, with particular focus on France and Italy · EiG MegaDebate 1: iGaming vision for 2015 – discussing emerging B2B and B2G business models and future growth areas in iGaming · EiG MegaDebate 2: Future market leaders: Exploiting technology developments, innovative business models, niche products and new audiences · Start-Up LaunchPad: Discover ‘The Next Big Thing’ in iGaming · Partnership and competition: Media and entertainment brands, lotteries, social/casual games meet gambling · Innovation in products, CRM, online marketing, branding For more information, www.eigexpo.com. Yogonet.com


MRGC Staff & Salary Survey 2010

Monday, July 26, 2010

Dear Members, The Malta Remote Gaming Council (MRGC) is once again for the third consecutive year conducting a Salary Survey of the operators licensed in Malta to carry out business in the remote gaming industry. The MRGC have been asked by The Research Bureau (TRB) who are a reputable market research company, to forward the attached survey to its members. We kindly ask all Service Providers as well to distribute this survey amoungst its clients. If you know any other locally licensed operator who might be interested in participating in the survey please feel free to forward this email. For those members/non members who wish to remain anonomous, the MRGC urges them to still send in their results leaving out company details. We urge all members to fill in the attached survey since feedback is imperative to the remote gaming industry. We would like to remind everyone that the Salary figures quoted should be indicated in Gross Value. Once again we would like to stress that NO INFORMATION WILL BE PASSED ON TO THE MRGC OR ANY OF ITS BOARD MEMBERS. Please send feedback only to THE RESEARCH BUREAU. We will inform you when the results are available. Regards, MRGC Management Board Dear Chief Executive Officer / Human Resources Director, The Research Bureau is inviting you to participate in an ongoing research project to study staff status and salaries in Malta’s remote gaming industry. This project has been commissioned by, and is being funded by the Malta Remote Gaming Council for the third consecutive year. Attached is a questionnaire that poses a variety of questions about staff status and salaries within your company. Please have a look at the questionnaire which we have kept short so as not to take up too much of your precious time, and kindly complete it and send it back to us. Your input is important for the industry as more answers will give us a more accurate picture of the staff and salary situation in Malta. In previous years we managed to collect a good number of responses, however, you will agree, that the survey will be more indicative of the situation if we have more respondents. The demand for the surveys once completed, together with the comparative analysis with previous years, was overwhelming as it is definitely a useful tool to have. Your responses will be kept strictly confidential. In compliance with the Data Protection Act, The Research Bureau will not share your information with anyone. All results from this survey will be presented to the MRGC in the aggregate to protect the anonymity of respondents. The raw data will not be supplied to the Malta Remote Gaming Council or any other party, and three months after report presentation, the data on file will be rendered anonymous by deleting the details of the respondents. You may complete the questionnaire online at the following address: http://maltaremotegamingindustry2010.questionpro.com/. A copy and self-addressed envelope can be sent to you on request. We hope you will take the time to complete this questionnaire by latest Friday 17th September 2010. Members of Malta Remote Gaming Council will be entitled to the findings whilst non-members who supply a response will be entitled to a 50% discount on all quoted fees. If you have any questions or concerns about completing the questionnaire, or if you find difficulties with the questions, please do not hesitate to contact us directly. Sincerely, John Ellul Vincenti Managing Director The Research Bureau


Israel to block overseas egaming websites

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Israeli police have ordered internet service providers in the country to block access to overseas egaming websites. Sites on the banned list of website and IP addresses are understood to include Victor Chandler’s VCBet-branded casino and sportsbook. The move follows the arrest of 28 people three weeks ago in connection with distributing prepaid cards in the country for play on sites belonging to Victor Chandler and Stan James. Only two operators are licensed by the Israeli government to offer egaming to Israeli players, National Lottery and Winner-Toto. Credit card companies were forced in 2007 to remove their payment option from non-licensed sites in 2007. According to the Haaretz newspaper, a number of ISPs have asked for a one-week extension to study the legal and technological implications. The ISPs are arguing the block could easily be circumvented by the websites and that the police do not have the legal authority to impose the filter. Source: http://www.egrmagazine.com


Greece moving faster to regulate online casino gambling

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The country’s finance ministry stated recently that changes to Greek gambling laws are forthcoming soon. The gambling market is estimated to be worth about 5 billion euros or us$ 6.13 billion in taxable revenue representing just a portion of Greek huge and mounting national debt. Reuters news agency reported regarding internet gambling laws in Greece, "The regulative framework will soon be presented for public consultation." Greece has refused so far to modify it's stance on monopolistic gambling with the current draft law, OPAP would maintain its monopoly status on sports betting and lottery ticket sales through 2019, whereas licenses to operate internet casinos and poker rooms in Greece would be made available by the government. The national debt in Greece remains at approximately 310 billion euros, and a fine of 31,500 euros per day was levied on the Greek government by the European Commission in 2003 due to the violation of E.U. free movement of services principles. The revenue from licenses and taxation of the online casinos would go to paying down debt incurred by the recent International Monetary Fund, European Union funded bailout of Greece, during its financial meltdown. Ioannis Spanoudakis, CEO of OPAP announced that OPAP would be in the best position to take advantage of new gambling laws in Greece because it already owns over 5000 sales agents in the country. The government which owns 34% of OPAP, saw an 11% decrease in income for the first quarter of 2010. The original plan called for €1.3 billion in revenue to be generated from new gaming licenses, royalties and taxation by 2012 that is if the Greek government does something soon to change the current scene. The longer the laws makers take the more it will cost the nation in accumulated debt. In this case time is money and timing is everything. Yogonet.com / Online-Casinos.com


Boost to monopolies as ECJ backs Swedish laws

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has upheld Sweden’s ban on the advertising of online gambling services provided by companies not licensed in Sweden, striking a blow for operators in favour of Sweden’s Svenska Spel and other European national gambling monopolies. The judgment comes in two parallel cases, Sjöberg and Gerdin, against newspaper editors Otto Sjöberg, former editor-in-Chief at Swedish tabloid newspaper Expressen, and Ander Gerdin, former editor in chief and publisher of rival Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet, who were prosecuted in 2005 after their newspapers carried advertisements for unlicencsed gambling companies based outside Sweden. The Swedish court of appeal referred the case to the ECJ, asking whether the legislation banning the promotion of unlicensed gambling activities was compatible with EU law. In a clear judgment, the ECJ yesterday held that it was permissible for Sweden to ban any promotion of unlicensed gambling activities, accepting Sweden’s arguments that such a ban was necessary in order for it to have a tight control of the gambling sector and prevent private operators from making a profit from gambling. Stephen Ketteley, a partner in the gambling law team at law firm Berwin Leighton Paisner, said: “The ECJ appears to have unequivocally accepted that it is justified for EU Member States to ban private operators from operating gambling services within their borders. This arguably goes beyond the earlier cases in entrenching the positions of national monopolies… the ECJ’s position has clearly hardened in favour of monopolies and it is becoming increasingly difficult for operators to rely on EU law with any real conviction.” The ECJ was also asked to consider whether it is lawful for Sweden to apply stricter penalties for the promotion of gambling operated outside Sweden than for unlicensed gambling operated within Sweden. It ruled that it is not, which may force Sweden to repeal laws under which promotion of foreign gambling sites is subject to criminal penalties, but promotion of domestic unlicensed sites only subject to administrative punishment. The decision is the latest in a series in which the ECJ has supported monopolies in the last 12 months, including supporting the gambling monopolies in the Netherlands last month and Portugal in September. Sigrid Ligné, Secretary General of the European Gaming and Betting Association, said: “The Court will not resolve the challenges that are raised by the Internet. It is up to the legislator to embrace the reality of online gaming and betting in Europe. Italy, France and the UK have introduced online gaming legislation and Denmark is set to follow suit in 2011. We are confident that the Swedish and other governments will do likewise.” Source: http://www.egrmagazine.com


Commission responds to White List concerns

Monday, June 21, 2010

The UK Gambling Commission has responded to charges it did not undertake proper due diligence on Antigua''s regulatory system before adding it to its White List of approved egaming jurisdictions. In response to a request under the Freedom of Information Act submitted by gambling consultant and lobbyist Steve Donoughue, the UK''s gambling regulation body admitted that it had not even visited Antigua and Barbuda to examine its regulatory systems before adding it to its White List of approved jurisdictions, allowing remote gaming operators licensed there to advertise to consumers in the UK. The Commission said: "No member of the Commission has physically visited any white listed jurisdiction to investigate and corroborate the information provided by that jurisdiction in their White List application. "However, we carry out cost-effective ongoing reviews of white list operators as part of our regulatory work. This includes desk top based compliance checks to verify social responsibility measures are adequate as well as other checks related to the ability of these operators to advertise in the UK." Antigua and Barbuda was initially rejected in its first round of applications back in August 2007 and was added to the White List by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) after "a reconsideration of Antigua''s application following further representations made to the Secretary of State," according to Donoughue''s research. Antigua joins Alderney, Gibraltar, the Isle of Man, Tasmania, and all countries within the European Union (EU) and European Economic Area (EEA) on the UK government’s list of jurisdictions approved to advertise in the UK. Source: http://www.egrmagazine.com


EU court says countries can ban online gambling

Monday, June 14, 2010

EU countries can ban online gambling if their aim is to combat fraud, Europe''s highest court said on Thursday, dealing a blow to the multi-billion euro online betting industry seeking to break domestic monopolies. The European Union Court of Justice (ECJ) issued rulings on two separate challenges involving online gambling in the Netherlands. De Lotto, a Dutch non-profit-making foundation which offers games of chance, had asked a Dutch court to stop residents from using British bookmaker Ladbrokes'' online gambling operation as it was not licensed in the Netherlands. Ladbrokes appealed to the Dutch Supreme Court after the lower court backed De Lotto. And the Dutch Supreme Court asked the ECJ in 2008 to rule whether the Dutch licensing system was compatible with EU law allowing for the free movement of goods and services across the 27-country European Union. In the second challenge, Betfair, the world''s largest online gaming exchange, took its case to a Dutch court after Dutch authorities refused to grant it a license similar to others given to two Dutch companies. The court subsequently sought guidance from the ECJ. The ECJ backed the position of the lower Dutch court on Ladbrokes. "Such a restriction may be justified, in particular, by the objectives of consumer protection and the prevention of both fraud and incitement to squander money on gambling, as well as the need to preserve public order," it said. It cited the same rationale for the Betfair case. "The grant to such an operator of exclusive rights to operate games of chance, or the renewal of such rights, without any competitive tendering procedure would not appear to be disproportionate in the light of the objectives pursued by the Netherlands legislation," it said. Lobbying group the European Gaming & Betting Association (EGBA) said the judicial process could not resolve Internet issues and urged the European Commission to take action on a pan-European level. "It is for the European legislator to ensure that this IT-based medium which allows for the highest security standards warrants consistent customer protection and fraud control throughout the EU," EGBA secretary-general Sigrid Ligne said. A host of online gambling companies have taken several European countries to court in a bid to break into lucrative markets but have found it a tough battle. Last September, the ECJ said countries could ban gambling websites in order to fight crime. Consultancy H2 Gambling Capital estimates the European interactive market could be worth as much as 12.6 billion euros ($15.50 billion) by 2012, up from 8.3 billion euros last year. Source: http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE6522XO20100603


France issues 17 on-line betting licences

Monday, June 14, 2010

Eleven companies have been licensed and registered by the French government to conduct online betting on sports and horse races, as well as poker, the local regulatory authority said on Tuesday. The companies include state-run Francaise des Jeux, horsing-racing outfit Pari Mutuel Urbain (PMU), Iliad Gaming, Sajoo, Betclic, Beturf, BES SS, Everest Gaming, France Pari, SPS Betting France and Table 14. "There were 35 requests for licences and we have retained 17 at this stage. None have been formally rejected," said Jean-Francois Vilotte, the president of Arjel, the regulator of gaming in France, in an interview on Europe 1 radio. The official licences come after France made certain kinds of online gambling legal, breaking the prior stranglehold of state-run group Francaise de Jeux and PMU. They also come just days ahead of the start of the soccer World Cup in South Africa. A host of gambling companies, including Austria''s BWIN, UK group Partygaming and privately held Mangas Gaming and Pokerstar are in the process of applying for a licence, seeking first mover advantage under the new regime. Critics, however, say the extent of market liberalisation remains inadequate, as online companies have been shut out of lucrative and low-risk casino games like blackjack and roulette, as well as lotto. Meanwhile, Francaise de Jeux will keep all its betting outlets, set inside France''s ubiquitous cafes and tobacco shops. source: http://in.reuters.com/article/idINIndia-49132720100608


Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act finally comes into force

Friday, June 04, 2010

With a target date of 2008 for implementation, the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) finally came into effect in the USA on 1 June. UIGEA was originally approved back in 2006 but implementation was delayed because of protests from civil liberties groups and the vague nature of the legislative text. The UIGEA requires financial institutions to block transactions to and from online gambling websites and effectively enforces a ban on online gambling. Many operators such as PartyGaming and 888.com have already been profoundly affected. In particular, PartyGaming paid the US Department of Justice $105 million in 2009 to avoid prosecution for illegally accepting online bets before it withdrew from the US in 2006. However, some industry analysts have already speculated that online gambling will continue in the US, since many transactions involving US players are coded in order to avoid detection by financial institutions. In any case, the ban may not remain in force for long: alternative legislation which proposes regulation and taxation of online gambling has been introduced by Massachusetts Representative Barney Frank and is due to be considered this summer. Furthermore, Senator Rod Wright, leader of the Californian Senate Committee on Gambling, has proposed a bill which would license up to three California-based companies to provide online poker websites for Californian residents only. Introducing this legislation would potentially raise significant revenues for the State - at least 20% of the licensed operators'' gross revenues would flow to the State and help to counter its massive budget deficit. source: http://www.olswang.com/


European Court of Justice decides that Dutch gambling rules comply with EU Treaty

Friday, June 04, 2010

Today the European Court has published two judgments[1] which conclude that EU Member States can restrict nationals from accessing the websites of gambling operators established and licensed outside of their territory in other Member States. Closely following the Bwin/Liga v Santa Casa judgment of last year, the European Court has again ruled that the EU principle of free movement of services does not apply automatically to the gambling sector and Member States are able to enforce rules which prevent licensed operators from offering their gambling services if such restrictions are objectively justified, non-discriminatory and proportionate. In December we reported on the progress of cases involving claims by Betfair and Ladbrokes against the Dutch Minister of Justice and De Lotto (the Dutch monopoly gambling operator) respectively. The Dutch national courts concerned referred several questions to the European Court of Justice ("ECJ") about the compatibility of the Dutch licensing system with EU law. We also reported on the Opinion of Advocate General Yves Bot which was published on 16 December. Earlier today the ECJ published its judgments in the cases which, as anticipated, broadly followed the Advocate General's Opinion. The ECJ agreed with the Advocate General's findings that Member States can restrict operators' rights to provide gambling services if a single operator has the exclusive right to provide such services to national citizens. The ECJ echoes the Bwin/Liga v. Santa Casa judgment by emphasising the rights of Member States to maintain monopoly gambling systems and restricting the rights of online gambling operators established outside of their territory irrespective of the fact that they hold licences and operate within the regulatory system of another EU Member State. Both cases contain similar arguments but it is worthwhile picking out some of the key points the ECJ made in each judgment: The Ladbrokes judgment provides: •The Dutch legislation constitutes a restriction on the free movement of services but Member States can grant an exclusive licence to provide gambling services to a single operator if objectively justified (to prevent fraud and gambling addiction and generally to preserve public order). The national courts must determine whether Dutch legislation serves these objectives and whether it is proportionate in light of these objectives; •Furthermore, monopoly operators can make their games more attractive to Dutch citizens if the intention of doing so is also to prevent fraud and protect consumers who might otherwise use unlicensed websites. The judgment provides that "a policy of controlled expansion in the betting and gaming sector may be entirely consistent with the objective of drawing players away from clandestine betting and gaming - and as such, activities which are prohibited – to activities which are authorised and regulated. In order to achieve that objective, authorised operators must represent a reliable, but at the same time attractive, alternative to a prohibited activity. This may as such necessitate the offer of an extensive range of games, advertising on a certain scale and the use of new distribution techniques." The national court must again determine whether the Dutch policy is pursued in order to solve problems of unlawful gaming activities; •The ECJ notes that "the objective of protecting consumers from gambling addiction is, in principle, difficult to reconcile with a policy of expanding games of chance,[…], such a policy cannot be regarded as being consistent unless the scale of unlawful activity is significant and the measures adopted are aimed at channelling consumers' propensity to gamble into activities that are lawful." The ECJ states that demand for games of chance has already increased noticeably in the Netherlands and refers to evidence provided by De Lotto and the Minister of Justice which it says "may establish an intention on the part of the national authorities narrowly to circumscribe the expansion of games of chance in the Netherlands"; •Where a national court finds that restrictions imposed under national legislation (e.g. to prohibit all gambling except that provided by monopoly gambling operators) are proportionate to address the aims of the legislation, the court does not need to determine whether subordinate rules intended to ensure compliance with the restrictions are proportionate; and •Referring to the Bwin/Liga v Santa Casa judgment, the principle of mutual recognition does not apply in the gambling sector: operators licensed within one Member State are not automatically permitted to provide the same services in other Member States. A monopoly system may be compatible with EU law where justified (with the objective of combating fraud and crime) and proportionate. The Betfair judgment closely replicates the arguments provided in the Ladbrokes judgment but makes the following points: •Again the judgment provides that a restriction on the ability of licensed gambling operators to provide their services to citizens in other EU Member States can be justified on the basis of combating fraud and crime; •The ECJ states, "the Member States have sufficient discretion to determine the level of protection sought in relation to games of chance and, consequently, it is open to them to choose a single-operator licensing system, as in [the Netherlands]." But such a scheme can only be justified if it is based on objective, non-discriminatory criteria known in advance; and •The ECJ notes that granting an exclusive licence to a single operator without a competitive tendering process may not be disproportionate if the Member State concerned decides to grant the licence to or renews the licence of a public operator under State supervision or of a private operator whose activities are also subject to strict control by the public authorities. The national court must determine whether the holders of licences in the Netherlands satisfy those conditions; The Dutch courts must now apply the ECJ's rulings to the facts of the cases before them. Whilst these judgments will be keenly anticipated by those involved, unfortunately the outcome is unlikely to be favourable to online gambling operators. For Ladbrokes in particular this judgment may signify the unhappy conclusion of numerous legal battles with the Dutch authorities over recent years (no doubt involving huge legal fees along the way). For Betfair and other gambling operators licensed within the EU this judgment will come as another bitter disappointment. The judgment also starkly highlights the necessity of ensuring regulatory compliance with national gambling rules on a country-by-country basis source: http://www.olswang.com


California introduces long-awaited internet poker bill

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

California has introduced its long-awaited bill authorising the creation of an intrastate online poker system. Senator Rod Wright, leader of the Senate Committee with oversight for gambling, introduced the amended version of SB 1485 late on Friday. The bill proposes the state''s Department of Justice award up to three five-year contracts to California-based operators to run online poker websites for state residents. The bill has been designated as an urgency measure, meaning it would go into effect immediately upon legislative passage and signature by the Governor. A non-urgency measure would not go into effect until 1 January 2011. This urgency status of the bill reflects California’s pressing need for tax revenues to plug its huge and growing budget deficit, set to reach to us$ 19 billion by the end of the current financial year. Florida and New Jersey are the other cash-hungry US states currently considering intrastate egaming systems as authorised under the 2006 federal Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA). The act banned deposits relating to internet gambling already illegal under other federal, state or tribal gambling laws. The state and federal holiday on Monday means SB 1485 will appear before California legislators on Tuesday 1 June 2010, the day final UIGEA regulations compelling banks, credit card companies and other financial institutions to “prevent payments to businesses in connection with unlawful Internet gambling” come into force. Wright’s bill differs significantly in its proposals to those in the bill for which California gaming tribe the Morongo sought a sponsor last year. This aimed to establish a single California poker site run by a consortium of tribes and card rooms, and stalled amid accusations from other tribes that the Morongo was looking to dominate online poker alongside the card clubs. Yogonet.com / eGaming Review


RGA calls for meaningful action to make national laws EU compliant

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

The RGA welcomes the Spanish Presidency’s efforts to produce a balanced document, but argues strongly that it should not prevent the European Commission from vigorously defending the rules of the Internal Market where the gambling laws of many Member States are clearly non-compliant. The Spanish Presidency of the EU submitted a progress report on gambling in the EU to the Competiveness Council meeting of 25-26 May The Spanish Presidency’s progress report focuses on the definition of illegal gambling, enforcement measures, transitional periods in the context of new licensing regimes in national markets and public campaigns against so-called illegal gambling. Unlike previous Presidencies, the Spanish authorities consulted the main stakeholders (including the RGA), whose views are presented in a separate document but not in the progress report itself. Although the RGA does not necessarily agree with all the opinions expressed in the progress report, it notes with satisfaction that the document explicitly mentions the requirement that national legislation must comply with EU law. This report continues the work initiated by France in the Council in the 2nd half of 2008. The RGA welcomes a debate on gambling within the Council or in any other forums and the exchange of knowledge that it entails. Nevertheless, this debate (or any other in the context of a possible European Commission’s green paper on this subject) should not be used as an excuse by Member States to maintain or introduce legislation that is in breach of EU law. The Commission, should make this clear and fulfil its duty as Guardian of the Treaties by pushing on with the pending gambling-related infringements that have been opened against several Member States. Clive Hawkswood, RGA Chief Executive, said: “We understand the wish of EU countries to consider these issues collectively and we are grateful to have had the opportunity to express our views to the Spanish Presidency. However, we continue to question the added value of this debate in the Council given the lack of progress in promoting fair competition within EU markets. All of the valid concerns expressed about consumer protection can be fully addressed through appropriate regulation, but far too much of the reports so far have really been about protecting domestic markets and suppliers from competition.” “This would simply be unacceptable if it was any other industry, but unfortunately where gambling is concerned many Member States are more than willing to disregard the rules of the Internal Market. They will continue to do so until the European Commission takes action to stop them,” Hawkswood ended. Yogonet.com


Statement from Poker Players Alliance on House Ways and Means Hearing on Internet Poker Ta

Friday, May 21, 2010

Statement from Poker Players Alliance on House Ways and Means Hearing on Internet Poker Tax Bill Washington, DC (May 19, 2010) – John Pappas, Executive Director of the Poker Players Alliance (PPA), the leading poker grassroots advocacy group, with more than one million members nationwide, today released the following statement on the House Ways and Means Committee hearing on HR 4976, the Internet Gambling Regulation and Tax Enforcement Act of 2010. "Today''''s hearing underscores the increasing Congressional interest in a licensed and regulated online gaming environment. While the robust consumer protections provided by regulation are the biggest selling point, in the current economic environment, additional tax revenue derived from a licensed industry is certainly appealing as well. "It is important to note that this bill would not levy a new tax on poker players. Rather, it requires each licensed Internet gambling operator to pay a licensing fee – nothing would be deducted from a player''''s deposit. Individuals would be required to pay annual income taxes on their net winnings, just like players who collect winnings in land-based casinos do today. "The PPA is working to remove language from the bill that would fine players who play on unlicensed sites as we firmly believe the unlicensed sites should bear the full consequences of not obtaining a license in the U.S. "We thank the Committee for holding this important hearing today. We look forward to a successful mark up of legislation to license and regulate online gaming in July in the House Financial Services Committee.” http://www.isa-guide.de/articles/29598.html


Ireland to tax egaming, impose licence regime

Friday, May 21, 2010

IRELAND has confirmed it is to tax online betting and introduce licences for overseas betting providers, citing the need to secure funding for the racing industry. The Irish head of government (Taoiseach) Brian Cowen said at a dinner last night hosted by racing newspaper The Irish Field that legislation would be introduced requiring overseas operators to attain a licence in order to offer products into the Irish market. “This will have the additional benefit of facilitating the extension of the tax regime for the betting industry to all those providing online and telephone betting and so underpin funding for the racing industry,” Cowen was reported as saying by broadcaster RTE Business. Paddy Power chief executive Patrick Kennedy has consistently argued that the solution to safeguarding the future of the Irish racing industry does not lie with licensing and taxing all online operators active in the country and banning those without permit to advertise. Kennedy told the Irish Times recently that such a ban would be doomed to fail as online operators do most marketing and customer acquisition online, citing the example of Australia, a territory Paddy Power entered last year via its Sportsbet buy. “Australians now spend more per head on poker than in the UK, where it is legal,” he told the paper in February. Australia''s advisory body recently recommended repealing the laws. UK bookmakers William Hill and Ladbrokes cited pressure from low-tax operators such as Paddy Power and Gibraltar-headquartered Bwin when they moved their operations offshore last year. The bookmakers’ offshore move was swiftly followed by the UK government in January announcing plans to introduce a licensing regime for all egaming operators active in the UK market. Ladbrokes credited the move of its sports book offshore with a 40% rise in operating profit from its egaming division. http://www.egrmagazine.com


France: Constitutional Council clears new egaming laws

Friday, May 21, 2010

FRANCE’s Constitutional Council, the highest constitutional authority in the country, has declared that new laws regulating online gaming are constitutional, paving the way for a French egaming licence system. The decision yesterday afternoon follows an appeal to the Council by the French Socialist Party in the wake of the law being voted in by the National Assembly on 6 April. It dismisses all the complaints against the regulation presented by its opponents, which included that the law infringes the public’s right to health protection and that it contravenes the principle of equality in taxation, and will lead to the creation of the new Autorité de Régulation des Jeux en Ligne (ARJEL) egaming regulator. Official decrees providing details of the regulation such as tax rates, which products will be authorised and how the regulation will function will be published by French budget minister François Baroin shortly. http://www.egrmagazine.com


US Committee to review legalized internet gambling

Friday, May 21, 2010

The U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Ways and Means is to meet today to hear testimony on tax proposals related to legalized internet gambling, as the enforcement deadline for UIGEA regulations looms. Ways and Means Chairman Sander M. Levin said on Wednesday that the full Committee will meet next week to discuss the current tax laws and reporting requirements applicable to betting in the United States and to consider tax proposals related to legislation pending in the Congress to license and regulate internet gambling activities. With the enforcement date of regulations implementing the UIGEA less than three weeks away, the Committee will hear oral arguments from invited witnesses only due to the limited time available, but will accept written submissions up to Wednesday June 2nd. The Committee will focus on Congressman Jim McDermott’s Internet Gambling Regulation and Tax Enforcement Act, a companion bill to Representative Barney Frank’s Internet Gambling Regulation, Consumer Protection and Enforcement Act. The McDermott bill has recently been revised in order to address the concerns of various gambling interests in the United States, including Native American tribes, many of which see internet gambling as a threat to their existing land-based casino operations. Included in the revised bill are four new provisions including a revenue incentive for states and tribes to participate through a 6% tax on gambling deposits which could generate an estimated us$ 30 billion for states and tribes on top of the us$ 41 billion in revenues for the federal government. Yogonet.com / Gaming Intelligence


LGA terminates 30 i-gaming licences in a year

Friday, May 14, 2010

The Lotteries and Gaming Authority over the past year terminated 30 gaming licences, Finance Minister Tonio Fenech said today. Malta, he told an i-gaming seminar, had embraced the online gaming revolution "with vigour and vision" whilst offering one of the most modern environments in Europe for online gaming activities. Malta was now home to more than 250 remote gaming companies, holding over 350 licences, the minister said. "Although these numbers are remarkable, we have also shown that we are an effective regulating jurisdiction and not simply a licensing office. As a regulatory body, the LGA performs continuous compliance, monitoring and operator checks, and it takes the administrative action were necessary. Since its inception, it has not, and will continue to not shy away from taking the tough decisions such as terminating licenses." "Such terminations ensure that we are safeguarding the value of the licences which other serious operators have worked hard to obtain, and keep on working hard to maintain. Maintaining a licence from our jurisdiction means that operators are keeping themselves in line with the highest remote gaming standards that exist within both the European Union as well as beyond its borders," the minister said. The minister spoke about developments in e-gaming within the European Union and said that Malta was making the necessary representations when required. Malta also looked forward to the publication of a Green Paper on remote gaming. "We are not against competition, but we cannot accept that the very principles of the EU Treaty are jeopardized by the restrictions which are being proposed by some member states," Mr Fenech said.


EC says that new Italian law has opened its online gambling market

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The European Commission has ensured that Italian citizens will have access to a wider choice of authorised on-line gambling services as a result of changes made to Italian laws on online gambling. It has therefore closed a series of legal cases against Italy concerning this legislation. The Commission had previously found that Italy''s restrictions on foreign operators were disproportionate and had started legal proceedings against Italy for breaching EU rules on the freedom to provide services. Following the Commission''s legal action, the Italian authorities engaged in an open and constructive dialogue with the Commission and amended its on-line gambling legislation. Before Italy changed its law, the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) and the National Horse Breeders Enhancement Society (UNIRE) had the exclusive right to organise sports betting, including online gambling. As a result, other legitimate European gambling operators could not offer their online services in Italy. Moreover, access to their web sites was effectively blocked from Italy. While EU law permits Member States to restrict the offering of gambling services in the public interest, for example to prevent gambling addiction or organised crime, such restrictions must be coherent with the Member State''s own behaviour in offering the very same services. Furthermore, any measures taken by Member States to restrict the market have to be necessary, proportionate and non-discriminatory. Acting upon a complaint, the Commission found that Italy''s restrictions on foreign service providers and measures to block access to the web sites at that time were disproportionate. As a result, the Commission started infringement proceedings against Italy in 2006. With its new law, Italy has now opened its online gambling market. Citizens in Italy will now have a broader choice of online gambling services for sports betting, which will continue to be authorised and supervised by the Italian authorities. Meanwhile, other European gambling operators will have the possibility to apply for Italian licences and offer their services in Italy. Nevertheless, gambling will continue to be safeguarded in the general interest in order to protect vulnerable consumers and to prevent gambling addiction as well as criminal activities. The Commission acted upon receiving a complaint in 2003. After investigating the case, the Commission started infringement proceedings against Italy in 2006 by sending a letter of formal notice, the first stage of an infringement procedure. Following an open and constructive dialogue between the Commission and the Italian authorities, Italy notified the Commission in 2009 it had amended its laws. It welcomes the new Italian law that will allow for the cross border provision of services, with clear rules for the authorisation and the granting of licences to domestic and European operators and has decided to close the case. Yogonet.com / Journal des Casinos


eGaming Malta

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Dear Members, I trust this email finds you well. We are pleased to inform you that CountryProfiler eGaming Malta magazine is now available online. Below please find a link to the online version of the 2010 edition, which can be viewed electronically or downloaded in pdf format. Companies, government agencies and associations wishing to link to the magazines or distribute the pdf versions are free to do so. CountryProfiler eGaming Malta Magazine 2010 http://www.countryprofiler.com/eGamingMalta_10 Kind Regards, Management Board MRGC


ANALYSIS - No jackpot for online gambling firms in France

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Online gambling sites will not rake in easy winnings from the newly legalised French market, with high taxes and strict compliance rules eating into margins and a state monopoly retaining the sweetest part of the pie. Last week, France made certain kinds of online gambling legal, breaking the stranglehold of state-run group Francaise de Jeux and horse racing outfit PMU. A host of gambling companies, including Austria''s BWIN, UK group Partygaming and privately held Mangas Gaming and Pokerstar are in the process of applying for a licence, fearing the loss of vital first-mover advantage. But critics say the terrain is risky because liberalisation is inadequate: online companies have been shut out of lucrative and low-risk casino games like blackjack and roulette as well as lotto. Meanwhile Francaise de Jeux will keep all its betting outlets, set inside France''s ubiquitous cafes and tobacco shops. Only the most robust companies will survive. "We won''t make any money at first. But first-mover is important in this market so we''re there," said Mangas Gaming vice-chairman Isabelle Parize, who described the tax regime as "catastrophic". TOUGH FIELD The French gambling market is one of the most important new fields in Europe since both Italy and the UK have already legalised gambling and analysts say Germany won''t legalise soon. Online gambling in France could reach 1.25 billion euros ($1.70 billion) by 2012, says Manchester-based consultancy H2 Gambling Capital and around 50 companies are expected to apply for between one and three licences in France. The new law, which makes online poker and sports betting legal in time for the soccer World Cup in June, is designed to both boost tax revenue and end the dominance of the two players in France''s 8.5-billion-euro gambling market. Companies say the sports betting tax rate, set at 8.8 percent of revenues, will erode profits. The French regulator has also put in one of the strictest compliance regimes in Europe and requires all bets to be permanently stored in order to track and fight addiction. Risk runs high for new entrants as Francaise de Jeux will keep its monopoly on low-risk lotto and casino games while online operators will be overly exposed to sports betting, where losses can potentially wipe out the house. "We''re missing casino games, which is a shame, since they are important to overall financial stability," said Antonio Costanzo, interim CEO of BWIN France. "Let''s just say the monopoly will do fine." WHO WILL WIN? The French parliament will review the law in 18 months and could lower the tax rate then, as Italy did last year when it became clear that punters were not switching to legal sites because they were too expensive. By then, some companies could fold, merge or take advantage of their legal status and raise new cash by floating their shares. Francaise de Jeux, already the world''s second-largest lottery, has said it would team up with television broadcaster TF1 and look at acquisitions abroad, while PMU, a horse racing specialist, has teamed up with Partygaming to get into poker. The question remains over what role the media companies -- with more money, legitimacy and market power than the gaming companies -- will play. So far their entry has been cautious. Vivendi subsidiary Canal Plus announced a joint venture with Ladbrokes and television station M6 made a less binding agreement with Mangas. But TF1 is the only one to set up its own online gambling web site. "You''d better have a good plan. You''re betting against your customers," said Martin Oelbermann at Munich-based consulting group, MECN, adding he thought gambling too risky for media companies. Another question is whether French players will switch to the legal sites and embrace gambling. In 2009, the average French adult lost 171 euros gambling which H2 Gambling thinks will increase to 192 euros by 2012. But this is still modest compared to the average Italian at over 400 euros and it could take a lot to change French habits. "The 60-year-old granny playing lotto may get thousands of flyers for online poker, but I''m not sure she''s going to take it up," said Oelbermann. Source: http://in.reuters.com/article/technologyNews/idINIndia-47685520100414?sp=true


Gaming legislation on the way in Ukraine

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Ukraine government is actively seeking to pass new legislation permitting casinos in some form, only a year after implementing an indefinite ban on gaming properties. Gaming establishments were banned by the country''s parliament in May last year following a fire at a slot hall in Dnipropetrovsk, which officials claimed demonstrated a reckless disregard for regulations. Although the initial ban was opposed by President Viktor Yushchenko, he eventually relented and signed it into law. Just one year on, sources close to the process have revealed to InterGaming that the loss in tax revenues brought about by the ban is posing a dilemma for the government and, in an effort to address growing budget deficits, the authorities are now seeking to legalise gaming once more. Aside from the loss in tax revenues, Ukraine''s gaming ban may have also played into the hands of neighbouring countries, whose casinos have been quick to capitalise on the opportunity to attract customers no longer able to play in either Ukraine or Russia. Yogonet.com / InterGame Online


Bwin to launch French site after law

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Austrian Internet bookmaker bwin Interactive Entertainment plans to restart its French service after France this week allowed commercial operators to offer online gambling. The operator, whose chief executives were four years ago briefly detained in France on allegations of illegal gambling, hopes to obtain a license before the summer, Austrian newspaper Die Presse quoted bwin''''s Investor Relations manager as saying. Bwin suspended its French website after the arrest of its two CEOs in September 2006. It has meanwhile founded a joint venture with the publisher of French sports newspaper L''''Equipe. French parliament passed a bill on Tuesday to end a state monopoly on online gambling and allow privately owned websites to offer bets on poker, soccer and horse racing. "We have long fought for a liberalisation (of online gambling) and obviously think this is a good decision," bwin IR chief Konrad Sveceny told Die Presse. Sveceny was not immediately available for a comment. Yogonet.com / Spanish Gaming News / Reuters


MRGC Participation in MiGS10

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Dear Members, This year the Malta IGaming Seminar will again be holding the seminar on 13/14th May, 2010. We have reached an agreement with the organisers for a 20% discount for each delegate sent to the seminar by MRGC members. All MRGC members who wish to attend and benefit from the 20% refund are to click on www.maltaigamingseminar.com to register and enter the Promotional Code MR20GC. MiGS will issue the refund once attendance at the seminar is confirmed. The MRGC will also be giving a presentation at the Seminar and look forward to answer any queries you may have on the day. We look forward to seeing you. Best Regards Management Board MRGC


Online casinos blocked in Estonia

Friday, April 09, 2010

The small Baltic nation of Estonia has started blocking access to leading online casino and poker sites including PartyPoker.com and PokerStars.com as part of a two-tier strategy designed to implement its new Gambling Act. The country legalized online gambling earlier this year but stipulated that players could only take part at sites licensed in the nation such as Olympic-Online.com, which is owned by Estonian land-based casino operator Olympic Entertainment Group and offers a range of some 150 games in English and Russian. The Estonian Tax And Custom Board subsequently drew up a list of around 200 domain names associated with online gambling and stipulated that local Internet service providers block services from these sites or face a fine of around us$ 15,600. Some of the world’s largest and most popular online casinos including Unibet.com, FullTiltPoker.com, Bwin.com, PokerStars.com and PartyPoker.com are included on this register and the move has drawn criticism from the European Commission. Playtech-powered Olympic-Online.com is the only online casino to have been authorized for Estonian players so far while authorities claim that the nation’s moves are only temporary as it comes to terms with precisely how to run a successful and legitimate virtual gaming operation. “The possibility that online poker gaming could be restricted is not good news for us,” said Estonian professional poker player Imre Leibold. “I believe and hope that the whole affair is resolved and that there will be several reasonable gaming locations on the market. However, if things get tough, one may have to consider moving residence or start working abroad like Estonian builders in Finland.” Yogonet.com / igaming Business


France votes in online gambling laws

Friday, April 09, 2010

French National Assembly voted in favor of a bill to legalize online gambling, all but officially opening up the French market to international operators. The bill, which passed a first reading by the Senate in February, remains only to be approved by the EU and French Conseil d''Etat (Supreme Court) and Conseil Constitutionnel (Constitutional Council). It means that the French citizens are likely to be able to place online sports bets ahead of the football World Cup this summer. In a statement budget Minister François Baroin said he was “convinced this solution will allow us to gradually drain the black-market of online gaming by creating a legal alternative”. Monopolies La Francaise Des Jeux (FDJ) and Pari-Mutuel Urbain (PMU) have both taken significant measures to enhance both their brands and their product offerings. FDJ, the French national lottery operator and the second largest lottery operator in the world, acquired LVS last month, the betting software supplier that in January won the contract to deliver fixed-odds sports betting online for FDJ once the French online sports betting market opens. PMU, the largest horse racing monopoly in Europe, signed a deal for PartyGaming to provide it with an online poker product last month, its second tie with a high-profile egaming operator after November’s agreement for Paddy Power to provide it with fixed-odds risk management and pricing tools. Yogonet.com / EGR Magazine


UK proposes licensing all operators targeting Britain

Friday, April 09, 2010

Following a review of the current system of remote gambling regulation in Britain, the UK Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), together with the Gambling Commission, launched a consultation process on the feasibility of introducing a licensing system for overseas remote gambling operators wishing to target the British market. The DCMS said that there was a clear need to look again at the system of remote gambling regulation, in order to address concerns raised by Parliamentarians and others as to whether the current system affords adequate protection to British consumers, given that an increasing number of remote gambling operators are regulated offshore. The DCMS highlighted a number of issues with the current system which give cause for concern. It said that overseas operators are not currently compelled to provide certain information, such as on suspicious betting activity, to the UK Gambling Commission, even when such activity involves British sports or British consumers. It also noted that overseas licensed operators are not obliged to contribute towards research, education and treatment of problem gambling in Britain. Another issue raised by the DCMS is the recent trend within Europe towards individual approaches to regulation by member states including national licensing regimes, as well as an increasingly global market with an unclear landscape. Yogonet.com / Gaming Intelligence


French National Assembly has passed a bill to legalise online gambling

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Despite determined left wing political resistance, the French National Assembly has passed a bill to legalise online gambling and open up the French market to international operators. Virtual poker machines and games of chance are not included in the law because they are considered too addictive to be legalised. On Tuesday the National Assembly passed the bill, which provides for regulation in a frame work described by observers as the strictest in Europe, reports the publication France24. The law had already successfully passed through the French Senate earlier this year (see previous InfoPowa reports) and is now expected to become law well in advance of the World Cup football championships, which take place in South Africa mid June to mid July. Budget Minister François Baroin said: “This law will allow us to gradually purify the black market of online gaming by creating a legal alternative", adding that the legislation would enable authorities to put an end to what he described as the “wild and anarchistic” development of Internet gambling. Left wing opposition parties vigorously but unsuccessfully fought the law over a week of fierce debate and gave notice that they may take the issue to the Constitutional Court. “We have never examined a bill under such obvious and intense pressure from lobbies expecting a new law to satisfy their financial interests”, Socialist spokesman Gaëtan Gorce said. The bill will be followed by a set of decrees which, once signed by the Minister, effectively brings the law into force. It is expected that the decrees will be signed next (May) month. ARJEL, the regulator in France, has already posted the requirements for an applying operator on its web site. The decrees, which have remained confidential, were sent to the Commission earlier this year and the European Commission reply is expected at the end of this (April) month. Associated Press reported that the online gambling sector generated nearly Euros 800 million in France in 2008, and will likely draw a variety of players - online bet organisers, sports clubs, and advertisers – to compete with state monopolies PMU and La Française des jeux if they are successful in obtaining licenses from regulator ARJEL. In related news, the UK-based trade association representing online gambling companies, the Remote Gambling Association, criticised the new law, saying that it does little to truly facilitate a competitive and thriving market and that ultimately the burden will fall squarely on the shoulders of French players. The RGA repeated its call for the draft law to be amended to bring it into compliance with EU rules. "Even if the European Commission, as guardian of the Treaties, feels that a licensing system is sufficient to satisfy EU rules, the French law makes a mockery of a supposed "controlled opening", said Clive Hawkswood, chief executive of the RGA. "Whether it is the hundred plus pages of technical rules, the false limitation on payouts to players, the ineffective blocking mechanisms or the introduction of an unsubstantiated sports right, this system is, unfortunately, seriously flawed and will make it difficult for any private sector company to be successful, especially in the area of sports betting". "While we have no access to the decrees which will define the secondary regulation of this sector, we are fearful that they will simply extrapolate the mechanisms in the primary law into more onerous detail," said Hawkswood. "The technical standards document has heightened these fears with technical issues which raise serious considerations as to the feasibility of the frontal server system. But the greatest fears are reserved for those areas which are nothing more than a smokescreen to protect the incumbent providers." The RGA has received legal advice on the bill and remains committed to seeking all avenues of redress if the bill and its subsequent regulations appear to deny market opportunities to private operators, Hawkswood added. "Our biggest concern is that this type of system is accepted by courts and the EU institutions as somehow a fair access system. It looks nothing like the Italian system for instance and runs roughshod over EU rules meant to provide operators access to EU markets. We hope the new Commissioner who oversees this dossier will continue to scrutinise this law and its negative effects on market access." Source:recentpoker.com


French remote gambling law fails EU tests

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

(PRESS RELEASE) — The lower House of the French Parliament adopted today the remote gambling law which creates a licensing system for private operators wishing to provide services in France. Hailed by the French government as a “controlled opening” of the market, the bill does little to truly facilitate a competitive and thriving market for such services and ultimately the burden of the bill will fall squarely on the shoulders of French players. The Remote Gambling Association (RGA), representing the world’s largest remote gambling operators, repeats its call that the draft law must be amended to adhere to EU rules. “Even if the European Commission, as guardian of the Treaties, feels that a licensing system is sufficient to satisfy EU rules, the French law makes a mockery of a supposed “controlled opening”. Whether it is the hundred plus pages of technical rules, the false limitation on payouts to players, the ineffective blocking mechanisms or the introduction of an unsubstantiated sports right, this system is, unfortunately, seriously flawed and will make it difficult for any private sector company to be successful, especially in the area of sports betting”, stated Clive Hawkswood, Chief Executive of the RGA. The bill will be followed by a set of decrees which, once signed by the Minister, effectively brings the law into force. It is expected that the decrees will be signed in May, thus opening up of the market prior to the World Cup. ARJEL, the regulator in France, has already posted the requirements for an applying operator on its web site. The decrees, which have remained confidential, were sent to the Commission earlier this year and the European Commission reply is expected at the end of April. “While we have no access to the decrees which will define the secondary regulation of this sector, we are fearful that they will simply extrapolate the mechanisms in the primary law into more onerous detail. The technical standards document has heightened these fears with technical issues which raise serious considerations as to the feasibility of the frontal server system. But the greatest fears are reserved for those areas which are nothing more than a smokescreen to protect the incumbent providers,” stated Mr. Hawkswood. The RGA has received legal advice on the bill and remains committed to seeking all avenues of redress if the bill and its subsequent regulations appear to deny market opportunities to private operators. “Our biggest concern is that this type of system is accepted by courts and the EU institutions as somehow a fair access system. It looks nothing like the Italian system for instance and runs roughshod over EU rules meant to provide operators access to EU markets. We hope the new Commissioner who oversees this dossier will continue to scrutinize this law and its negative effects on market access.” Source : http://poker.prosportsonline.net/


Barnier: EU Parliament 'changed dramatically' on EU gaming law

Monday, March 29, 2010

The European Commission must "retain its role as guardian of the [European] Treaty and continue to investigate complaints of violations of European law", the new European Commissioner for Internal Market and Services, Michel Barnier, has said. In an interview with eGaming Review''s French media partner, iGaming France, Barnier said he wanted to encourage dialogue between stakeholders and that there seemed to be a willingness from European politicians to examine an EU-wide harmonised regulatory framework to deal with the cross-border nature of egaming. When asked if there was any possibility the European authorities would consider such a harmonised regulatory system for online gambling, Barnier said the Member States and the European Parliament had rejected the idea during the negotiations on the Services Directive in 2004, but added: "In recent discussions, I had confirmation that the opinion of [the European] Parliament on this issue has changed dramatically. Online gaming has grown, its cross-border activity is clear for all to see and parliamentarians are now asking the Commission to deal with the key issues raised by such a phenomenon." He added: "Many of my colleagues in the European Parliament expect the Commission to work on the questions and challenges raised by online gaming, rather than focusing on infringement procedures. Of course, the Commission must retain its role as guardian of the (European) Treaty and continue to investigate complaints of violations of European law." Barnier took up his post in Brussels in December and is said to be a political ally of French President Nicolas Sarkozy. He welcomed France''s regulation of its egaming sector, which the Frenchman said resulted from a constructive dialogue between the Commission and France to adapt to the market forces. "For my part, I want to be able to better understand the issues: prevention of addiction, risk of corruption or money laundering, protection of under-age gamblers and identify responses by opening a dialogue about a cross-border phenomenon and all the issues it raises," he said. Barnier also called for a green paper to resume dialogue among Member States, operators, sports event organisers, academics, medical professionals and consumers to see how a harmonised regulatory framework could be devised and what issues it would raise. Source: http://www.egrmagazine.com/news/522742/barnier-eu-parliament-changed-dramatically-on-eu-gaming-law.thtml?utm_source=daily-snapshot&utm_medium=newsletter&utm_campaign=daily-snapshot


New igaming records expected - Finance Minister

Monday, March 29, 2010

This year was likely to be another record year in terms of investment and injection from the igaming industry, Finance Minister Tonio Fenech said this morning. Addressing some 150 delegates at the sixth World Gambling Briefing 2010, being held in Malta for the first time, Mr Fenech said that when compared to other jurisdictions Malta fared very favourably because of its seriousness in its regulatory approach, its business friendly measures, the talent pool which the Maltese market attracted, its cost of labour and its disposition of embracing technology and financial attractiveness. With around 350 remote gaming licences out of the 600 applications processed by the Lotteries and Gaming Authority in the past six years, Malta was proving that serious regulation and stringent supervision offered the ideal conditions for remote gaming companies to operate in. The strong regulatory framework, coupled with Malta’s expertise in the gaming industry put the country’s jurisdiction on the forefront in this industry, the minister said. He said that as part of its technology friendly outlook, Malta was looking into the sphere of digital gaming in all its shapes and forms. Last October the government initiated the articulation of the national strategy for the development of the digital gaming industry and it was being anticipated that further global digital game developers would be investing in Malta in the next two to three years. Mr Fenech said that notwithstanding the positive growth in Malta with 5,200 people directly employed in the industry, including 3,400 with the remote gaming industry, Malta was not ignoring the developments on the EU front. Besides the work being done by the permanent representation in Brussels, the LGA, over the past year, established a fully dedicated EU affairs function to ensure that gaming was fair and transparent to the players as well as to prevent crime, corruption, money laundering and protect minor and vulnerable players. source: www.timesofmalta.com


Speech by Hon. Tonio Fenech, Minister of Finance

Monday, March 29, 2010

Speech by Hon. Tonio Fenech, Minister of Finance, the Economy and Investment, during the World Gambling Briefing 2010. - Wednesday, 24th March 2010, Hilton Hotel, St Julians. Good morning. Distinguished guests, Ladies and Gentlemen. It is a privilege for me to be opening the World Gambling Briefing 2010 and it gives me great satisfaction to see such a prestigious event being organised here in Malta. This demonstrates that the Maltese Government’s strategy in strengthening the gaming sector has been successful and has long been bearing fruit. When the Remote Gaming Regulations were published in April 2004, we were aware that by opening up the market to cyberspace gaming, we would have to face many challenges that lie ahead. However we were confident that by following socially-sound principles, by having a strong, yet flexible technology, neutral legal framework, and with the ongoing cooperation of all parties concerned, we could overcome most obstacles and face these challenges with a high degree of success. Looking back, what has been accomplished over the past six years, is indeed remarkable. Now remote gaming has become one of Malta’s most active industry niche sectors, registering continuing year-on-year growth and putting Malta in the lead as one of the most prestigious European Tier-One jurisdictions for remote gaming companies and players. Malta has embraced the online gaming revolution with vigour and vision whilst offering one of the most progressive environments in the world for online gaming activities. With around 350 remote gaming licensees in Malta, the industry is proving that serious regulation and stringent supervision offer the ideal conditions for remote gaming companies to operate in. History has taught us, that the risk of not regulating by far outweighs any other risks. A well-regulated gaming industry has been our safest bet for success. Thus, we believe that the strong regulatory framework coupled with Malta’s expertise in the gaming industry has put our jurisdiction on the forefront in this industry with some of the world’s largest remote gaming companies being licensed in Malta. The advantages of operating within an efficiently regulated system are numerous, and Malta rapidly and incrementally reaped the benefits of the vision it had, and still has for this industry. The reasons for this are various, and primary among these is the role played by the strong regulatory regime which however is also business-friendly. This offers operators a stable and secure framework in which to carry out their business whilst consolidating their reputation as licensed by a responsible jurisdiction. The reasons for this are various, and primary amongst these is the role played by the strong regulatory regime which however is also business friendly. This offers operators a stable and secure framework in which to carry out their business whilst consolidating their reputation as licensed by a responsible jurisdiction. Comparing Malta with other jurisdictions which regulate online gaming we believe Malta fairs very favourably because of our seriousness of its regulatory approach, its business friendly measures, the talent pool which the Maltese market is able to attract, cost of labour and its disposition of embracing technology and financial attractiveness. This is why gaming operators continue to invest in Malta, where 2010 is anticipated to yet again be a record year in terms of investment injection from the igaming industry. Regulation is imperative to protect both players and operators alike. The advantage of a licensee domiciled within a robust regulatory regime like Malta is consumer trust. As operators know full well, consumer trust can make or break a business. In a virtual environment, with intangible geographic boundaries, customers want to feel adequately safeguarded before parting with their money. Back in 2004 when Malta became a full member of the EU, Malta was the first EU Member State to adopt specific regulations for remote gaming. The Remote Gaming Regulations, as part of the entire legislative framework, are in line with the principles enshrined in the EU Treaty. Malta’s membership in the EU allows us to build robust systems to monitor and supervise operations, and such a benefit was used in full by Malta, whereby we not only looked at having a strong remote gaming regulatory framework, but as part of our regulatory approach, we also placed special care in ensuring that the principles of other key EU directives, such as the third Anti-money laundering and anti-terrorism funding directive were infused in our regulatory approach. .The well thought-out methodology in this regard also created one of the key ingredients in Malta being viewed as an enviable base for quality. However, having a strong regulatory regime was not the only ingredient which induced gaming operators to invest and feel comfortable in operating from Malta. Over the past decade, my Government implemented a forward looking strategy insofar as establishing the pre-requisites to be amongst the world leaders in the information society. Malta swiftly embraced the advent of the ‘e’ revolution and invested heavily to place Malta as an ‘e’ society in all senses. To do so, we facilitated investment in the technology infrastructure, whereby Malta is now connected to mainland Europe through three different service providers, using four sub-marine cables. We invested heavily in our educational system at all levels, starting from primary schools which are equipped with broadband in each class; to the tertiary levels, - with the University of Malta and other colleges, academies and institutes offering an incredibly wide array of information technology related studies. We invested heavily in eGovernment Services, whereby Malta has been ranked at the top of EU Countries with respect to eGovernment Services offered to both citizens and the business community. We invested heavily in promoting the eBusiness environment and we were amongst the first to enact a suite of Cyberlaws. Such a forward looking approach was, and will, continue to be the flag-bearer philosophy of my Government, as we do not simply believe in the benefits that technology can bring to society and the economy, but we truly act swiftly on such a belief. For instance, as part of our technology friendly outlook, Malta is now also looking into the sphere of Digital Gaming in all its shapes and forms. Last October, I announced that my Government initiated the articulation of a National Strategy for the Development of the Digital Gaming Industry, whereby it is anticipated that further global digital game developers shall be investing in Malta over the coming two to three years. Our ‘e-Ready’ approach convinced global technology giants such as Microsoft, Oracle, IBM and Tecom to establish themselves in Malta. Such an approach also convinced global service providers such as Deutsch Bank, Lufthansa Technik, and SR Technics to invest and operate from Malta. Such an approach convinced more than 250 iGaming operators to establish an operational presence in Malta. Over the past six years the Lotteries and Gaming Authority has processed over 600 applications for a remote gaming license. The industry further triggered the need for highly skilled resources, and as such, the remote gaming industry evolved into contributor of job creation and to date around 5,200 people are directly employed in the gaming industry: 3,400 of whom are directly employed with the remote gaming industry. Notwithstanding the positive growth still being registered in Malta, the developments occurring on the EU front cannot, and are not, being ignored. My government is not only attentively monitoring the various developments but also putting forward its opinions in the various fora which our EU membership allows us to be represented in. We are taking these issues very seriously and in fact, besides the work being done by our Permanent Representation in Brussels, the Lotteries and Gaming Authority has, over the past year, established a fully dedicated EU Affairs function. May I also express my gratitude to the many stakeholders who approach us with their views on such issues as well as those concerning our regulatory regimes. I can assure you that the Government understands that this industry, due to its very nature, evolves continuously and we need to keep abreast of the developments. In this way, we will remain in a position to maintain that we can “ensure that gaming is fair and transparent to the players, prevent crime, corruption and money laundering as well as protect minor and vulnerable players.” Over these two days, you shall be discussing various points of interest which relate to the industry in its global sense. Having a quick look at the attendees and list of speakers, it would be a safe bet to place that the debate shall be stimulating, challenging and rich of diverse and opposing opinions. This, I believe is healthy for the industry. I believe that my Government has established a story of success in regulating this industry, and is a showcase for other jurisdictions to visit, and possibly replicate. I thank you once again for inviting me for this Word Gambling Briefing and I’m sure that this event will be very productive for all stakeholders. DOI – 24.03.2010


AGA is now “open to the concept” of legalizing online poker

Monday, March 29, 2010

The American Gaming Association is now “open to the concept of legalized internet gambling,” the association’s president and CEO Frank Fahrenkopf told Card Player in an interview this week. The new position marks a significant change for the powerful lobbying group that had previously remained neutral on the issue. “We now believe that internet gaming can be properly regulated so long as there is a tough regulatory framework that is put in place,” said Fahrenkopf, a former Republican National Committee chairman during the Reagan years who has been with the AGA for all its now 15-year history. “We would be open to looking at legislation that’s out there to see whether or not it provides the consumer protections that we think are so important.” The AGA, which actually opposed all forms of internet gambling “on the grounds that [they did] not believe the technology exists to properly regulate it with law enforcement oversight” as recently as just over a decade ago, has some of the most powerful casino companies in the world amongst its members — including Harrah’s Entertainment, MGM Mirage, and Las Vegas Sands Corp. Fahrenkopf said the change in the AGA’s internet gambling policy was made at a board meeting earlier this month, and that it was a result of the association’s new requirements of what is needed in order to create an official lobbying position for the AGA. Previously, the AGA needed a unanimous consensus from its board of directors to create an official stance for any issue. In December, however, it decided to change that threshold to 75% of quorum. There are currently 11 members on the board of directors. “It is difficult with all these companies, with their own culture and their own views,” said Fahrenkopf, who acknowledged that while the new language of the AGA’s position may not seem definitive, it represented a notable policy shift from where the AGA has been. “We’ve actually come a long way.” The AGA, citing a lack of available technology to properly regulate the industry, initially came out against all forms of online gambling after Senator Jon Kyl first introduced a bill in 1997 that would’ve outlawed internet gambling. That position changed, however, after MGM decided to open an experimental gambling website on the Isle of Man in September 2002. They only allowed a few countries to gamble with real money, and they banned all others, including the United States. As a result of MGM’s site, the AGA came out in support of a 2007 bill proposed by Representative Shelley Berkley and former Representative Jon Porter that would have studied whether or not the appropriate technology did, in fact, exist to regulate online gaming. However, that bill never made it off the ground in the House of Representatives. “The markets crashed. And the final six months of the last legislative session, nothing was done except to figure out how we were going to save the banks and the system,” said Fahrenkopf. So rather than relying on a Congressional study, Fahrenkopf used the muscle and the research ability of the AGA itself to investigate the major issues concerning online gaming. He formed three working groups that AGA members participated on to research three critical issues: Whether or not the technology really existed to properly regulate; whether or not the legalization of internet gambling would lead to the cannibalization of brick-and-mortar businesses; and, whether or not the regulatory licensing and control should be done at the federal level or by the states. After a couple of months of research, the groups came back with their findings for the December 2008 AGA meeting. “The first committee reported that in their opinion and through the work that they had done, the technology does now exist. It’s being effectively done on off-shore sites regulated by places like the Isle of Man and Gibraltar, so the systems and the technologies are there to regulate it,” said Fahrenkopf. The second working group also came to a consensus. “In regards to cannibalization, the guesstimates were at that time that between us$ 7 billion – us$ 10 billion was being wagered by Americans on the internet despite the existence of UIGEA, and therefore if there was any cannibalization, it was already taking place,” said Fahrenkopf. “And with most of the brick-and-mortar businesses, particularly the big companies, the business dynamics had changed dramatically and less than 50% of the bottom line was coming from gaming anyway, with restaurants and retail, etc. So they didn’t feel like [legalizing it] would be a cannibalization.” As for whether or not regulation should be done at the federal or the state level, that was the one major area where members couldn’t come to an agreement. “We had Harrah’s and a number of others who were very strongly supportive of internet gambling and particularly the Barney Frank legislation at that time (which would provide a federal framework), and then you had MGM and another bunch of companies who were in favor of internet gambling, but thought it should be regulated at the state level,” said Fahrenkopf. With this disagreement, along with gambling entrepreneur Steve Wynn’s “vehement” opposition to online gaming, the AGA couldn’t form an official stance. As a result, the association was neutral on all online gaming issues. “The net result was that we reached deadlock,” said Fahrenkopf. However, with the new 75% of quorum rule in place for creating policy positions, the AGA decided to officially change their stance in regards to online gaming this month. “We are open to the concept of legalized internet gambling, so long as there is a regulatory regime that is put in place that protects the consumer and protects the integrity of the game. We’re at this point in time open to the question of whether it’s a federal or state regulatory regime, although I must tell you I think a majority of the board would favor the states. But until we have something that we’re really going to look at, we can’t get to that question,” said Fahrenkopf. The AGA remains neutral on the Barney Frank bill, citing the uneasiness amongst its members on whether or not it should seek a federal or state framework for online gaming. Fahrenkopf did say that it was possible that the association could jump on board in support of the Frank’s bill if it started to make significant progress and if they thought that was the right thing to do for the industry, but he offered doubt that anything would be done in this legislative session due to the calendar constraints and lack of working days that are available in the remainder of this legislative session. Besides addressing the concerns that some of his members have with the Barney Frank bill, Fahrenkopf also discusses the AGA’s position on UIGEA and why he thinks that law will be necessary, as well as Steve Wynn’s current thoughts on online gaming and what Harry Reid’s reelection bid means for the gaming industry in his interview with Card Player. Yogonet.com / Card Player


PartyGaming, Bwin Face Tough Rules as European Gambling Expands

Monday, March 29, 2010

By Matthew Campbell March 24 (Bloomberg) -- Bwin Interactive Entertainment AG, PartyGaming Plc and William Hill Plc, the companies with the biggest shares of Europe’s online gambling revenue, and their competitors may face higher costs as the expansion of that 8.3 billion-euro market comes with new regulations. French senators have approved regulations that will grant online gambling licenses to foreign companies, ending a ban. Denmark may do the same, and Italy is opening its market in stages. Germany’s prohibition faces a challenge at Europe’s highest court. Companies moving into the expanded markets face tight restrictions. Building operations that can comply with new regulations in multiple countries requires a minimum investment of about 1 billion euros ($1.4 billion), said Norbert Teufelberger, co-chief executive officer of Vienna-based Bwin. “This opening up of the market may not be as attractive as PartyGaming and Bwin say,” Martin Oelbermann, director of MECN, a Munich-based consulting firm, said by phone. “Are we really getting more betters, or are we going to get the same clients as before, but now we have to pay taxes on them?” Europe’s online gambling industry is the world’s largest. Among publicly listed companies, Bwin has the largest European market share by revenue with 8 percent, followed by Gibraltar- based PartyGaming with 6.3 percent and London-based William Hill with 4.5 percent, according to 2008 data from Barclays Capital. ‘Offshore’ Markets Online gambling in “offshore” markets, in which some companies may have customers in countries with official bans, expanded more than 10-fold between 2003 and 2010 to about 6.5 billion euros, according to figures from H2 Gambling Capital, a Manchester, England-based consulting firm. That growth will slow to 13 percent through 2012 as more countries permit gambling, H2 said. Regulated onshore revenue will climb 37 percent, to 5.11 billion euros. PartyGaming’s 2009 revenue was $446.2 million, the company said March 4, while William Hill reported 203.5 million pounds ($305 million) in sales from its online division last year. Bwin’s 2008 sales were $488.5 million. Gambling-industry associations and companies have called for more open markets since online betting became popular in the early 2000s. Efforts to open markets have suffered court setbacks, and more cases are pending. Changing Minds “What has happened lately is that some of the toughest opponents have changed their minds,” Petter Nylander, the chief executive officer of Unibet Group Plc, said in an interview in London. French rules endorsed by the Senate require companies to establish separate sites for French clients and provide permanent records on players to the government, while prohibiting some kinds of betting. Full prohibition “has never functioned, because gambling has always been part of our history,” then French budget minister Eric Woerth told the Senate on Feb. 23. “The absence of state regulation would lead to untenable situations for players and their families.” The Remote Gambling Association, which represents operators, in January said it was considering suing France to push for more expansive rules, citing “restrictions which are disproportionate” and disadvantageous to foreign companies. ‘Tough and Expensive’ “Companies have got top lawyers in each country, figuring out how to comply,” Simon Holliday, the director of H2, said by phone. “It becomes tough and expensive.” Some companies, including Paddy Power Plc and PartyGaming, are teaming up with national gambling monopolies. Paddy Power, Ireland’s biggest bookmaker, in November said it would help manage online betting for France’s Pari Mutuel Urbain. PartyGaming in January signed a similar agreement with Denmark’s Danske Spil A/S. “While costs will vary, regulation in the market is a good thing,” John Shepherd, a spokesman for PartyGaming, said by phone. “The conditions have to be workable, but they also have to conform with the treaties” of the European Union, he said. Bwin has already incurred “significant” costs to prepare for the opening, Teufelberger said. David Hood, a William Hill spokesman, declined to comment. The European Commission, which has pushed national governments to legalize online gambling under market-access rules, will help determine the shape of regulations, said Sigrid Ligne, the secretary-general of the Brussels-based European Gaming and Betting Association. Much will depend on the direction taken by new internal market commissioner Michel Barnier, she said. Legal Setbacks Bwin in September lost a challenge to Portugal’s state gambling monopoly at the European Court of Justice, the EU’s highest court, which ruled that restrictions may be justified to combat crime as long as they aren’t discriminatory. Barnier left the door open to commission action against member states to force open gambling markets, telling the European Parliament on Feb. 11 that the Portuguese decision “does not fundamentally change the evolution and evaluation of infraction procedures.” In addition to a case against German laws at the ECJ, Ladbrokes Plc and Betfair Ltd. have challenged Dutch rules. In December an advocate-general said in a non-binding opinion that the Netherlands doesn’t have to recognize their claims. Governments are “trying so hard to find a way to define this as a special industry in order to keep the revenues coming,” William Hill general counsel Thomas Murphy said at a conference in January. “This issue is not going to go away.” --Editors: Kristen Hallam, Anthony Aarons


Las Vegas is preparing for legal online casino gambling

Monday, March 22, 2010

It has been speculated that the Nevada Gaming Control Board is now creating rules to govern the land-based casino operators once the federal government regulates the online gambling industry and gives the green light to Nevada legislators, which would then permit Las Vegas casinos to legally offer gambling over the Internet. They want to make sure that all of the rules and regulations in Las Vegas and the rest of Nevada are up-to-date. Once online casino gambling is legal within the United States, the land-based casinos will rush to enter the new market. The NGCB wants to make sure that the same rules and protections are in place for online gambling that protect land casino operators, their employees, and patrons in the state of Nevada. The casino operators in Las Vegas have been able to advertise free casino games because online gambling is legally a grey area in Nevada. While there are strict guidelines when it comes to advertising the casinos in Las Vegas, the laws are unclear when it comes to online gambling and advertising over the Internet. The NGCB as well as government legislators plan to draft rules and regulations for the online gambling industry. Yogonet.com / Casino News Authority


Ky. Supreme Court rules in Internet gambling case

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Kentucky Supreme Court has ruled that the owners of Internet gambling operations need to show up in court if they don''t want the state to seize the domain names of their Web sites. Justices ruled Thursday that trade groups like the Interactive Gaming Council, which hired lawyers to fight the state''s action, don''t have standing to represent the owners of gambling Web sites. In 2008, the Beshear administration sued in Franklin Circuit Court to give the state control of 141 gambling Web site domain names in an attempt to restrict Kentuckians'' access to them. The justices did not address that issue in Thursday''s ruling.


Italy online bingo back on after court suspension rejected

Friday, March 12, 2010

Online bingo in Italy is legal again following the reversal of a regional court's decision to suspend laws regulating the game. It means that online operators can continue to offer the game until a verdict has been reached after the hearing on 23 March. As reported on EGRmagazine.com, online bingo was launched in Italy at the end of December 2009, but was suspended last month when the administrative court of the Lazio region ruled that the approval of the decrees regulating online bingo have been found not compliant with the formalities required by Italian law and cancelled the decree. However the Administrative Court of Appeal has ordered the temporary suspension of the Administrative Court of Lazio's decision, meaning that online operators can continue to offer the game until a verdict has been reached after the hearing on 23 March. Giulio Coraggio, a gaming lawyer at the Italian arm of law firm Lovells, said: “The online bingo decree has been subject of considerable complaints from minor bingo operators which risk to lose a considerable number of players to the benefit of major operators like Gioco Digitale, that in the first months of 2010 raised more than 6 million euros through the offer of online bingo”. He added: "Equally, major bingo operators have already borne substantial investments for the launch of online bingo and cannot afford to lose them.”’ Italy is Europe's biggest egaming market, and the news will be welcomed by operators seeking to capitalise on investments in the bingo space in Italy. These include Playtech, which revealed it will target Italian bingo after the company bought UK bingo provider Virtue Fusion last month; Bwin, which bought Gioco Digitale in September 2009; Partygaming, which acquired Foxy-bingo owner Cashcade in July 2009; and Virgin Games, which aims to leverage Virgin's strong brand presence in Italy to market the company's games brand there after Virgin Games completed a two and half year platform build early this year. Yogonet.com / EGR Magazine


LGA insists EU principles of free movement reign supreme

Friday, March 12, 2010

LGA sponsors World Gambling Briefing in Malta later this month There appears to be no uniformity in the opinions on remote gaming passporting delivered by the European Court of Justice and Malta''s regulator maintains that the EU principles of provision of the free movement of services and freedom of establishment reign supreme. The Maltese jurisdiction is self-assured by the superiority of its regime and the international trust it enjoys, Lotteries and Gaming Authority chief executive officer Reuben Portanier told The Times Business. Paolo Mengozzi, the advocate-general of the European Court of Justice, decreed in an "opinion" a few days ago that European Union member states were not obliged to allow gaming firms to penetrate their territory just because they were licensed in another EU state. He was releasing his conclusions on seven cases referred by different German regional courts about the compatibility of German gaming rules with EU legislation. Mr Portanier said the LGA took note of Dr Mengozzi''s opinion that "the mutual recognition of national licences for games of chance is not viable as EU law now stands", but pointed out that the AG''s opinion was not binding on the court''s final decision. The chief executive pointed out that just a few weeks ago, the ECJ''s AG Yves Bot opined in the Winner Wetten case that German gaming legislation in one of the country''s regions constitutes a restriction to the freedom of movement of services. "Hence, it would appear that there is no uniformity in the opinion''s being delivered," Mr Portanier said. "The LGA will attentively follow developments before commenting and reacting further." On Monday, AG Mengozzi''s opinion was described as a blow to Malta''s burgeoning remote gaming sector which adds up to around 10 per cent of the global industry. Mr Portanier insisted that in the absence of any harmonisation on gaming laws at EU level, "Malta argues that the principles enshrined in the EU treaty, namely the provision of the free movement of services and freedom of establishment, reign supreme. An opinion issued by one of the ECJ''s AGs does not have any legislative standing and it cannot be interpreted as being a new legislative development in this area." Asked for the LGA''s view on Dr Mengozzi''s opinion that offshore and extraterritorial licences granted by Malta and Gibraltar distorted the mutual trust between member states, Mr Portanier said Malta''s remote gaming industry boasted advanced regulation. "The Remote Gaming Regulations of 2004 ensure that Malta''s regulatory regime is based on the provision of gaming services in a fair, responsible, safe and secure manner," he said. "The implementation of this is maintained through robust and comprehensive systems, mechanisms and continuous interventional monitoring. This also ensures the actual compliance with these regulations. "The LGA seeks to ensure that the three main pillars of gaming are secured: The fair delivery of the game to the player, the protection of minors and vulnerable persons as well as keeping gaming free from fraud and money laundering. Malta''s regulatory regime is recognised by the Commission as one of the most advanced in the EU." The LGA believed that it had adopted the best possible measures to ensure that other member states and their regulatory authorities were able to trust the regulatory regime in place. Mr Portanier pointed out the authority enjoyed very good relations with other European regulators in this field. Information is continuously exchanged on regulatory issues, including best practices. This, Mr Portanier insisted, was clear testimony of the trust other European regulators had in our jurisdiction. Meanwhile, the LGA is gearing up for the World Gambling Briefing at the Hilton Malta on March 24 and 25, of which it is the lead sponsor. "The World Gambling Briefing is an important event in the international industry calendar bringing together regulators, operators and service providers discussing topical issues related to the industry," Mr Portanier said. "This year, in Malta, global leading industry players will not only be discussing matters related to EU issues, regulation, and state protectionism versus open markets, but will also be delving into issues of importance like as responsible gaming." A long list of experts has confirmed attendance, among them members of European gaming boards and delegates from several associations, and executives from firms including Betfair, Dragonfish, Betsson.com, Stanleybet, Bwin, Interwetten, 888.com, and Ladbrokes. A host of international and Maltese legal experts will also participate. Delegates will be addressed by the LGA chief executive and Finance Minister Tonio Fenech. Joanna Ripard source: http://www.timesofmalta.com


Online gaming speculation ‘can only harm the industry’

Friday, March 12, 2010

It appears that there is no uniformity in the opinions being delivered by European Court of Justice Advocate Generals in relation to online gaming companies and their compatibility with EU law, The Malta Business Weekly has learnt. Contacted by this newspaper following the opinion published recently by Advocate General Paolo Mengozzi, the Finance Ministry said that Malta will attentively follow developments before commenting and reacting further. This slams reports on other sections of the media published this week referring to the opinion of AG Mengozzi as “a blow to the online gaming industry”. On 4 March, AG Mengozzi delivered his opinion on a number of cases in which German courts had asked the ECJ to rule on whether the laws on games of chance in Germany were compatible with EU law. In this opinion, AG Mengozzi said that “the mutual recognition of national licences for games of chance is not viable as EU law now stands”. Explaining his view in detail, AG Mengozzi believed that a Member State may prohibit, under certain conditions, games of chance on the internet and may provide for a state monopoly on sports betting even if those games are actively promoted and if games involving a greater risk of addiction may be offered by private operators. The opinion was communicated in a press statement issued by the European Court of Justice. It noted, as it does with every other opinion, that the AG’s opinion is not binding on the European Courts of Justice. The role of the Advocates General was to propose to the Court, in complete independence, a legal solution to the cases for which they are responsible. Court judges then deliberate on the cases and hand down judgements at a later date. In its comments, the Ministry explained specifically that “this is an AG’s opinion and is not binding on the final decision to be taken by the Court”. Meanwhile, another European Court of Justice Attorney General, Yves Bot, opined on 26 January in the Winner Wetten case, that German gaming legislation in one of Germany’s regions constitutes a restriction to the freedom of movement of services. It noted a conflict between a rule of domestic law and a directly applicable community provision. The task of the national court was therefore to ensure the application of Community law by refusing to apply the rule of domestic law. The Finance Ministry said that, therefore, there is no harmonisation of EU laws in this sector. “Hence, Malta argues that the principles enshrined in the EU treaty namely the provision of the free movement of services and freedom of establishment reign supreme,” it said. The Malta Business Weekly asked whether Malta will be affected in any way, since a multitude of foreign remote gaming companies set offices in Malta in recent years, after being attracted by government incentives. They are paying millions of euros in taxes to Malta. “Speculation can only harm the industry, hence we will be following developments attentively before commenting further,” the Ministry said. “It is important to take note of the recent proposal made by European Commissioner responsible for the Internal Market and Services, Michel Barnier, to the European Parliament that is, the tabling of a Green Paper to act as a consultation document in the field of online gaming.” Malta will argue its case during these discussions. Similarly, in a brief comment on the matter, the Lotteries and Gaming Authority said it was not opportune to speculate on cases which still need to be decided upon by the ECJ. However it was monitoring and analysing all communication and developments. Meanwhile, a major remote gaming operator said the gaming market in Europe has been facing uncertainty for some time with conflicting viewpoints being expressed. While pointing out that the company was not about to take decisions on the back of single opinions, it added that ECJ had yet to take decisions. by Annaliza Borg source: http://www.maltabusinessweekly.com.mt


Italy bingo back on after court suspension rejected

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

ONLINE bingo in Italy is legal again following the reversal of a regional court's decision to suspend laws regulating the game. As reported on EGRmagazine.com, online bingo was launched in Italy at the end of December 2009, but was suspended last month when the administrative court of the Lazio region ruled that the approval of the decrees regulating online bingo have been found not compliant with the formalities required by Italian law and cancelled the decree. However the Administrative Court of Appeal has ordered the temporary suspension of the Administrative Court of Lazio's decision, meaning that online operators can continue to offer the game until a verdict has been reached after the hearing on 23 March. Giulio Coraggio, a gaming lawyer at the Italian arm of law firm Lovells, said: “The online bingo decree has been subject of considerable complaints from minor bingo operators which risk to lose a considerable number of players to the benefit of major operators like Gioco Digitale, that in the first months of 2010 raised more than €6m through the offer of online bingo. "Equally, major bingo operators have already borne substantial investments for the launch of online bingo and cannot afford to lose them.”’ Italy is Europe's biggest egaming market, and the news will be welcomed by operators seeking to capitalise on investments in the bingo space in Italy. These include Playtech, which revealed it will target Italian bingo after the company bought UK bingo provider Virtue Fusion last month; Bwin, which bought Gioco Digitale in September 2009; Partygaming, which acquired Foxy-bingo owner Cashcade in July 2009; and Virgin Games, which aims to leverage Virgin's strong brand presence in Italy to market the company's games brand there after Virgin Games completed a two and half year platform build early this year. source: www.egrmagazine.com


UK's remote gambling regime to be reviewed

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

In April 2009, the UK Minister for Sport announced that in response to the "rapid technological advances in online gambling", the UK Government was going to explore a range of measures to ensure that British licensees were competing on a level-playing field with their overseas competitors. The DCMS said at the time that the Government would be looking to make the regulatory system fairer for UK licensed operators, but would also be working with the Gambling Commission on a number of issues such as recouping regulatory costs, obtaining funding for research into problem gambling in the UK and contributions to the Horserace Betting Levy (the annual fee which is collected from bookmakers and used to support the horseracing industry). Whitelist operators who were advertising their services in the UK were singled out in the announcement as under the current system they benefit from a regime which allows them to advertise in the UK if they are based within the European Economic Area, Gibraltar or in one of the jurisdictions included on the Whitelist. Inclusion on the Whitelist also means that operators do not pay any levy on horseracing bets or wagers. Fast-forward to the Minister for Sport''s latest Written Ministerial Statement, which is now promising consultation on changing the existing system of remote gambling regulation in Britain "so that all operators who want to target British consumers must be licensed by the Commission". The Minister acknowledged that despite the fact that British gamblers constituted one of the largest customer bases for online gambling in the UK, "increasingly few companies active in the British market are now regulated by the Commission". In order to ensure the "protections" in the Gambling Act 2005 are applied, legislative reform is therefore being considered to ensure "all operators active in the British market adhere to the Gambling Act, its secondary legislation and the Commission''s standards and requirements". Operators who are active in the British market and who target British gamblers will, according to the Minister, be obliged to "report suspicious betting activity to the Commission and UK sports bodies, as well as comply with the Commission''s software testing, age verification, self exclusion, technical standards and social responsibility requirements bringing a more consistent level of protection for British consumers". The stated aim of these measures is "to ensure the protections in the Gambling Act: to keep gambling crime free, to ensure gambling is fair and open, and to ensure that children and vulnerable people are protected from harm, continue to be afforded to British consumers". In particular, it remains to be seen how the UK Government intends ensuring that the above-mentioned measures can be directed towards those online operators active in the British market who are targeting British consumers, given the nature of the Internet and EU rules which require businesses to conduct trade and services openly and freely across EU Member State borders, including services rendered on the Internet. The recent landmark ruling delivered by the ECJ in Santa Casa v Bwin may have boosted the UK Government’s confidence that imposing such measures is consistent with EU law in the field of online gambling. In this regard, subject to the conditions set out in Santa Casa v Bwin, the application of the freedom to provide services in the field of online gambling has to be mitigated to a certain extent: a case-by-case assessment must be carried out in light of the conditions set out in the above-mentioned ruling. At this stage, the question of tax revenue from any changes is not being discussed. Source: Yogonet.com / GamingLaw.eu


Spain will create a State Agency to regulate online gaming

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

According to a document ellaborated by the Department of State of Finance and Budget for the future gaming law, in the following months a State Agency will be approved with the aim to regulate the online gaming market, which lacks of regulation and licenses to operate in Spain. On top of establishing the regulation of the different games of chance, the functions of this new State Agency will be to call to tenders, grant the operating licenses, homologate the technical systems used and solve the claims from participants against operators. However, the main thing according to this document, is that this new regulator will have power of control and capacity to “take measures to prevent illegal gaming, especially in the frontiers.” This way, it will be able to block the illegal activity, financial transactions and advertising campaigns. In the document, it details the following very serious infringements: “The development or promotion of illegal gaming, the manipulation of technical systems, loans to participants, the manipulation of the results of bets and to facilitate technical support to illegal operators”. Online gaming moved in Spain 350 million euros in 2008, according to the Spanish Association of Internet Bettors, a number that is very far from the 10,048.25 million collected by State Lotteries and Gambling (LAE). Yogonet.com / El Economista (Spain)


Legislation filed to regulate online gambling in Florida

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

It has long been rumored that the state of Florida could be one of the first in the nation to regulate online gambling. On Friday, Representative Joseph Abruzzo filed the Internet Poker Consumer Protection and Revenue Generation Act of 2010. The legislation outlines a fully regulated system of online gambling in the state. If approved by lawmakers, Florida would be the first state to use rules from the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 to help regulate Internet gambling. The UIGEA was put in place by US lawmakers back in December 2006 with the intent of ridding the country of online gambling. In the years that have followed, the industry has grown instead of shrunk. One area of the UIGEA allows for states to lawfully regulate and conduct intrastate Internet gambling, such as poker. Abruzzo''s legislation, which was filed Friday, takes advantage of that clause. The Bill filed Friday would allow for Internet hub operators to run the online poker sites. In order to gain a license, hub operators would have to be chosen by the state, and some strict guidelines are outlined. First, the operator would have to have a business license in Florida. Second, they would have to be licensed in one or more US states. Next, the operator must be licensed to offer online poker in a country outside of the US. If those stipulations are met, an application fee of us$ 500,000 would be paid to the Pari-Mutuel Wagering Trust Fund of the Department of Business and Professional Regulations. If approved, the licensee would then have to pay a us$ 1,000 annual license fee. Once the online poker site is set up, there are also strict rules in Abruzzo''s proposal. The minimum gambling age would be twenty-one, and safeguards against any form of money laundering must be in place. The Internet hub operators must also fully insure the all software being used is up to regulation standards. Safeguards for players have been one of the main reasons that Representative Barney Frank has proposed legislation to overturn the UIGEA. Currently, millions of people in the US are gambling online at sites that are not regulated by the government. In Florida, any licensee would have to ensure that the player is protected not only against fraud, but also against themselves. Gambling addiction is one of the top problems for lawmakers looking to expand, and Abruzzo has covered that in his Bill. The Internet hubs must put limits on how many deposits and how much a player can deposit each day. In addition, a limit must be placed on how much a player can lose in a set amount of time. A time limit on how long a poker player can play in one session will be required as well. The percent of taxes on the winnings is always another issue that lawmakers grapple with when creating gambling laws. In the Internet Poker Consumer Protection and Revenue Generation Act of 2010, Abruzzo has laid out a plan for twenty percent of the winnings each month to paid in taxes. Whether or not the legislation filed Friday passes or not will depend on lawmakers'' ability to see the future potential and reconcile their differences on the Internet gambling issue. One thing that is certain, however, is that Rep. Abruzzo has covered all of the bases that typically get these type proposals thrown out, paving the way for Florida to become the first state in the US to regulate online gambling. Yogonet.com / Casino Gambling Web


StanleyBet to challenge French deregulation

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Leading fixed-odds betting firm StanleyBet International Limited is set to challenge the legality of changes to the law governing betting in France after authorities failed to respond to an application it made for a sportsbetting license. The Liverpool-based operator stated that the changes ‘disregard’ the single market principles of the European Union, which also ‘enshrine consumer choice’, because ‘bricks and mortar operators are prevented from entering the market’. StanleyBet, which operates over 1,700 outlets across Europe, revealed that it applied to authorities in June for a license to operate in France but has yet to receive an answer. “The French state’s desire to push forward its online gaming bill has left us with no option but to challenge these plans before the Council Of State,” said John Whittaker, Chief Executive Officer for StanleyBet. “It is a myth that the French market is set to open as the majority of betting will remain firmly and monopolistically in the hands of Francaise Des Jeux and Pari Mutuel Urbain with only online betting, which represents approximately three percent of the value of the total market, being freed up. “European Union law is designed to give the consumer choice and we challenge France to open its market truly and give the French consumers the choice that they deserve and to which they are legally entitled.” StanleyBet revealed that its cross-border business model had been endorsed by the European Courts Of Justice in both the Gambelli and Placanica rulings, which resulted in the opening up of the gaming markets of Italy and Denmark. “We have no doubt that, like the Italian courts, the French legal system is respectful of the rule of law and we are fully confident that the Council Of State will deal with our claims in earnest and impartially and do what is right,” said Whittaker. Yogonet.com / Igaming Business


Iowa may legalize online gambling

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Some lawmakers are looking to make online gaming in Iowa a reality. If that happens, it would become the first state in the country to allow in-state Internet wagering. Right now about 50,000 Iowans already play online gambling, but they do it illegally. There are a lot of sites out there and at the click of a few buttons players can win or lose they''re hard earned money. Some lawmakers say making it legal and regulating it would be safer and will also bring some extra money to the state. "Here''s an opportunity for us$ 11.5 million a year for an activity that''s already going on in the state where Iowans have exposed themselves to significant risks," said State Representative Doug Struyk, a Republican from Council Bluffs. Thousands of Iowans are taking a gamble right now by participating in illegal, and online gambling through poker tournaments that are often off-shore and unregulated. But Struyk and other Iowa lawmakers want to provide a better way for those people to place a bet, and also for the state to get a piece of the pot. "You actually have to go to one of the 17 casino''s in Iowa. You have to make a cash of debit card deposit," said Struyk. At places like Rhythm City Casino, or Isle of Capri, people would deposit between us$ 50 and us$ 500. Then players can an access online account from a computer in Iowa to play poker. All the money would flow through the casinos and stay in the state. Some cities, like Davenport, may even get a piece of the profits, depending on who holds the gaming license. "It''s good in that aspect and the money that the RDA, who hold the licenses, pump into the local is economy is great too," said Davenport Alderman Bill Boom. However, Alderman Doom and other Iowans are worried making online gambling legal would cause more issues for people who already have a gambling problem. "I think there would have to definitely be a lot of regulation with something like that. It would definitely lend itself to addiction more easily than something like a riverboat casino," said Anne Gindelsparger. "I do know somebody who has developed an online gambling problem, doesn''t need to leave the house to go to the casino. It''s so easy to just click, click, click and then there''s a problem," said Ellie Bonis. The player would only be able to access their account from an Iowa Internet address. If the player wins from behind the computer screen they would have to go to the casino to collect their money. The online gambling legislation is in the drafting stages right now. If it moves all the way to approval the system could go online as early as next year. Yogonet.com / KWQC


EU law allows for bans on foreign online gambling operators

Thursday, March 04, 2010

European law allows countries to ban the promotion of online gambling sites based abroad, according to an advisor to the EU''s highest court. An Advocate General to the EU''s Court of Justice has advised judges at the Court that a Swedish law banning foreign internet gambling sites from operating there does not violate EU law. The EU was founded on the principle of free trade across its borders, but allows some restrictions to that trade to apply. Sweden bans the promotion of online gambling based outside of its borders, and also bans the operation of any lottery not licensed by it. Two newspapers ran adverts for online gambling and lottery sites based in the UK and Malta on their sports pages. Otto Sjöberg was editor in chief and publisher of Expressen and Anders Gerdin was editor in chief and publisher of Aftonbladet. The two men were found to infringe Swedish betting law and fined 1,000 Swedish Krona, about 100 euros a day for 50 days. They appealed against the ruling and the Stockholm Court of Appeal asked the Court of Justice if Swedish law was in line with EU law. Yves Bot is an Advocate General, a legal advisor to the Court who issues an opinion on a case which can then be followed by its judges or ignored. He has said that Sweden is entitled to ban foreign-based online gambling because it had a good reason to do so. "The prohibition on promoting internet gaming offered by companies established in other Member States can be regarded as justified by the objective of the fight against fraud and criminality," said a Court-produced summary of the advice. The full advice is not available in English. "Community law does not preclude Swedish legislation which reserves the right to organise gambling only to licensed operators which carry on their activities under the strict supervision of the public authorities," said the summary. Bot said, though, that while the basic principle of Sweden''s law did not run counter to EU rules, the way it penalised infringements did. "While a Member State is entitled to restrict activities associated with gambling within its territory, the measures which it adopts for that purpose must not be discriminatory," said the summary of his findings. "In the present case, although Swedish legislation prohibits, without distinction, the promotion of gambling organised abroad and the promotion of gambling organised in Sweden without a licence, the penalties laid down for infringement of that prohibition are different." The law could only comply with EU laws if those who operate foreign gambling operations and those who operate domestically without a licence are punished in the same way, the advice said. This prevents discrimination against foreign-based operations, it said. "Whereas penalties of a fine and imprisonment for up to six months are laid down for persons who advertise gaming organised abroad, those who advertise gaming organised in Sweden without a licence do not incur equivalent criminal penalties, but only administrative penalties," said the summary of Bot''s opinion. "Therefore, such legislation involves treating comparable situations differently, to the detriment of companies established in other Member States." "That difference in treatment could not be justified by significant differences between the two categories of offence in terms of the disruption caused by them or the conditions under which they may be found to have been committed," it said. "Internet gaming organised by a company established in another Member State does not necessarily pose greater risks of fraud and crime to the detriment of consumers than gaming organised clandestinely by a company established within the national territory." The Court of Justice had previously ruled that Italian practice barring companies whose shares were traded on regulated markets from operating online betting were in line with EU law. The Court said that the law was not and that it restricted the fundamental freedoms guaranteed by EU law. Yogonet.com / IT Pro Portal


Online gambling: Can and must be regulated

Friday, February 26, 2010

Michel Barnier, Internal Market Commissioner of EU, was urged by a number of MEPs to come up with common rules to regulate cross border online gambling in Europe. In a debate on 11 February many MEPs were concerned about the effects of gambling on minors, addiction and money laundering. With gambling being a €70 billion industry in Europe, online firms are hoping to break into this market. This has brought tension and the European Court of Justice has upheld the right of nations to regulate online gambling. The tension between the EU''s internal market and the right of national regulators to monitor the trade lies at the heart of the legal confusion over online gambling. At present no rules on online gambling exist. Several countries have tried to ban cross-border online betting and the European Commission launched proceedings against them for flouting internal market rules. However, the court''s decision to uphold a case where Portugal banned a company based in Gibraltar has shaken things up. Speaking in the debate Michel Barnier promised a "new approach" with a Green paper on possible policy options by the end of the year. The debate was in response to an Oral Question tabled by five MEPs led by the Chair if the Internal Market Committee Malcolm Harbour. Speaking in the debate, the British Conservative said, "it is absolutely the right time for the Commission to be coming out with a clear strategy". He went on to say that online gambling "can be regulated and must be regulated". However, Harbour stressed the importance of giving people the right to choose: "We must also respect our citizens and the fact that many of them want to access online gambling" so "it can''t be right to ban online gambling with a company from outside your own country". Andreas Schwab of the European People''s Party called for "uniform cross-border solutions at the European level". The woman who steered the services directive through Parliament in 2006, German Socialist Evelyne Gebhardt called on the Commission to stop "quite improper" infringement procedures. She said "member states should not be forced to open market up if their controls are strong and effective and we want the Commission to finally understand this". For the Greens, Heide Ruhle said that European rules should respect "European specificities". "These are not services just like any other" Yogonet.com / News from European Parliament


Operators welcome new EU market commissioner's Santa Casa view

Friday, February 26, 2010

THE European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) comprised of bet-at-home, Bwin, digibet, Expekt, Interwetten, PartyGaming and Unibet has welcomed comments by the EU''s new Internal Market Commissioner Michel Barnier (pictured) offering hope for operators facing future legal battles with state gaming monopolies within the Union. Addressing members of the European Parliament earlier this month, Barnier said that the analysis of the Commission Legal Service regarding the European Court of Justice’s Santa Casa ruling of September last year in favour of the Portuguese monopoly does not fundamentally alter the Commission’s approach towards infringement procedures. The Commissioner said that the ruling was based on considerations specific to Portugal and to its national monopoly operator, and that the Commission will therefore continue to examine the compliance of national legislation with EU law on a case-by-case basis - meaning that the outcome of future legal battles between operators and monopolies over the right to compete for online gambling customers is not pre-determined. EGBA Secretary General Sigrid Ligné said: “With several Member States currently reforming their gaming and betting legislation, this is an important confirmation that the Commission will not stand by while Member States introduce restrictions that go against the fundamental principles of the EU. “We believe that the respect of Internal Market rules in our sector will promote high standards and improve the protection of players throughout the EU”. Barnier’s comments will have come as a blow to protectionists within the EU. Their hope was that the appointment of France’s Barnier, a close ally and political adviser to Nicolas Sarkozy, might have led to less of a free-market approach push than under Barnier’s predecessor, Charlie McCreevy. These include the rapporteur to the French parliament for the draft legislation on online gaming and betting, Lamour, who said he is "very happy" that McCreevy was leaving his post. Under McCreevy’s watch, the European Commission has decided against rules protecting state-backed gaming operators from competition in markets including France, Denmark, Hungary and Finland source - www.egrmagazine.com


MasterCard and Visa turn back on US online gambling

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Internet gambling in the United States is not, technically speaking, illegal, and players don’t face penalties for gambling online. Instead, current gambling law in the US targets banks and other financial providers that help US players to fund their online accounts. Under the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) of 2006, banks can face penalties for helping players to make deposits and withdrawals to online accounts associated with internet gambling. The UIGEA, however, is not actually in force. It was meant to come into action months ago, but its implementation was delayed. Despite this fact, banks are already taking action to prevent future legal trouble. MasterCard, and to a lesser extent Visa, have in recent weeks begun to pull away from the online gambling world in what appears to be a precautionary move. One problem MasterCard and its rivals are facing is that online gambling firms have a habit of re-coding financial information so it looks as if the transactions that are being processed have nothing to do with internet gambling. MasterCard has been hard at work investigating these situations, and are cracking down on such activities. While there is a good chance that American gambling laws will soon change and that online gambling in the US will become fully legal, it seems that major banks don’t want to take any chances. As a result of MasterCard’s apprehension, many online gambling sites that accept US players, including Doyles Room, Absolute Poker, and Bodog, have been forced to stop accepting MasterCard as a viable payment method for US players. In the meantime, a British company called UC Group Ltd. has announced the launch of SecureTrading Inc., a new electronic payment processing system that will be based in the New York area. It is being set up to service internet casinos and online poker sites in the United States. Yogonet.com / Gaming Zion


Norway passes Payment Act

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

In Norway, the proposed Payment Act legislation received royal assent last week meaning that it will soon be illegal to process unauthorized online gambling transactions in the Scandinavian nation. Despite protests that the legislation does not conform to European Union regulations, the new ban will make it illegal for online operators without a Norwegian license to process payments from players for remote gambling in the nation. The legislation could see violators charged with ‘accessory involvement’ in unlawful gambling, which means that financial service providers are being required to implement systems to accommodate the new ban. The new legislation will go into effect from the first day of June, which is also the same day America’s Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) payment ban is scheduled to be implemented. However, numerous online operators serving Norway including Betsson have stated that the new ban is not much of a threat and that they would ignore attempts that require them to police transactions. Although Norway is not a member of the European Union, it does belong to the European Economic Area. This allows it to enjoy some of the benefits of the European Union in return for abiding by the bloc’s internal market regulations. European Union law stipulates that member nations cannot impose domestic licensing if another member state has already licensed an operator. source - iGaming Business Newsline


Industry meets at Enada Spring 2010 to discuss Italy's VLT market

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Leaders to discuss the regulation, scope and opportunities associated with Video Lottery Terminals London 06, 2010 – As Italy's new VLT gaming market looks poised to become the largest VLT market in Europe, regulatory events agency Awedacity has announced that it is teaming with gaming exhibition leader, ENADA, to deliver a landmark forum examining the regulatory, technical and operational implications associated with this new market. The one-day event, "VLTs in Italy” comes at a critical time where there is still uncertainty about entry into the market, technical specifications and competition from point-of-sale ‘Totems' featuring poker and online casino games. The impending changes and impact on the industry make industry dialogue essential, according to Awedacity's director Julie Garvin. "VLTs in Italy will provide delegates with a full understanding of the latest regulatory and technical developments, along with emerging opportunities worth considering. This is a unique opportunity to have this discussion as part of the larger Enada Spring 2010 Show, held at Rimini Expo Centre.” With Italian and other European operators jostling for a share of the action from new and lucrative products to be made available towards the beginning of spring 2010, the schedule for the introduction of new VLTs is finally becoming clear. This very timely gathering will provide strategic and tactical insight for both Italian and international operators wanting to enter into or better understand this booming market. The ‘high-level' event will also consider questions of consumer protection and public safety, how server based gaming works and the techniques required when developing games on a new platform. It will outline the crucial role of the concessionaires and with concessions up for renewal in 2010, what it will look like for established players and new entrants keen on becoming the operators of the future. Ms Garvin says, "Whether you work for one of the concessionaries or you are looking to supply your gaming platform to them; whether you produce game software that runs on specific platforms or used to develop games for Comma 6a; whether you have already obtained a license to install VLTs in your shop or are looking to apply for one, this is the one gathering that it would not pay to miss.” The exclusive event will be held at Rimini Expo Centre, Italy on the 19 March, 2010. Further details about the conference are available at www.italyvltconference.com. Source: Awedacity


Spain on the list of EU nations with unresolved online gambling laws

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Spain is the latest nation to struggle to meet its EU obligations to fair and open trade regarding online gambling. The European Union was created to facilitate economic growth and trade among member nations by allowing them to form a single market which features efficiencies unavailable to countries facing tariffs and restrictions. But online gambling has been a service that many EU members have found difficult to regulate in a manner consistent with the European Treaty, and Spanish new gaming laws are a case in point. The basis for EU requirements is even competitive conditions, with members treating each others'' commerce as their own and without discrimination favoring domestic operators. But Spain''s gambling tax give breaks to players winning at lotteries and other gaming based inside the country. Foreign operators offering similar gambling games face their patrons in Spain being required to pay the full slate of taxes, giving players a big incentive to gamble at domestic sites. Spanish officials say the tax exemption applies only to organizations connected to charitable events and organizations. But the European Court of Justice ruled recently that foreign-based gaming companies with charitable links should then be afforded the same deal. Spain must now consider reworking its gambling law, or else risk infringement charges by the Court. However, the number of nations risking infringement penalties grows, as the EC wheels turn slowly. France, Germany and Italy all are under investigation for applying rules determined inconsistent with their online gambling requirements from the EU. Source: Yogonet.com / Online Casino Advisory


French casinos move to ban foreign online sites

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Four online gambling sites — two British — are facing court action by French casinos seeking to bar them from receiving a licence to operate in France when the Gallic market is liberalised this summer. Britain's Sportingbet and 888 Holdings are being sued along with Malta's Unibet and Bwin of Austria by three of France's biggest casino operators in a test case as Paris prepares to end a state monopoly on Internet gambling. Tranchant, Barrière and Joagroupe, which run a total of 104 casinos, say their online rivals have flouted the law by setting up French language sites to tout for custom in France without waiting for parliamentary approval. They told Paris Criminal Court that the online groups had ''violated French legislation in a deliberate and patent manner'' and called for licences to be withheld for two years. If the lawsuit is upheld by judges, the four Internet firms would find themselves at a notable disadvantage in a market thought to be worth hundreds of millions of euros a year. Licensed operators are likely to dominate since they will be allowed to advertise. But Maitre Martine Karsenty-Ricard, Sportingbet's lawyer, said the Paris court had no jurisdiction over companies operating outside France and urged judges to throw out the lawsuit. The case, which is likely to end Wednesday, comes two weeks before the French Senate is expected to back a bill authorising private online gamblers to apply for licences. The legislation has already been approved by the National Assembly, the lower house of parliament, and is likely to come into force in time for the French to bet on the World Cup. About 100 operators will apply for a licence, according to French government estimates, but only about half will receive one. They will have the right to take bets on racing, other sports and poker, but not on activities such as one-arm bandits considered by French officials to be dangerously addictive. The new operators will face high tax rates which critics say are intended to favour the two state-run firms which control the French market at present — Pari Mutuel Urbain (PMU), the bookmakers, and Française des Jeux (FdJ), the national lottery. An estimated 3 million French people already bet online with sites operating outside France. http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/industry_sectors/leisure/article7020757.ece


Italian Court refers sports betting laws to ECJ

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Throwing further doubt on the compliance of Italian sports betting laws with European law, Italian Supreme Criminal Court has questioned the regulatory framework that protects companies which were awarded licences under the Bersani tender in 2006, and has referred the case to the European Court of Justice for clarification. In its ruling, Italy’s Supreme Criminal Court (Cassazione) took the view that serious uncertainties of interpretation still remained about the breadth of freedoms of establishment and provision of cross-border services, as laid down by EC Treaty Articles 43 and 29. Cassazione questions whether those freedoms can be restricted by a domestic tender system issuing a number of concessions supported by police licences, in a situation where holders of previously issued concessions are protected but new entrants were being denied access to the market, and where competition is restricted because new concessions are prevented from locating premises within a certain distance of existing concessions. The court also asked whether those freedoms can be restricted where a concession can be forfeited with a consequent demand against financial guarantees and bonds, if the concession holder was also engaging in cross border activities similar to those operated under the concession. “We have long been concerned about the erroneous perception that Italy’s legal framework for sports betting, as a result of conducting the Bersani tender in 2006, was open and compliant with EC law,” said John Whittaker, CEO Stanleybet, Europe's leading cross-border retail sports betting company. “We welcome this decision by Cassazione to adjourn legal actions and to refer to the European Court of Justice to seek a final resolution. Other countries seeking a model on which to base their laws must look elsewhere than Italy. “We are particularly delighted that after disruptions going back over 10 years, Cassazione recognises that our business has a unique legal position, quite distinct from other foreign companies which operate in Italy without permission and which have sought to take advantage of Stanleybet’s efforts to achieve justice over the years.” Yogonet.com / Gaming Intelligence


Online gaming boom experienced at IGE 2010

Thursday, February 18, 2010

IGE 2010 further proved that the online gaming market has experienced remarkable growth over the past few years. There was another increase in the number of online exhibitors at the exhibition and this year saw The Betting Show incorporated for the first time. The stands remained consistently busy throughout the three days, with companies receiving a high number of quality leads for potential new business. The market has recently seen operations from a number of amusement companies and land-based casino branch online. Mazooma MD Tony Oliver spoke to intergaming at the show about the gaming firm''s new phase as a digital content provider to bookmakers and online casinos. "This will provide incremental revenue for the group," said Oliver. Besides, Daniel Prone from Data Electronics in Dublin said that new legislation will more than likely be introduced into Ireland as soon as April this year, bringing about a massive boost to the Irish economy. There was also talk at IGE that online gambling in the US will become legalised within the next 18 months. Vice president of marketing at racing2day.com, Mark McGuinness, sadi that online bingo is likely to be introduced to the market first. "Bingo is seen as a softer form of gambling as opposed to the likes of poker." Additionally, several companies commented that the Italian and Latin American markets have the most potential right now. Yogonet.com / InterGame Online


Ireland to follow UK sports betting reforms

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Following in the footsteps of their UK counterparts, the Irish government is set to introduce a series of gambling reforms that will help generate more money for the Horse and Greyhound Racing Fund. Currently betting shops across Ireland are subject to a 1% tax rate and this also applies to online sports betting sites. The Irish government, however, is now upping this rate to 1.5%, a move which is expected to generate an additional 90 million euros for the sports betting economy in the country. Increasing the tax rate for the offshore sports book will hopefully prevent many of the land based bookies in Ireland from having to close their doors. The Horse and Greyhound Racing Fund has had a 13% reduction in government funding since 2008 with more being promised for 2010. This essentially means that without the hike in tax rates the sports betting industry in Ireland could be on the brink of a collapse. Mary Upton, a Labour spokesperson, commented recently that: “Online operators who are not based in Ireland but who are providing a service to Irish customers and who refuse to register and pay the betting levy will be blocked by Irish internet service providers, upon the direction of the Government.” She was also insistent that the increase would not affect the online casinos operating in Ireland. Yogonet.com / Gambling Online Magazine


Internet provides next new frontier for US gaming

Thursday, February 18, 2010

More than three years after the passage of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, restrictions on Internet gaming are facing crucial tests in 2010, with federal, state and tribal governments making moves that will have a significant impact on the future of the US gaming industry. “We expect that state lotteries – which have proven their revenue generation abilities and settled their online payment concerns – will lead the next wave of U.S. development toward regulated online gambling in 2010.” Gambling Compliance’s ‘Market Barriers: US Internet Gaming’ is the most comprehensive and impartial analysis of the emergent U.S. market available. The report provides a clear understanding of the current political and legal factors in play as federal and state officials plot moves towards regulated Internet gaming. As states across the country face mounting deficits and falling tax revenues, new analysis shows that legislators are looking beyond land-based casinos and racinos, and towards the benefits of expanding online gambling. “There is clearly a recognition by some leading policymakers that expanded online gaming offers tremendous potential to state governments,” said Andrew Gellatly of Gambling Compliance, one of the report’s authors. “We expect that state lotteries – which have proven their revenue generation abilities and settled their online payment concerns – will lead the next wave of U.S. development toward regulated online gambling in 2010.” Since it was banned in 2006, Internet poker has continued to gain popularity in the U.S., and Gambling Compliance expects that it could come out ahead of sports betting and online casino games as the regulatory dust settles. The new study issued today demonstrates how key players from across the U.S. gaming sector – from state lotteries in Illinois and New York, to horse racing interests, to Las Vegas casino giants such as Harrah’s, Wynn and MGM – are all positioning themselves ahead of an online opening, and how they are each lobbying to influence change at both the state and federal levels. However, the Las Vegas casino industry remains divided over the wider fiscal implications of federal regulation. This is despite the fact that its leading players are arguably best positioned to take advantage of extending their brands onto the Internet. While the opportunities of expanded online gambling remain attractive to some states and tribal interests, further legalization of online gaming in the US depends upon satisfying the financial needs of the relevant legislators, state governments and gaming interests. Yogonet.com


ECJ: No exception to the primacy of EU law over national gaming legislation

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) welcomes yesterday’s opinion of Advocate General (AG) Bot in the betting case involving German firm Winner Wetten (C-409/06) accepting bets on behalf of an online betting service provider based and licensed in Malta, before the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU). The opinion confirms that the primacy of EU law over national gaming legislation does not allow for any exception or transitional period. AG Bot dismissed the argument of Germany and other Member States that they should be allowed to have such an exception. Member States therefore have to immediately stop applying national gaming legislation that is not consistent with EU law. This case involves Winner Wetten, a company located in Germany, accepting bets on behalf of an online betting service provider based and licensed in Malta. The Court in Cologne asked whether governments are allowed to continue to apply for a transitional period gaming legislation that is not compatible with the freedom of establishment and freedom to provide services provisions in the EU Treaty. The Cologne court considered North Rhine-Westphalia''s law on sports betting in force in 2006 to be inconsistent with the freedom to provide services as interpreted in the Gambelli ruling. AG Bot clarified that there are no legal arguments to allow for an exception to the direct application of the Treaty to the gaming and betting sector. In addition, AG Bot confirms that it is not in the interest of consumers to maintain non EU compliant legislation that does not offer consistent and systematic protection. According to AG Bot, such ''legislation is itself inappropriate for the protection of consumers''. Secretary General Sigrid Ligné comments: “This opinion is crucial for developments in Germany. The AG has made clear that EU law prevails and that unjustified restrictions are not admissible even for a transitional period. Today’s opinion will further fuel the current political debate on online gaming in Germany”. Sigrid Ligné further adds: “We agree with the conclusions of AG Bot.Essential is AG Bot''s confirmation that it is detrimental to consumers to have national gambling legislation that doesn’t offer consistent and systematic protection. Many Member States do not have consistent and systematic gambling legislation; this opinion clearly strengthens our argument.” A date for the ruling of the CJEU has not yet been set. Yogonet.com


ECJ Preliminary ruling procedures Betfair / Ladbrokes: Advocate-General Yves Bot continues

Thursday, February 18, 2010

ECJ Preliminary ruling procedures Betfair / Ladbrokes: Advocate-General Yves Bot continues to fight in favour of gambling monopoly – a losing battle? By Attorney-at-law Dr. iur. Michael Hettich and Attorney-at-law Andrea Stumbaum, Hambach & Hambach law firm. Advocate-General Yves Bot did not let down the monopolists in his final opinions on the Dutch preliminary ruling procedures. As expected, the final opinions on 17 December 2009 followed the previous example of his final opinions in the proceedings C-42/7 (Liga Portuguesa) on 14 October 2008. Again they were clearly to the detriment of transnationally active gambling providers, in this case UK-based companies Betfair (case C-203/08) and Ladbrokes (case C-258/08). Extensive parts of the final opinions, in particular the portrayal of the coherence complex, were delivered in the familiar strict style of the Advocate-General Yves Bot, who has been well known for his etatist attitude at the very least since proceedings C-169/07 (Hartlauer), C-171/07 and C-172/07 (Doc Morris II) and C-42/07 (Liga Portuguesa). A critical observer might wonder whether the outcome of the final opinions and judgments in the field of gambling law that are expected blow on blow in 2010 depend on the uncertainty of the assignment of actions (allocation of a neutral Advocate-General), which paradoxically turns it into somewhat of a "game of chance". I. Analysis of the final opinions Only one month after the hearing on the 12th of November 2009, Advocate-General Yves Bot announced his final opinions on the Dutch preliminary ruling procedures. There are certainly differences between the questions submitted for decision in the two proceedings, but this did not stop them from being heard on the same day, with both final opinions announced together. A common factor in both proceedings is the question whether the freedom to provide services requires mutual recognition of licences for operations of games of chance between the member states. Also, in both proceedings the affected parties are operators based in the UK wishing to offer games of chance in the Netherlands through the internet. Both Betfair and Ladbrokes are unable to obtain a licence for this purpose from the Dutch authorities, as Dutch gambling law only provides for one licence for a single operator in the respective gambling sector. Providing the current licence holders have shown themselves to be reliable and law abiding, there is no possibility of the respective licence being transferred to a different company. It will always be extended. In proceedings C-203/08 (Betfair) a main point raised in the submission was this intransparent licensing process, as well as the regular extension of the term of existing licences. In contrast, the questions in proceedings C-258/08 (Ladbrokes) queried, amongst other issues, the compliance of Dutch gambling regulations with the principle of coherence required under European law. Decisive is in particular whether the fact that the respective licence holder advertises his gambling operations, even though the Dutch gambling regulations aim to reduce and control gambling addiction and to prevent fraud, complies with EU law. Yves Bot explains his responses to the questions submitted as follows: 1. Coherence of gambling law regulations Regarding the issue of coherence, Yves Bot adopts entire paragraphs taken from his arguments in his extensive final opinions on proceedings C-42/07 (Liga Portuguesa). This is surprising, as the ECJ made it clear in its judgment on that particular case that it disagrees with Yves Bot''s approach. For instance, in margin numbers 58 to 60 of the final opinions, the Advocate-General continues to draw particular attention to the opening of the gambling market "not being a source for progress and development” and that gambling could only work if players "lose more than they win". In his opinion, competition between service providers might incite "households to spend more funds than available for amusement". These approaches cannot be found in the ECJ''s established practice on gambling, and will yet again in this case not be included in the judgment, as it would deliberately undermine the freedom to provide services. Due to the wording of the questions referred the same applies to proceedings C-258/08 (Ladbrokes). There, the assumed premise is that "the aims pursued with the national regulations, that is, restraint of gambling addiction and fraud prevention are achieved as a result of the regulated gambling range keeping the extent of gambling much more limited than would be the case without the national regulating system." The question of coherence is strictly limited to verification whether permitting the licence holder to make his offer more attractive through the addition of new games and to advertise extensively would be consistent with the aims. Thus the referred question is so tightly worded that the ECJ is expected to take a stance only on that particular issue. In accordance with Yves Bot''s etatist attitude, his assessment regarding the extent to which gambling regulation has to be coherent favours extensive discretionary powers for the Member States. Here, his justification for the Dutch gambling regulations in relation to the aim of combating gambling addiction particularly contradicts the ECJ''s established practice. Where the suitability of a regulation for the prevention or reduction of gambling addiction is under scrutiny, any official gambling range that allows advertising is counterproductive and contravenes European law. In these cases the ECJ demands that the purpose of the gambling regulation is indeed to reduce the opportunities for gambling (compare C- 338/04 a. o. Placanica, margin number 53; C-243/01 Gambelli, margin number 62, 67; C-67/98 Zenatti, margin numbers 35, 36). Advertising however achieves the opposite. Yves Bot also contradicts the ECJ''s established practice in his final opinions when stipulating the allocation of the burden of proof regarding the question whether there is actually a risk that requires regulating. Here Yves Bot expressly contradicts both the Commission''s opinion and the principles declared in the judgment on proceedings C-42/02 (Lindman). He is of the opinion that even a "potential danger” of fraudulent activity during gambling operations is sufficient grounds for restriction of the freedom to provide services by the member state. This argument is reminiscent of the attempts made worldwide by conservative forces to limit civil liberties due to a fear of criminal offences, in particular acts of terrorism. Yves Bot supports his reasoning by entirely misapplying the ECJ''s rulings in the area of health protection. On the one hand, the area of health protection plays a special role as the ECJ has always strived for preventive protection of the highest level due to the importance of the legal objective to be protected. On the other hand, the proof of risk requirement also applies in the area of health protection. In margin number 30 of cases C-171/07 and C-172/07 (Doc Morris II), the ECJ simply declared that proof of the actual existence of these risks does "not have to be supplied in full". However, the Netherlands have not provided any proof to support the statement that there is a substantial fraud risk without a gambling monopoly. It is of crucial importance for the effective implementation of the fundamental freedoms that this invention by Yves Bot – a "potential danger” as justification for the restriction of the fundamental freedoms – is not reflected in the ECJ''s rulings. Otherwise every economic sector where there is a potential for fraudulent activity would become susceptible to arbitrary state monopolisation. The member states could monopolise services that are of economic interest, such as the entire insurance industry, as there is always a potential for fraud in that sector. This comparison makes it clear that the fundamental freedoms can only be of lesser importance if infringements can be justified by more than simply potential risk of fraudulent activity. 2. Principle of mutual recognition Yves Bot rejects the application of the principle of mutual recognition of licences between the member states in a non-harmonised area (such as that of gambling operations), in line with the decision in case C-42/07 (Liga Portuguesa). In this point the ECJ is in a sense forced to follow the Advocate-General in his decision, as it would otherwise find itself contradicting the decision of last September. 3. Principle of Equal Treatment and Transparency Requirement for the issuing of licenses Regarding the question whether under European law a certain degree of transparency and equal treatment should be ensured when a single licence is issued to a gambling operator by an official body, Yves Bot follows the ECJ''s established practice. Yves Bot also demands that the licensing authority must ensure a suitable degree of openness for the benefit of all interested companies. This opens up the public contract or the service concession to competition and facilitates auditing to verify that the licence issuing procedures were conducted impartially. In this point the Advocate-General clearly supports the position of the transnationally active providers Betfair and Ladbrokes. This does however only surprise at first glance. On closer inspection, this argument by Yves Bot completely correlates with his etatist attitude: From the final opinions it can be deduced that Yves Bot''s preferred scenario would be gambling operations conducted directly by an official body or at least conducted by an operator controlled by an official body, similar to a government department. This scenario would require no invitation to tender or other publicity of the granting of licences. Thus the impression is made that according to Yves Bot''s opinion, member states that have missed the chance to offer gambling through their own official bodies should also not benefit from the advantages of free licensing. Independent of speculations about Yves Bot''s motives, his remarks in the areas of equal treatment and transparency are in any case welcome. They take into account the basic principle of the freedom to provide services and the established practice of the ECJ. II. Prognosis in light of the hearing In the Dutch preliminary ruling requests Ladbrokes C-258/08 and Betfair C-203/08, the direction of the hearing on the 12th of November 2009 gave clear indications of the respective judges‘ priorities. The ECJ''s questions were mainly aimed at establishing whether monopoly companies appointed by official bodies and their regulation really do fulfil the aims in the general interest. Whenever one of the participants made a statement that might imply that the relevant monopoly system is based primarily on commercial interests or that these interests are covered up, there was extensive further questioning. Enquiries by presiding judge José Narciso da Cunha Rodrigues and judge Allan Rosas focused in particular on the legal structure in which the monopoly companies are organised. Further, the extent to which the licensed gambling companies are entitled to sovereign rights was queried. Once the responses revealed that even a private commercial American company acting fully in its own interests holds a licence, it became evident that at least some judges of the ECJ categorically reject such gambling regulation. Further, the representatives of the monopoly companies were unable to explain why, despite a directive to the contrary by the Ministry of Justice in 2004, the extent of advertising by the monopoly provider De Lotto was not reduced and total turnover was even increased in 2005. At the latest it was at this point where it became obvious that, considering the circumstances, some judges were disbelieving that under these circumstances a serious fight against gambling addiction was the primary aim. Generally the hearing left the impression that, unlike Yves Bot, the ECJ, whilst being in no way convinced that the Dutch gambling regulations have the public interests of fraud prevention and gambling addiction restraint at heart, was however able to recognise clear indicators that economic interest of the states play a major part. III. Conclusion and outlook To summarise, it should be noted that both the consistent practice of the ECJ as well as the judges‘ comments during the hearing indicate that the monopoly companies will continue to be denied a carte blanche for the uninterrupted accumulation of winnings under the cloak of potential risks. Where a differing opinion is held by Yves Bot, it is very likely that the ECJ will take a clear opposing stance by spring 2010 at the latest. Regarding the other upcoming preliminary ruling procedures in the area of gambling law submitted by German, Austrian, Swedish and Italian courts, there are grounds for hope that the Advocate-General''s final opinions will follow the jurisdiction of the ECJ in favour of transnationally active providers – unless the Advocate-General assigned is Yves Bot. Source: TIME LAW NEWS 1/2010 (www.timelaw.de) Hambach & Hambach Law Firm


South African online casinos law still under review

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Although South Africa passed a law legalizing online casinos almost two years ago, the gambling bill is still not in operation. Legitimate Internet casinos have already begun the application process, eager to begin operating. But, in the meantime, illegal gaming sites are sprouting up in huge numbers. Over a year and a half ago, South African lawmakers passed a bill to regulate and license online casinos in the country. But 18 months later, the gaming law has not been implemented, and reviews of the proposed gambling rules are still being conducted. Anti-gaming legislators have requested more time to study online gambling in the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Trade and Industry. Rumors are that the Gambling Review Commission will finally tender a report to the trade and industry minister by July. Legitimate Internet casinos have already begun the application process, eager to begin operating. But, in the meantime, illegal gaming sites are sprouting up in huge numbers. South African law allows for fines and prison terms for patrons of unlawful gambling sites. Players in the country respond by playing at foreign-based online casinos, exactly what the government wanted to avoid when it legalized online gambling. The National Gambling Amendment Bill has a number of different goals. By creating tight regulation for locally-hosted internet gaming sites, the government hopes to be able to maintain a grasp on local online gambling, while at the same time reducing offshore control over the internet gambling industry. Still, the delay on implementation of the Internet gambling regulations is likely to last a while longer. The Gambling Review Commission is expected to present their final report to trade and industry minister Rob Davies by mid-year. After this, the changes must still pass through both houses of Parliament, and then receive final approval from President Jacob Zuma. Site operators are also ready for the government to hurry up and get the ball rolling. Nomfundo Maseti, the Department of Trade and Industry's chief director of policy and legislation, says that several operators have already applied for licenses, noting “They can't wait forever.” Yogonet.com / Online Casino Advisory / Gaming Zion


Online Gaming and Betting: Barnier to take the lead

Friday, February 12, 2010

EGBA welcomes the commitment made by the newly appointed Internal Market Commissioner Michel Barnier to address the situation of gaming and betting at EU level. Addressing members of the European Parliament today, Commissioner Barnier confirmed that the analysis of the Commission Legal Service regarding the most recent European Court of Justice ruling (Santa Casa, C-42/09) does not change fundamentally the Commission’s approach towards infringement procedures. The Commissioner said that the Santa Casa ruling of 8 September 2009 was based on considerations specific to Portugal and to its national monopoly operator. The Commission will therefore continue to examine the compliance of national legislation with EU law on a case-by-case basis. Sigrid Ligné, Secretary General of the EGBA, comments “With several Member States currently reforming their gaming and betting legislation, this is an important confirmation that the Commission will not stand by while Member States introduce restrictions that go against fundamental principles of the EU”. She adds “We believe that the respect of Internal Market rules in our sector will promote high standards and improve the protection of players throughout the EU”. EGBA also strongly supports the Commissioner’s intention to engage in a broad consultation with stakeholders and to work on a political document, based on reliable figures and a clear diagnosis of the situation in Europe. The Commissioner raised the prospect of a Green Paper on gambling, a move which EGBA believes could offer a real opportunity to test the interest and support of the European Parliament and Member States for future EU harmonization in the sector. Source - EGBA Press release


Great news for Online Casino patrons regarding UIGEA Regulations

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

On Friday the US Treasury Department made a decision to delay the implementation of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act that was due to go in to effect on December 1, 2009. This new delay that has pushed the implementation of UIGEA Regulations back to June 1 2010 is a great relief for online casino patrons who were concerned about how they were going to receive their winnings had the Rules been enforced. This also helps online casinos that had been concerned about their ability to continue operations in the US market once the rules were enforced. Now, all eyes are on Representative Barney Frank, hoping that now he has enough time to overturn the UIGEA Regulations with the help of other lawmakers. On Friday Barney Frank made a statement saying "The Department of the Treasury and the Federal Reserve Board of Governor''s deserve a great deal of credit for suspending these midnight regulations promulgated by the Bush Administration which would curtail the freedom of Americans to use the Internet as they choose and which would pose unrealistic burdens on the entire financial community," Rep. Barney Frank made no secret of approval of the decision on Friday by the Treasury Department. He also spoke freely of a time when Internet gambling will be regulated in the US. "This will give us a chance to act in an unhurried manner on my legislation to undo this regulatory excess by the Bush Administration and to undo this ill-advised law." So for all online casino players who had been pulling all their funds from the online casinos; Stop! You no longer have to worry and can continue to play your favorite games without concern


Spanish Government to prepare a draft bill on Internet gambling

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

The Spanish Government will present next December -or at the begining of January- to the Autonomous Communities Councils a draft bill on gambling and Internet gambling.There isn’t any legislation on this respect currently even though some companies are operating in Spain through Internet for many years now. The presentation of the bill was announced at the Sixth Congress of the Game of Castile and Leon, which was held in Avila, by the General Technical Secretariat of the Ministry of Interior, María de los Angeles Gonzalez Garcia. As explained by Gonzalez, the draft bill will respect the competence of the Autonomous Communities and will include, among other things, the regulation on advertising and promotion of the gambling industry in order to protect consumers and minors. Some autonomous regions have already examined how to regulate online gambling.  For example, the Minister of Interior and Justice of Castilla y Leon, Alfonso Fernandez Mañueco, announced a forthcoming regulation for standard procedures for tickets raffle via phone, TV or Internet. This measure will join the Financial Measures Act 2010 that Castilla is preparing now. Yogonet.com / Spanish Gaming News


Poland Finalizes online casino Ban

Monday, November 23, 2009

The online casino industry has been faced with tough times, and now another sovereign nation has gone ahead with a ban against online casino gaming. Poland has ostensibly banned online casino gaming. Land gambling has also taken a hit following the gambling bans in Poland, leaving many venues out of previously had revenue. While some locations will still offer a form of gambling or another, most slot games and other forms of casino gaming have already been declared illegal. No future gambling options are to be expected. Poland has joined the ranks of the United States, Israel, Russia, India, and several other nations that, in one way or another, limit or prohibit online gambling. For Poland, this ban comes very shortly after a scandal that had gripped their upper echelon of government, leading to possible questions of whether or not this ban has been enacted to obfuscate the actual implications of scandalous nature. The European Union has recently filed motions with the World Trade Organization over the United State''s limitations against online gambling, so questions are being asked about whether this ban will remain consistent with the European Union''s overall stance on online gambling.Online gambling has once again proven to be a breeding ground of hypocrisy in government, according to the opinion of one lowly Internet reporter. Poland


UK online poker market to shrink this year

Monday, November 23, 2009

THE UK ONLINE POKER MARKET stopped growing in 2008 and will shrink this year, new research has concluded. After growth of 72% between 2004 and 2007, the British online poker market stagnated in 2008 at gross gaming yield of £265m, the study by market research agency Mintel has revealed, and will shrink by 7% to just £247m this year. The research attributed online poker’s tail-off in Britain to the economy, with almost a third of UK players saying they play less often or for smaller stakes due to the recession. Average spend per year among British online players has fallen by almost 20% in the past 2 years, down from £345 in 2007 to £281 in 2009. Mintel senior leisure analyst Matt King said: "Poker revenues have clearly peaked. The recession is the most obvious culprit, with around a third of poker players now playing less often or for lower stakes because of the economic downturn.” However the analyst added that other factors could also be to blame, includingrakeback promotions, which have proved controversial when used by affiliate sitesand were the subject of eGaming Review’s August cover feature. King added: “There may be other inherent problems that the industry has to address. Rakeback promotions, for one thing, are minimising margins and this shows the emphasis is on customer numbers, not the profit generated per customer. Lack of time is another factor impacting on play, possibly suggesting work pressures in the current recession are having a toll on players' free time." A drop-off in poker revenue has already been witnessed among operators such as888, where third quarter poker revenue fell 28% year-on -year and Cryptologic, which migrated its poker operation and customers to the Boss poker network last year. Despite declining revenues, the industry does boast a loyal UK customer base, however, with around a third of online players play once a week or more.


Dutch gaming monopoly to face ECJ Test today

Monday, November 23, 2009

British betting providers Betfair and Ladbrokes will take a step closer to resolving their respective disputes with the Netherlands government today over their right to provide betting services to Dutch citizens, when the European Court of Justice convenes to consider their cases. Betfair’s case (C-203/08) centres on the principles of the European Treaty, in particular, Article 49, which entitles the company to accept bets from the Netherlands because Dutch residents are allowed to bet online with the Dutch state operator. Betfair has previously stated that to be told it cannot accept bets without a Dutch licence, after twice being denied the opportunity to apply for such licence by the Dutch state, is "legally unsustainable". The legal proceedings began in 2004 and is separate but running in parallel with Betfair's complaint against the Dutch government's attempt to block financial transactions between Dutch customers and the online betting exchange. For Ladbrokes today’s case (C-258/08) represents another step in the bookmakers seven year battle against an injunction by the Dutch courts prohibiting it from accepting bets from Dutch citizens. "Ladbrokes is a well regulated, licensed betting and gaming operator and under Article 49 of the Treaty on European Union our services should be accessible in other Member States,” said John O'Reilly, Ladbrokes' Managing Director of Remote Betting and Gaming. “The injunction against Ladbrokes is aimed at protecting the revenues of the Dutch state monopoly sports betting provider and there is no justification for it in European Community law. It does not make sense that a Dutch citizen can cross the border into Belgium to place a bet in a Ladbrokes shop, yet we are banned from accepting bets from Dutch citizens online," he said. Betfair for its part has vowed to sue the Dutch government if its case is successful at the ECJ, estimating that the claim for damages could run into millions of Euro. While the two cases will be closely followed by those in the online gaming industry, judgements in the cases are not expected sooner than 6-12 months from today. Yogonet.com / Gaming Intelligence


Europe lacks in-depth problem gambling research

Monday, November 23, 2009

According to a new report on problem gambling in Europe, presented yesterday at the European Parliament, evidence suggests that the majority of European markets are lacking research into problem gambling, with only one third of countries undertaking national surveys on the subjectThe new report by Mark Griffiths, Professor of Gambling Studies at Nottingham Trent University, provides a country-by-country analysis of the known empirical evidence of gambling and problem gambling in Europe and highlights the gaps between Member States in carrying out gambling research, with countries separated into three different categories. Countries that have carried out national surveys on gambling and/or problem gambling of varying representativeness, quality and empirical rigour include Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Great Britain, The Netherlands, Lithuania, Sweden and Switzerland. Those that have carried out the same but at a regional and/or local level rather than a national level include Austria, France, Hungary, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain. There were also a number of countries where almost nothing is known empirically about gambling and/or problem gambling, such as Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Greece, Ireland, Latvia, Luxembourg, Malta, Poland and Portugal. According to the report, the majority of European markets are lacking in research into problem gambling of sufficient quality, consistency and breadth.The report was presented yesterday in the European Parliament by MEP Malcolm Harbour, Chairman of the Committee on Internal Market and Consumer Protection. "The debate about gambling is multi-faceted. Many reasons and interpretations are put forward as to why a particular State does or does not grant access to its market by operators from other Member States, be they online or offline, be they casino, betting or other type of gambling operator," said Adrian Morris, Deputy Managing Director of Stanleybet International, one of Europe''s leading cross-border sports betting operators. "I have become increasingly concerned that this debate is informed by little or no information and the argumentation seems to be based on myths appealing to emotion rather than facts informing reason and leading to policymaking. Unfortunately, to this day, it seems that emotion continues to overrule facts," said Morris. Yogonet.com / Gaming Intelligence


Online casinos may be the answer to gambling recession

Monday, November 23, 2009

The president of the American Gaming Association says his land-based casino membership may look closely at online casinos as an industry future when they meet in December. President Obama may be telling people the recession is ending, but representatives of the Las Vegas casino industry think it will take several years for recovery for gaming companies. The opportunities presented by online casinos may even force the most hardened opponents of Internet competition to examine the fix possible in accepting the new wave. Frank Fahrenkopf, Jr., president of the land-based casino organ American Gaming Association, told listeners at the Global Gaming Expo this week that he doesn''t believe optimistic comments that the recession is over. He said the slowing decline experienced over much of 2009 is not the same as increases, and added the return to gaming figures pre-recession may be as much as four years away. "Without a doubt, the gaming industry is facing a long road to recovery," Fahrenkopf said. But the low overheads and ready customers available to online casinos is drawing attention from greater numbers in the land casino business. Harrah''s has already prepared an online poker arm, using its World Series of Poker brand, to enter European markets in what many analysts consider a prelude to US activity. AGA membership had opposed online gambling for years, but Fahrenkopf has noted for over a year now that the organization has changed its stance to neutral, as groups like Harrah''s offset the hard-core rejection of Steve Wynn and others. Now Fahrenkopf says the AGA may take up the topic in December. AGA support for Barney Frank''s legislation to regulate online casinos may be the needed impetus to get Harry Reid behind the cause, giving the bill a real chance to pass. Yogonet.com / Online Casino Advisory


Malta Remote Gaming Council Survey on Staff Status and Salaries - 2009

Monday, November 23, 2009

The MRGC Board is pleased to inform you that the Malta Remote Gaming Council Survey on Staff Status and Salaries - 2009 has been completed. The results can be viewed in PDF format in our members area underneath the members resources section of the website www.mrgc.org.mt. For those members who wish to obtain a printed copy please refer to pricing list on website. For those non members who wish to purchase the Survey, please contact The Research Bureau directly on email address trb@maltanet.net. Best Regards Management Board MRGC


Bulgaria Gambling Industry to Shed 40 000 Jobs over Tax Increase

Monday, November 23, 2009

The gambling industry in Bulgaria is going to collapse because of the increase of the gambling tax approved by the Bulgarian Parliament on Wednesday. This has been stated Thursday by the Bulgarian Association for Entertainment and Gambling Games regarding the increase of the gambling tax from 10% to 12% (15% was also considered by the MPs.) According to the Association, instead of raised BGN 12 M of additional revenue, the tax increase is actually going to reduce state revenue coming from gambling because the industry has already seen a 40% slump over the economic crisis and will thus be dealt a new blow. The Bulgarian Association for Entertainment and Gambling Games states that some 40 000 people of the 80 000 jobs in the gambling sector might be made redundant as the industry starts to struggle because of the combined effect of the crisis and the greater tax. The Association has calculated that since the average salary in the sector is BGN 700, the loss of 40 000 jobs would translate into the loss of BGN 134 M in indirect taxes for the state budget. This figure is said to disregard the potential closures of gambling firms, smaller VAT and corporate tax payments. According to official data, the Bulgarian gambling industry had a turnover of BGN 700 M in 2007, and of BGN 1 B in 2008. www.novinite.com


Online gambling moves need traditional backing

Monday, November 23, 2009

While online poker companies and US gamblers have greeted this year’s proposed legalisation measures with enthusiasm, such efforts are unlikely to succeed without further support from traditional bricks and mortar casinos. The most recent important move by online gaming supporters in Congress came in August, when senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey introduced a bill that would exempt “games of skill”, which it explicitly defined to include poker, chess and backgammon, from gambling bans. Mr Menendez’s bill follows the introduction in the spring of a more sweeping attempt at legalisation and regulation by Barney Frank, a powerful House committee chair. Mr Frank has been swamped with financial regulation and other economic crisis issues but looks likely to get his bill at least to a floor vote. The Senate has long been seen as the trickier of the two legislative bodies to get through and poker lobbyists gave Mr Menendez’s bill a warm welcome. But while the senator plays a role in the Democratic leadership, he does not chair a relevant committee and has no co-sponsors for his measure. No hearings have been scheduled and that would ordinarily be the next step. Regardless of Senate procedures, the bottom line is that no legislation on internet gambling is going to become law without the consent of Senator Harry Reid, former Nevada Gaming Commission chairman, who as Senate majority leader is the most important man in the chamber. “I would agree that Harry Reid is critical to any gaming issue that is going to move through,” said John Pappas, executive director of the Poker Players Alliance. “We’re hopeful we can continue to educate him.” Mr Reid has not moved from his position, which is that internet poker would be too unwieldy to control, Jim Manley, his spokesman, said on Friday. “He’s still pretty sceptical about the ability to regulate online gaming,” Mr Manley told the Financial Times. Mr Reid is the Senate’s biggest recipient of donations from the casino industry and the bricks and mortar industry remains divided. Harrah’s Entertainment and MGM Mirage favour allowing some online betting, while Wynn Resorts and others are opposed. That split has taken the traditional companies’ American Gaming Association out of the fight. The Players Alliance acknowledged it would help if it could win support from others in the non-virtual side of the industry. Mr Pappas said positive sentiment would inevitably spread in Las Vegas as the companies realised that online poker was the “way of the future”. In the meantime, federal prosecutors continue to seize funds moving between gambling companies and their clients and occasionally to wrest guilty pleas from executives. And even the best-laid lobbying campaigns can backfire. David Carruthers, then chief executive of London-traded BetonSports, once wrote an op-ed piece supporting the US legalisation of sports betting, while his company secretly controlled the industry group the Offshore Gaming Association. The latter fact emerged only after his indictment. Mr Carruthers is due to be sentenced in about two months’ time.


German Internet casino ban may crumble internally

Monday, November 09, 2009

The German attempt to maintain the state gambling monopoly and bar foreign online casinos may crumble from within. The state of Shleswig-Holstein has promised to open its gaming market to private gambling operators, and withdraw from the agreement among German states to ban online casinos. The German State Treaty on Gaming united German states insupport of the national Internet gambling monopoly, claiming that doing so is the only viable means of protecting consumers. However, EU findings indicate the move is more financially motivated, protecting the state gaming system from licensed competition by EU online casino operators. Now, as Schleswig-Holstein becomes the first state to reject the federal reasoning, other states are rumored to be primed to follow suit and allow competitive online gambling in their borders. Opening the market to EU competition would relieve Germany of potentially costly infringement proceedings by the European Commission. And consumers across Europe are demanding that state protectionist blocks be removed to allow choice in online gambling systems. Even if some form of the monopoly is presently maintained, the State Treaty ends in 2012, permitting states to license online casinos freely after that point. Yogonet.com / Online Casino Advisory


Malta credits online gaming with 2,500 jobs

Monday, November 09, 2009

Malta''s Finance Minister, Tonio Fenech, spoke of the country''s unique market value for online gaming at the Malta iGaming Seminar. According to Fenech, the online gaming industry created 2,500 jobs in Malta in the past five years. A license granted by the country''s Lottery and Gaming Authority allows companies access to more than 400 million European Union residents. Malta’s highly regulated framework meant a license issued by the Lottery and Gaming Authority was seen as a seal of quality and trust, enabling more business to be attracted to sites operating under this regime. Operators, too, have contributed to creating this ‘trusted environment’ through their efforts to comply with laws and regulations, Fenech added, praising the local industry’s stakeholders for their initiative in organizing the seminar. With Malta focusing on being a high-quality jurisdiction, the iGaming industry continues to grow, attracting Tier-1 operators, over 500 licence applications in the past five years and creating over 2,500 jobs in the industry. Continuing on Fenech’s theme, LGA chairman Nick Xuereb said a further 2,500 jobs had been created indirectly with service providers, while the regulator’s policy is to find the right balance between having an open but properly regulated market and having the required checks and balances in place. “The two extremes are prohibition and a monopolistic situation,” he said, going on to give reasons for iGaming in Malta with attractions for both local firms and foreign players. A single passport obtained by an iGaming company enabled access to 400 million people in the EU. Malta offered a product-driven environment with a relative cost advantage, communication in English, and a safe and nice place to live. Xuereb confirmed there are currently 330 active licenses for iGaming companies, with 137 pending applications. A further 60 had been rejected or closed. Licenses issued by the LGA are considered internationally to be a seal of quality. Of the e40 million collected annually in taxes from the industry, the majority (42 % or 19 million) came from remote gaming, with the lottery games including Super 5 second on 30 %. The average age of those employed in the industry is young, with 37 %in the 20-29 age group. These have a graduate or post-graduate level of education. With a third of those being Maltese, the remainder come from 68 nationalities. He listed three limitations for growth: the economic impact of other markets, and infrastructural and HR factors. The LGA is addressing these issues by listening to and addressing the needs of individual remote gaming companies. It is seeking to enhance the legal and compliance teams within the authority while restructuring some of the ways it operates. Yogonet.com / The Malta Independent Online / AGA SmartBrief


Greece says to further suspend gaming tax

Monday, November 02, 2009

Greece said this week that it will extend the suspension of a new tax on gaming winnings and start talks on the measure, which had met strong opposition from sales agents of the country''s betting monopoly OPAP. The law, which slaps a 10 % tax on net winnings from OPAP''s games, was passed in July by the country''s previous conservative government and was due to go into effect on October 21 after a first suspension of one month. But the new socialist government, which won an Oct. 4 snap election, said it will put off the measure once again. ''The finance minister will as soon as possible submit to Parliament an amendment to suspend the problematic clauses on the taxation of gaming winnings,'' the Finance Ministry said in a statement. The ministry said it would soon begin consultations to seek a rational and fair solution on gaming taxation, but did not say whether it would reintroduce a tax-free threshold for lottery winnings, which OPAP agents are asking for. The taxation measure, which had been agreed in a bid to help contain Greece''s ballooning budget deficit, led to sharp losses in the company''s shares. Sales agents were concerned it would discourage punters from reinvesting their profit, hurting sales. Source - Yogonet.com / Reuters


Polish gambling industry reacts to government measures to limit gaming

Monday, November 02, 2009

“The Prime Minister shot himself in the foot,” Stanisław Matuszewski, head of the Association of Producers and Operators of Gambling Machines, said on Tuesday. He added that gambling in Poland will move underground into a “gray zone.” This followed an announcement by Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk, declaring war on gambling saying that the government has decided on a definitive cut on gambling. Deputy Finance Minister Jacek Kapica said that it will be hard for the gambling industry to move underground, however. “That''s impossible. It is difficult to hide such activities,” Mr Kapica said. If the government goes ahead and makes gambling illegal, that will pose a problem for the police, according to Mr Matuszewski. “The police, rather than chase criminals will be left to look for gaming machines. … 80 km from the [Polish] border in Slovakia a center similar to Las Vegas is being built. Alexander Lukashenko is building a similar center near Minsk in Belarus. And [the Polish industry ] descends underground. Is this normal?,” asks Mr Matuszewski. Source: TVN24- www.wbj.pl


Poland moves to ban gambling outside casinos

Monday, November 02, 2009

Poland''s Prime Minister Donald Tusk said Tuesday his government is drafting legislation to ban gambling outside casinos as well as Internet gambling and advertising for games of chance. We are proposing to ban a significant part of the gambling sector - Tusk told reporters in Warsaw,adding that draft legislation on the matter would be ready within two weeks. He said the draft aims to phase out the operation of so-called "one-armed bandit" slot machines and other low-wager betting machines outside casinos over the space of five years. - We want to see this market shrink by 20 to 25 per cent per year. Over the course of five years this kind of gambling should disappear from Poland - Tusk said. Internet gambling and advertising aimed at promoting gambling is also to be banned, he added. A government expert explained the Internet gambling ban would be facilitated by legislation permitting the monitoring of connections between Polish Internet providers and international gambling websites andonline money transfers. The proposed legislation also aims to introduce state concessions for casinos and higher gambling taxes as well as new taxes for the sector, the prime minister said. Tusk said the government''s new hard line on gambling aims at increasing taxation of the sector and at "limiting and if possible, rooting out" highly addictive forms of gambling threatening young people, including children. Gambling will be made illegal for individuals below 18 years of age, he said. Tusk was forced to sack several key ministers and political allies earlier this month over allegations of influence peddling within his cabinet regarding the new gambling legislation. The allegations were levelled by the now-sacked head of Poland''s CBA anti-corruption agency, Mariusz Kaminski, who has never disguised his antipathy towards Tusk''s liberal Civic Platform and his support for the conservative opposition Law and Justice party of President Lech Kaczynski.


Hungary to regulate online poker

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

On top of the celebration of top-level events such as Unibet Poker Open or European Poker Tour, it is a fact that the number of online players keeps on growing, and Hungary already counts with one of the highest rates of internet players. The state does not hide its interest to take advantage of this reality and has decided to regulate Internet poker. According to the new law that will soon be in force, online poker has the status of a game of chance, so it is part of the games in which the state has exclusive rights. In Hungary, there are two of the most important European associations that aim to defend the rights of poker players. The Hungarian Poker Association and the Hungarian Gambling Association will try to slow down the bill, which, if approved, would stop one of the favourite activities for Hungarians, because, from 10 million inhabitants, 140,000 admit that hey are online poker players. Yogonet.com / Web del Juego


Online gambling ban in Germany could be overturned

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

GERMANY''S ONLINE GAMBLING ban is under threat after one of the 16 German states that ratified the treaty underpinning the ban demanded its cancellation at the weekend. The agreement between the ruling coalition Christian-Democratic Party (CDU) and the Liberal Party (FDP) in Schleswig-Holstein, the northernmost of Germany’s 16 Lander, was published on Saturday and called for an end to the German Interstate Treaty on Gambling and its replacement with new regulation. The leader of the FDP and the coalition in Schleswig-Holstein, Jürgen Koppelin, said that if the other German states failed to agree on a new uniform regulation to replace the Treaty, which came into force on 1 January last year, the coalition would seek to introduce an intrastate licensing system. German gaming lawyer Martin Arendts of Arendts Anwalte said that “the argument that only a monopoly can protect customers, prevent problem gambling and guard against fraud would not hold any more,” which would undermine the monopoly position of the other German states. Although the coalition is only reported to have commented on the potential impacts of such a move on the land-based gaming industry in the state, such as privatising state-owned casinos, Arendts told EGRMagazine.com that any new licensing system would necessarily have to apply to online gaming and betting, all forms of which except horse race betting are currently banned. The European Gaming and Betting Association has consistently argued that the protectionist monopoly position of Germany’s Interstate Treaty on Gambling contravenes European Union law under Article 49 of the Treaty of Rome by restricting the rights of its members, such as Bwin and Unibet, to provide online gaming services. Arendts also highlighted that Schleswig-Holstein only ratified the Interstate Treaty on Gambling in December 2007 for “fiscal reasons,” having previously favoured a separate Interstate Treaty on Sport Betting that would have provided licenses for private bookmakers. A failure by all the German states to ratify a new regulation by 1 January 2012, when the existing treaty expires, would also render the current state gambling monopoly unenforceable. Source : www.egrmagazine.com


Regulation of online gambling in Norway

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

At present all forms of interactive gaming via electronic channels are prohibited in Norway. However the state controlled monopolies Norsk Tipping and Norsk Rikstoto may allow for players to participate in their terrestrial gaming activities via the internet. Prohibition/criminalisation of payment transfers from Norway to overseas gaming sites In December 2008 the Norwegian Parliament enacted the bill proposal from the Norwegian Government regarding a prohibition on processing of payments from Norway to non-licensed remote gambling sites. The activity encompassed by the bill is the processing of payments to remote gambling sites without a Norwegian license, classified as an unlawful accessory involvement in the holding and mediation of non-licensed gaming. The prohibition is anchored in Gaming Law and not Financial Law. Entities comprised by the bill are Norwegian credit card companies, financial institutions and other entities assisting the transfer of payments for remote gambling from gamblers in Norway. The legislative aims are to create an obstacle for remote gambling from Norway, strengthen national supervision of the domestic gaming market, limit evasion of Norwegian gaming law as interactive gaming, casinos and poker are prohibited in Norway. The bill is reasoned upon Norway being an attractive market for the remote gaming industry as a high proportion of Norwegians have access to the internet, entailing a significant increase in remote gambling from Norway. There are also indications of growing social problems and concerns that remote gambling represents a serious risk to public health. A proposal containing more detailed regulations regarding the prohibition was sent for public consultation and notification in April 2009. This period has now expired and it is expected that both the bill and the regulations will come into force during the course of autumn this year.


Russian officials concerned over “surrogate” gambling

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Officials in Russia have expressed concerns over the proliferation of “surrogate” gambling technologies such as online casinos and slot parlours three months after an almost total ban on land-based casinos came into force in the nation. “We are seriously concerned about the rise of surrogate technologies,” Sergei Baidakov, Deputy Mayor for Moscow, told The Associated Press. “They are the by-products of imperfect legislation.” Baidakov stated that about one-third of Moscow''s 525 casinos and slot machine halls had opened ‘lottery parlours’ selling instant tickets while the number of Internet cafes providing access to online gambling resources has risen three-fold since July. Gambling has been confined to four far-flung special zones since early-July following the enactment of legislation proposed by then-President Vladimir Putin. Despite the loss in taxes as the industry readjusts, Baidakov stated that the nation’s budget had suffered little with revenues down 0.5 %. “It''s nil compared to the benefits to the health of the nation,” said Baidakov. Moscow lawmaker Inna Svyatenko said city and Federal authorities would close legal loopholes that allow online gambling and the unrestricted sale of lottery tickets. Yogonet.com / Igaming Business


Press release: FDP calls for reform of the Interstate Treaty. Experts in the fields of add

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Conference of FDP parliamentary party leaders, 3 September 2009 in Berlin The discussion on reform of the gambling market was reignited at the conference of FDP parliamentary party leaders, who this time cast their sights abroad. International experts in the fields of addiction research, economics, gambling regulation and law came together on Thursday in Berlin for the conference, entitled "The impact of the Interstate Gambling Treaty - consequences of the monopoly and opportunities for liberalising the gambling market.” The purpose of the event was to draw attention to the consequences of the Interstate Gambling Treaty and to evaluate new, alternative models in place in other EU countries. On paper, the state monopoly on gambling serves to protect players and was achieved by way of a general prohibition of Internet gambling. Jörg Bode MdL (Member of the Landtag), chairman of the FDP faction of the Lower Saxony federal state parliament and the event's patron, is opposed to the current ruling and, in view of the ongoing evaluation of the Interstate Gambling Treaty, has demanded an in-depth study into the impact of the Treaty. Detlef Parr MdB (Member of the Bundestag), the FDP Bundestag faction's spokesperson for sports affairs, addiction and illegal drugs, also recognises the need for reform and has called for the Interstate Gambling Treaty to be terminated ahead of schedule by the Federal States, so that suitable reform measures can be brought in without delay, decriminalising Internet games such as sports betting and online poker for players and organisers, while continuing to protect players and simultaneously securing funding for good causes. Dr. Wulf Hambach, partner of gambling law specialists Hambach & Hambach, pointed out that the aims were identical to those pursued by other countries with more liberal models in place. He explained that the objective of establishing an attractive, controlled and regulated gambling market had been thwarted by the German Internet ban, since online players were being driven to the black market. In particular, the legal aims pursued by the Interstate Gambling Treaty (namely combating addiction and associated crime, and channelling players' desire to play) are compromised by an Internet ban. He went on to say that Germany was alone in adopting such a model, since Internet gambling is permitted by law in 21 of the 27 EU Member States and is regulated, or at least tolerated. Specialist lawyers from France (Thibault Verbiest) and Italy (Quirino Mancini) and legal advisers from Norway (Rolf Sims) and Gibraltar (Phill Brear) presented the models adopted by their respective home countries to the audience and offered advice on reform. Quirino Mancini, lawyer and partner of Sinisi, Ceschini, Mancini & Partners Law Offices, put forward the view that Germany ought to introduce a uniform supervisory authority and policy, since separate policies for each individual Federal State are simply not workable in practice. In particular, he highlighted Italy's leading role in regulating online poker, where the game is classified as a game of skill and thus permitted by law. Behavioural scientist Prof. Iver Hand (director of the player project Verhaltenstherapie Falkenried MVZ GmbH) criticised the over-use and consequent trivialisation of the term "compulsive gambling”. He said that the typical warning given, "gambling can be addictive”, was more reminiscent of an advertising slogan. Committing to the concept of compulsive gambling blocks any funding for behavioural research, although behavioural disorders cannot simply be lumped together with physical dependencies such as alcoholism. He added that psychotherapeutic training was an essential requirement for successful treatment, and that all therapists employed needed to receive adequate sponsorship and training, a path that as yet remains untrodden in Germany for political reasons. Prof. Friedrich Schneider analysed the drop in turnover in the public gambling sector in 2008 (between 12% and 30%), as well as the simultaneous growth of the black market. He pointed out that those who are intent on gambling on the Internet will not be deterred by a written ban, but will continue to do so. The associated loss of jobs, tax revenue and added value for the German economy due to lack of advertising revenue led him to urgently recommend at least a partial liberalisation. In the concluding panel discussion, the consequences described above were discussed with Wolfgang Angenendt, representative of the Deutsche Toto- und Lottoblock (the association of federal state lottery companies), and Christian Kipper, executive director of the ARD Fernsehlotterie (television lottery). Wolfgang Angenendt qualified the drop in turnover and said that he sees no alternative to the current monopoly, due to the rules laid down by the Federal Constitutional Court. Mr Kipper criticised the advertising restrictions and the prohibition of Internet sales, which he said seriously compromised numerous charitable projects supported by the ARD Fernsehlotterie. As a result, he said, the dual aims of "helping and winning” can no longer be communicated and particularly younger members of the public for whom the Internet is a primary sales medium cannot be reached as a result of the ban. By way of conclusion, Detlef Parr MdB explained that emergency reform on a national level would be required if the necessary steps are not taken at the Federal State level. He said that a reform of this kind was conceivable for both sports betting and online games such as online poker, so that members of the public are no longer persecuted by bans and driven to crime. For the FDP, so much is certain: The Internet ban included in the Interstate Gambling Treaty is a dangerous path for Germany to go down, due in no small part to its ineffectiveness at combating addiction and the fact that it puts charitable projects such as those supported by the ARD Fernsehlotterie and professional and amateur sport at risk. Consequently, reform and alignment to EU standards are desperately needed. Source: TIME LAW NEWS 4/2009 (www.timelaw.de) Hambach & Hambach Law Firm / Kommunikation und Recht


Coalition agreement in Schleswig-Holstein demands cancellation of the German Interstate Tr

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Kiel/Germany – According to the coalition agreement between the Christian-Democratic Party (CDU) and the Liberal Party (FDP), published on 17 October 2009, Schleswig-Holstein, one of the 16 German states (Länder), will cancel the Interstate Treaty on Gambling (Glücksspielstaatvertrag) and thereby end the state monopoly on gambling. According to Jürgen Koppelin, leader of the Liberal Party Schleswig-Holstein, other German states might follow the example of Schleswig-Holstein. If the Germans states can not agree on a new uniform regulation, CDU and FDF announced to consider a licensing system. According to the coalition agreement, the now state-owned casinos in Schleswig-Holstein will also be privatised. Originally, Schleswig-Holstein did not agree to the Interstate Treaty, but favoured an alternative model, a separate Interstate Treaty on Sport Betting, providing licenses to private bookmakers. Due to "fiscal reasons” the state finally ratified the Interstate treaty on Gambling in 2007.


Striking Developments in the Italian Gaming: Market Liberalisation Mission Accomplished

Thursday, October 22, 2009

An article by Qurinio Manchini, attorney-at-law, Sinisi, Ceschini, Mancini, Italy, Cooperation Partner of Hambach & Hambach Law Firm Undoubtedly the last four month were the busiest ever in terms of striking developments in the Italian gaming market. Such a boost to an otherwise traditionally patchy and slow-paced regulatory process was due to the combined effect of tragic events (the earthquake that rocked a Central Italy historic city called L''Aquila last April) and the Treasury''s permanent hunt of fresh taxable revenues to heal the Budget deficit. These two factors together led to the completion of the domestic gaming market liberalisation process the Italian authorities had begun in the summer 2006. Soon after the L''Aquila quake, the Berlusconi cabinet pledged to quickly rebuild the town by launching a highly-prioritised, very ambitious and predictably expensive reconstruction plan whose exceptional funding instruments were identified in a governmental emergency decree dated 28 April 2009 ("the Abruzzo Decree”) promptly converted with a few amendments by the Parliament into Law No. 77 of 24 June 2009. One of the most relevant chapters of the Abruzzo Decree deals with measures concerning the gaming sector which can be summarised as follows: 1. Legalisation of online fixed odds games of chance (online casinos and Vegas-style games) 2. Legalisation of online poker and ring games 3. Mandate to AAMS (the Italian gaming regulatory authority) within 60 days from the enactment of the Decreto Abruzzo, to regulate betting exchange, betting on virtual events and video lottery games ("VLTs”). Actually all such games had already been legalised in 2006 yet AAMS had since failed to implement the relevant rules so they had been laying for long time in a sort of regulatory limbo 4. introduction of an unprecedented profit-based tax regime with a flat 20% rate applying to all new games listed above other than the VLTs. This provision is of paramount importance as it paves the way to the launch of games that otherwise could have never been offered in Italy given its penalising turnover-based tax regime which notably will continue to apply to sports and horse races betting, bingo, lotteries and skill games (including online poker tournaments that will thus continue to be taxed at 3% of the total tournament buy-ins sold by the operator) AAMS is currently in the course of implementing the regulations concerning all the new games covered by the Decreto Abruzzo and while it will probably miss the 60- day deadline assigned to it by the government, it can still can be expected that the new rules will fall in place some time in the autumn season. In the meantime, on 4 August 2009 another important governmental emergency decree was published in the Official Gazette of Laws and Regulations pushing urgent measures to tackle the worldwide economic crisis that is badly gripping Italians too ("the Anti-crisis Decree”). One of the most important revenue-raising provisions is set out at article 21 of the Anti-crisis Decree wherein a lottery tender is called for the award of up to four brand new licences when the current exclusive one, held by Lottomatica-owned Consorzio Lotterie Nazionali, expires in 2010. These are the main tender guidelines on which basis AAMS will within 30 days have to draw up and issue the tender paper: Licensees will be entitled to an 11,90% fee (including the 8% fee due to the selling points) charged on all sold lottery cards Payout no higher than 75% Irrespective of the number of actual licence bidders (1 to 4), the minimum guaranteed bid ("MGB”) revenue will have to fetch €500 mln for the current year and to €300 mln for 2010 (the MGB payment may be split in two instalments payable respectively in 2009 and 2010) Each licence bidder will have to set up an exclusive distribution network of no fewer than 10.000 selling points to be activated by no later than 31 December 2010 Licences will last 9 years and may be extended only once. The 9-year duration period will be split in two phases respectively of 5 and 4 years. At the end of the first period AAMS will evaluate each licensee''s performance and subject to positive assessment thereof, it will allow the licensee to carry on for the second and final 4-year period Article 21 of the Anti-crisis Decree also deals with the VLTs establishing that AAMS will have to take immediate steps to start the VLTs testing phase that will be initially limited only to the 10 operators currently holding a licence to remotely connect the terrestrial network of slot machines to the AAMS centralised system. Eventually AAMS will call a fresh VLT licence tender open to national and EEA-based bidders subject to certain operational terms as well as to payment of an €15.000 licence fee per each VLT terminal to be connected. Last but definitely not least, on 29 July 2009 Law no. 88 of 7 July 2009 ("Law 88/09”) carrying the new remote gaming (ie. online, mobile and interactive television) frame rules became effective. At the time this article is being written AAMS has not yet implemented the relevant regulations and relevant licensing requirements although it is expected that also this process like the others quoted above will not take too long. The main features of the Italian-style remote gaming as re-shaped under Law 88/09 can be listed as follows: A specific AAMS-granted, 9-year licence is required for the offer of remote gaming services The one-off cost of the licence is €350.000 payable upon licence issuance The remote gaming licence currently covers: fixed odds/pool sports and horserace betting, skill gaming (including online poker and any other card tournaments which are all eligible for skill gaming classification), online scratch-and-win (subject to a sub-distribution agreement with the current exclusive lottery licence holder), and online bingo, BUT When AAMS regulates fixed odds games of chance (ie online casino) online poker and other cash games, bets on virtual events and betting exchange, these games too will be included in the remote gaming licence. Such regulatory process is expected to be completed in the autumn 2009 The AAMS licence is open to any applicant based in an European Economic Area jurisdiction ("EEA” ie. European Union countries plus Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein). Up to 200 fresh remote gaming licences in addition to the existing ones may be granted by AAMS The licence may be issued directly to a foreign applicant provided it holds an EEA passport The licence may be issued even to a non-operator (such a startup or a company coming from a totally different business) subject to (i) release in favour of AAMS of an €1,5 million bank guarantee and (ii) a certification by an independent authority that the applicant holds all required technological infrastructure and management resources to run the licence Remote gaming services can only be offered to Italian residents through a dedicated platform identified by the ''.it'' suffix which must be fully linked up the centralised system ran by AAMS (via its technological partner SOGEI) so that each bet/wager placed by an Italian customer can be recorded, monitored, tracked, validated and taxed Provision of remote gaming services from a foreign-based ‘.com'' platform to Italian residents is strictly forbidden and subject to the blacklist restrictions mentioned in the previous chapter as well as to prosecution Whoever offers online gaming services in Italy without holding an AAMS-granted licence is subject to imprisonment from 6 months up to three years Whoever organises, offers and takes remote bets in Italy on any games regulated by AAMS but in a way other than that required by the AAMS rules, is subject to arrest from three months up to one year and to a fine ranging from €500 to €5000 even if the violator does hold an AAMS licence Foreign-based AAMS licensees are allowed to keep their gaming servers abroad provided they are located in the EEA space and a full, real time connection with the AAMS centralised system is in place The software running on all games offered on the ‘.it'' platform must be certified by an AAMS-approved testing laboratory The very peculiarity of the Italian-style remote gaming model is that the operators'' platforms must be interconnected with the AAMS centralised system and database at all times for bet validation, compliance checks and taxation purposes. In practice this control system works as a three-way system where all player-related information received by the operator must be conveyed in real time on to AAMS that, if all required data have been collected, will validate the bet/wager and send a signal back to the operator who may then take the bet/wager and process it. Tax-wise, as already mentioned above the model that will soon be enforced by AAMS is a blend of turnover-based ("TOB”) and gross profit-based ("GPB”). The following games will continue to be subject to TOB taxation (relevant applicable rates in brackets): sports betting (3,5% on average), horserace betting (nearly 10%), skill-gaming (3% flat), bingo (nearly 23,8%) and lotteries. All brand new remote games soon to be regulated by AAMS namely online poker and ring games, online poker, betting exchange and bets on virtual events, will instead be subject to GPB taxation at a flat 20% rate. Altogether the three landmark pieces of legislation discussed above (Decreto Abruzzo, Anti-crisis Decree and Law 88/09) the enabled the Italian to brilliantly - or should we rather say smartly - achieve a dual goal: collecting more (and big) money from the gaming industry while further opening up the market and definitely modernising the laws and regulations on the gaming business. On top of that, in addition to keeping its national licence regime fully in place with the official blessing of the Brussels authorities, Italy also became the champion of a pragmatic and reasonably flexible regulatory model which is currently the only realistic alternative to an Europe-wide harmonisation of the licensing rules. Indeed the Italian model (including a beefed up version of the "blacklist restrictions”) seems to have been adopted with appropriate changes by other EU jurisdictions like France and Denmark which have largely drawn from it to open up their respective markets thereby combining a system of internal rules and controls still issued and enforced at local level, with less administrative red tape and lighter operational hurdles for licence applicants based and licensed in other EU jurisdictions. All the above regulatory developments occurred (and continue to unfold) so quickly over the course of the last four months so there is little doubt, if any, that Italy is indeed the country of miracles. Source: TIME LAW NEWS 4/2009 (www.timelaw.de) Hambach & Hambach Law Firm / Kommunikation und Recht


Summary French Online Gaming Market

Thursday, October 22, 2009

summary by Thibault Verbiest, Attorney-at-Law, ULYS, Cooperation Partner of Hambach & Hambach Law Firm I. Introduction The French online gaming market is opening up to competition: the French Government is in the process of enacting a legislation liberalising the online gaming market under the pressure of both the European Commission (hereinafter referred to as the "Commission”) and the fast-moving environment on the Internet where online gambling operators are already present and offer games of chance to french consumers. The present memorandum will briefly summarize the main features of the Draft French Gaming Law (currently under discussion at the French Parliament) and will put a particular emphasis on the following issues: (i) Is the future licensing and tax regime viable? (ii) Is France a real opportunity for new entrants? (iii) Is the new regime compatible with EU law? II. Main features of the Draft French Gaming Law In order to safeguard social order and to prevent addiction, wagers, winnings and the average rate of return to the players will be limited. In a preventive way, operators will have to insert apparent objective messages on their websites about the prohibition to play for minors and the risks related to gambling activities. The opening will be limited to online horse race betting, sports betting and games consisting of shared games which depend on skill, whereby the player, after the intervention of chance, demonstrates his/her will and decides, in relation to the strategy adopted by the other players, to use a strategy which is likely to increase his / her chance of winning (for example online poker); Thus, lotteries, virtual slot machines, "spread betting”, "betting exchange”, betting on virtual competition and casino games in which consumers play against the bank (roulette, blackjack, etc…) are excluded from the opening since they are considered to be too dangerous in light of maintaining public and social order, i.e. said to be too addictive; The online Games Regulations Authority, ARJEL, independent public authority, will be specially created to regulate the remote gambling market. This Authority will be in charge of: (I) Monitoring compliance with the objectives of the policy of games accessible via the internet; (ii) Proposing a cahier des charges (list of requirements established by the ARJEL)to the government for each type of license (see below); (iii) Preparing the licence request files for online gaming operators and attributing the licenses; (iv) Auditing for compliance by operators with legislative and regulatory measures and clauses of the reference terms that they are subjected to; (v) Carrying out surveillance of online operations and participating in the fight against illegal game sites and against fraud; To that end, the ARJEL shall be entitled to block access to illegal websites by a direct injunction addressed to Internet Service Providers as well as to block financial transactions of illegal online gambling operators; (vi) Enacting rules regarding the audit of technical and financial data for each online game or bet; (vii) Determining, where appropriate, the technical parameters of online games within the framework of rules set by the decrees; (viii) Proposing legislative and regulatory modifications to the Government; (ix) The license will only be granted to online operators complying with the regulations contained in the cahier des charges setting general requirements for all operators and specific clauses according to each type of licenses, namely sports betting, horse race betting or circle games (such as poker or baccarat); For instance, all operators will be required to provide information and guarantees concerning their identification, their experience in the gambling industry, the transparency of their shareholding, the measures they will implement to fight against fraud and money laundering, to authenticate online payment, and to protect children or process personal data, etc; Licenses will only be granted to operators established in a Member State of the European Union or the European Economic Community. Operators whose headquarters are based in one of the states featuring on the list of non co-operative tax havens made by the Organisation for Co-operation and Economic Development or whose main shareholders are based in one of the States featuring on this, cannot be granted a license to provide their services in France; Operators will have to operate from an internet website accessible through a first level domain name with a ".fr” ending; All data related to gambling activities, all data exchanged between players and operators and data linked to the identification of gaming or betting events, should be available on a mirror server based in France and eventually provided through an operator representative in France; The license will be granted for a period of five years. It is renewable. It is not transferable. A specific agreement will be requested for each type of games operated by the licensee; The tax rate will be calculated on the amount of the wagers: the total sums outlaid by players and punters. The winnings, invested by the latter in the form of new bets, will be equally taxed. The taxation is set according to the following scheme: • 8,5% for sports betting; • 15,5% for horse racing betting; • 2% for online poker. Once the Draft French Gaming Law is enacted, the ARJEL will need another few months to be efficient and begin to grant licenses. According to Eric Woerth, France will not start granting online betting licenses in the beginning of 2010 as initially contemplated. Due to a delay in the legislative process caused, among other things, by the Commission''s detailed opinion, rendered on June 8th, 2009, the Draft French Gaming Law is unlikely to enter into force as from January 1st, 2010. In any event, it should enter into force by the beginning of the World Football Cup in South Africa at the latest. III. Is the future licensing and tax regime viable? The Draft French Gaming Law provides that taxation shall be based on wagers rather than on gaming gross revenue; the latter being much more adapted especially for poker operators. In application of the above, imposing a 2% tax on global wagers would amount to tax around 60% of their gross revenue. It is likely that this will be considered as very little incentive for most operators to offer their services on the French online gaming market. In addition, this system could be considered as a barrier to the freedom to provide services within the EU. IV. Is France a real opportunity for new entrants? Following completion of the contemplated reform, France should remain an attractive market for new entrants. However, several issues will have to be addressed in order to improve the attractiveness of the French online gaming market. First, as noted above, the proposed tax regime is likely to constitute a deterrent for foreign online gaming operators willing to penetrate the French online gaming market. Second, the requirement to designate a fiscal representative in France seems to be disproportionate in the light of the aim pursued: in this regard, an appropriate system of ex post surveillance/notification requirements would be more suitable to attain the legitimate aim pursued, namely an efficient tax collection. Third, operators established in "proper jurisdictions” outside the EU, such as Alderney or the Isle of Man, should be allowed to apply for a license since their home jurisdictions offer an equivalent level of protection for players. V. Is the new regime compatible with EU law? Following the notification (in accordance with Directive 98/34/CE) of the Draft French Gaming Law, the Commission rendered its detailed opinion on June 8th, 2009. The French authorities are urged to clarify and amend some of the provisions of the Draft French Gaming Law in order to ensure its compatibility with EU law. The first objection relates to Article 16 of the Draft French Gaming Law and the system put in place for granting licenses. According to the Commission, this rule restricts the freedom to provide services (Article 49 of the EC Treaty). To be compatible with European law the French authorities are requested to clarify to which extend they will take into account the requirements of the legal system under which the operator is already licensed (home country). The second objection pertains to Article 52 of the Draft French Gaming Law which provides for an obligation for all licensed operators to obtain consent from the operating right owner of the sport event. According to the Commission, such a requirement could constitute a restriction to the freedom to provide services, as the betting offer would become less attractive. The third remark questions the justification of Article 8 of the Draft French Gaming Law: French Government has to prove the necessity of this restriction. According to this provision, a maximum payback ratio is foreseen, whereby the Commission considers this might constitute an infringement to the freedom to provide services. In this respect, the French authorities are urged to adduce evidence concerning the link between the rate of return and fight against addiction. The last objection is related to Article 39 of the Draft French Gaming Law which provides for an obligation to have a fiscal representative established in France. Such a requirement might constitute a restriction to the freedom to provide services, notwithstanding the contention of the French Government that this provision is aimed at ensuring an effective fiscal supervision. Such a contention is not acceptable (see Commission v. France judgement C-334/02) considering that such an obligation is disproportionate and can be replaced by less restrictive measures. Source: TIME LAW NEWS 4/2009 (www.timelaw.de) Hambach & Hambach Law Firm / Kommunikation und Recht


Danish draft legislation needs amending according to the EC

Monday, October 19, 2009

The European Commission issued a detailed opinion against the Danish proposal to regulate online gaming and betting this week. The draft legislation is intended to regulate both the on and offline gaming and betting market in Denmark. Ligné, Secretary General of EGBA said: “We support the Danish government’s intention to move towards a regulated opening of the online gaming market, but this has to be done in compliance with EC law requirements. We welcome the European Commission´s continued resolve to ensure that all gaming and betting legislation in the EU complies with the core principles of the EC Treaty.” The Danish draft law was notified to the European Commission and the other Member States on 7 July 2009. The draft text was made publicly available upon notification but the Danish government later invoked the confidentiality procedure. According to the EGBA, a number of key provisions are highly doubtful under EC law, including: The licensing regime fails to take into account securities and controls already offered by other EU jurisdictions, in conflict with jurisprudence of the European Court of Justice; continued monopoly on inter alia pool betting for horse racing; introduction of ISP and financial transactions blocking and a marketing ban and prohibition for non-Danish residents to participate in Danish licensed games. According to Sigrid Ligné; “EU consumers demand a diverse, safe and secure online gaming and betting offer. More and more Member States are responding to these demands by moving away from their existing system of a gambling monopoly to a licensing system adapted to the Internet. We support the Danish government´s intentions but emphasize the need to ensure that any new legal framework is compliant with the EC Treaty. We would welcome an opportunity to share our expertise and knowledge of other licensing regimes in the EU to ensure an effective regime can be introduced at the earliest opportunity.” Today’s detailed opinion extends the standstill period until November 9th, during which time Denmark cannot adopt its draft legislation. Denmark is required to reply to the Commission’s views before adopting the legislation. If Denmark adopts the current text without taking into account the Commission’s objections, it can immediately launch infringement proceedings. Yogonet.com


French National Assembly Approves Online Gaming Bill

Monday, October 19, 2009

The French National Assembly voted Tuesday in favour of adopting the bill to liberalise and regulate the national online gaming market. The bill passed by a majority of 96 votes with 302 in favour and 206 against and now passes on to the Senate for further debate. Tuesday’s vote reflected the tone of last week’s national assembly debate on the subject, with 281 of the 302 yes votes coming from the Union for a Popular Movement Party, with support from the liberal New Centre Party. The bill was overwhelmingly opposed by the majority of the remaining French political parties. As the vote got underway, the Remote Gambling Association expressed its regret that the French Gambling Bill in its current form will fail to achieve any of its stated objectives. The RGA said the proposed regulatory and taxation regime “will be wholly unattractive and in most cases completely unviable” for private sector online gambling companies, while cautioning that even further restrictions may be introduced into the bill as it progresses towards enactment. “In its current form, the planned French legislation will simply not be viable for the vast majority of private sector operators and France will miss out on the opportunity to share in the growth and associated benefits of having its own thriving, regulated online gambling industry,” said RGA Chief Executive, Clive Hawkswood. “It also runs the risk of further challenges at EU level because the level of restrictions are such that they could be considered unacceptable barriers to market entry.” Those concerns were echoed by the European Gaming and Betting Association which said Tuesday’s vote worsens the conditions of the market opening. “At the time when Europe is watching the development of France’s reform, the introduction of even more unjustified restrictions is threatening to corrupt the efficient workings of the market. If the Senate votes along these lines, the prospect of a French market that is both viable and compliant with EU law is a long-way off,” said Sigrid Ligné, Secretary General of the EGBA.


LICENSES ARE NOT ILLEGAL

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

MRGC Press Release LICENSES ARE NOT ILLEGAL The Malta Remote Gaming Council has the duty to protect the industry and its membership and feels that it has no option but to speak out after a series of attacks by Member States on operators who hold a license to operate an online gaming service in other Member States. The ECJ has ruled on a number of occasions that Member States cannot stop cross border gaming services offered by private companies licensed in other Member States as they would be in breach of EC Treaty, Article 49. This was also re-affirmed in the now infamous BWIN/LIGA vs. Santa Casa ruling. Yet these rulings are repeatedly ignored by these same jurisdictions who are continuing to refer to legal licenses issued in other Member States as being illegal. These accusations are frivolous and unfounded, moreover, most of the Member States that are making these claims have infringement procedures against them and therefore are themselves not conformant to EU laws or treaties. Maltese license holders are subject to strict anti-money laundering procedures before being issued a license to operate and are required themselves to comply with a number of measures: - responsible gaming and player protection measures superior to those implemented by most monopolies; stringent fraud, KYC and AML procedures; fair play; advertising code of conduct; and, are subject to rigorous monitoring and controls by the regulator. What is so illegal about this licensing process? The EU was set up as an economic zone for the benefit of all its members. If barriers start going up and protectionism sets in, the EU will have failed to achieve its objectives. The ECJ has recognized this and repeatedly ruled against monopolies. Accusations that all licenses are illegal unless they are issued in the jurisdiction where the market is a very dangerous game to play, and the main aim is just to try and frighten off players from playing with such private companies to the detriment of their legitimate business. Who is going to be held responsible for any potential losses incurred due to these unfounded accusations? The MRGC intends to use every means available to it under the Law to protect its members and the industry. Alan Alden General Secretary, Malta Remote Gaming council 13th October, 2009


BWIN and Liga versus Santa Casa

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

PRESS RELEASE BWIN and Liga versus Santa Casa (ECJ ruling dd 8.9.09 C-42/07) The Ruling and its implications The Ruling A Portuguese Criminal Court made a reference to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) concerning fines imposed on the Liga and Bwin by the directors of Santa Casa on the ground that they had infringed the Portuguese legislation governing the provision of certain games of chance via the internet. The national court requested a ruling from the Court on the interpretation of Articles 43 EC, 49 EC and 56 EC. The court decided in favour of Santa Casa citing a number of reasons, such as risk of fraud and possibility of influencing the outcome of sport results. The full details of the case can be found on the internet. The Implications The positive outcome of this ruling is that Article 49, as it has been in a number of other ECJ cases, has been once again recognised as also being applicable for online gaming services. The negative part of the ruling is that the monopoly could justify implementing exception to the article on the basis of combating fraud and crime. The justification being that the monopoly was deemed to be able to exert more controls than those imposed in other Member states. Another unfounded justification is that the operator (bwin in this case) could fix games for more profit. Other jurisdictions, which have ignored previous ECJ rulings against their monopolies, have jumped onto this ruling to justify non-acceptance of licenses issued by other Member States. The danger arising from the interpretation of this ruling is that the EU will end up with a situation that each country will use the same logic and excuse to not accept cross-border online gaming services licensed in other Member States and force operators to obtain a license in their state to be able to sell to players resident in that market. Potentially, we will end up with a situation where for an online gaming operator to operate in the EU they will need 27 licenses and possibly even more where in countries such as Germany and Spain the different regions have different ideas. The implications of this type of scenario on the industry are disastrous. Here are some possible consequences: • It is a known fact that monopolies do not provide much innovation and their pricing is not competitive. Consequently, the consumer will not be able to benefit from a competitive environment where he can look for the best and cheapest products. • Having 27 licenses is not possible for even the largest of operators. The complications and costs related to this type of scenario are not sustainable or manageable. • Start ups will practically cease to happen as it will be too costly and time consuming to obtain 27 licenses. • Member States may potentially implement a limitation on the number of licenses issued, potentially creating oligopolies in each State. • Betting customers’ choice will be very restricted. Conclusion In our opinion the ruling is flawed as it is assuming that operators licensed in other Member States cannot reach the same level of control that a monopoly does. This is totally incorrect as jurisdictions such as Malta have very stringent controls which are stricter than those required by most monopolies. The ruling also assumes that operators are money grabbing profiteers ready to adopt corrupt practices to generate larger profits. Whilst nothing is impossible, presumption of guilt or assuming there is potential to commit a crime cannot make someone guilty of an offence not yet committed. It is worrying that a court rules in favour of a party on the assumption that another party may at some point in the future be capable of committing a crime! We hope that this ruling is taken for what it is, one based on assumptions and possibilities and which does not consider the possibility of any Member State other than the Member State where the gambling is taking place being capable of controlling licensed operators. Finally, the Santa Casa case is a very specific model where all funds generated by the monopoly are given to charity. MRGC Management Board 30th September, 2009


France set to relax betting rules

Monday, October 12, 2009

Overseas betting companies will be allowed to operate in France for the first time if a bill going before the French Parliament later is approved. Until now, gambling in France has been restricted to two main state monopolies. All other online gambling is currently banned. If passed, the law would allow UK and other overseas firms to offer sports betting and poker in France. Plans to open up and regulate betting in France were announced in March. This was in response to the growing number of illegal gambling sites accessible to the French, and to pressure from the European Commission to reform gambling markets. Currently, betting in France is restricted to Groupe Francaise des Jeux, which runs the state lottery, and Pari Mutuel Urbain, which offers gambling on horse racing. Should the restrictions be relaxed, there "is a massive potential market for any firm," Paddy Power from the Paddy Power betting firm told the BBC. However, he said that the bill was just the first step in a long political process to open up gambling in France. Source - http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/8294316.stm


Bill forcing operators to re-register players passes France's National Assembly

Monday, October 12, 2009

An Amendment to force operators to shut down the accounts of their French players when the bill regulating online gaming in France is voted through early next year has been passed by France''''s National Assembly. The development is a severe blow for operators with a large market share in France such as Betclick, Bwin and Unibet, who will only be able to open new French player accounts once they are licensed five to six months later in May or June 2010 if the bill is passed by the Senate, France’s other legislative chamber. However the two French monopolies, Française des Jeux (FDJ) and Pari Mutuel Urbain (PMU), will not be subject to the amendment, and will be allowed to continue to accept new accounts during that time. The amendment to the egaming law was proposed earlier this week, and was passed yesterday night by France’s National Assembly, which is currently debating the wider draft bill regulating online gaming. The regulation is expected to become law by January 2010. The European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA), the trade group that represents European operators including Bwin, Expekt, PartyGaming and Unibet and that hit out at the draft laws earlier this week, said that the measure was designed to protect the French monopolies. EGBA secretary general Sigrid Ligné told EGRmagazine.com: “The measure is clearly anti-competitive and can be added to other similar elements of the regulation. The Senate still has to debate the text but if the amendment is confirmed, it will only serve to highlight the real intention behind the draft regulation, which is to prevent EU-licensed operators from being profitable in France and to reinforce the position of the historic operators there.” The impact of the measure on private operators would be compounded if, as some industry sources expect, FDJ and PMU were to launch new online sports betting and poker solutions in the first half of next year, in an effort to build up their player base while non-monopoly competitors are unable to operate in the French market. The French government’s plans to hand out licences by June 2010 are timed to coincide with the football World Cup in South Africa, which begins that month. Source – www. egrmagazine.com


Gambling Commisssion Lays Out Risk Based Regulatory Approach

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Gambling Commission (the Commission) has today published a set of documents, which restate the principles that guide its regulatory approach. The documents, which include the Commission’s Statement of principles for licensing and regulation, have been revised to take account of the Commission’s experience since the Gambling Act 2005 (the Act) came fully into force in September 2007. The Commission’s Chief Executive Jenny Williams said: “These documents set out our risk based approach to regulating the gambling industry. With the benefit of two years’ experience we are restating the principles that underpin this approach. “Our intention is to clarify, and where possible simplify, the documentation - but the principles already established remain largely the same.” A full public consultation took place over the summer. Amongst other things the documents emphasise the Commission’s pursuit of the Hampton and Macrory principles in promotion of the licensing objectives. For example, our approach has regard to the impact of regulation on different types and sizes of licence holder and our compliance work focuses on preventative activity rather than regulatory action by communicating with licence holders and keeping them informed of our requirements. Source - www.egovmonitor.com


Moscow gambling industry adapts to ban

Thursday, October 08, 2009

MOSCOW (AP) — Moscow authorities are expressing concern about the rise of "surrogate" gambling technologies such as lottery machines and online gambling three months after an almost total ban on gambling in Russia. Since July 1, legal gambling in Russia has been confined to four far-flung geographical areas where no casinos have opened yet, and bookmakers have had to undergo complicated re-licensing. But Moscow Deputy Mayor Sergei Baidakov said Monday that about a third of the capital's 525 casinos and slot machine parlors are now selling instant lottery tickets. He also said the number of Internet cafes providing access to online gambling has tripled since July. Russia's gambling industry had a turnover of $3.6 billion last year and employed about 400,000 people. Source - www.kyivpost.com


United States lawmakers urge delay in UIGEA implementation

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Rules that would enforce a US ban on Internet gambling in two months should be delayed by a year. US lawmakers have urged regulators to delay by a year financial rules that would enforce the ban on internet gambling, due to be implemented from the start of December. Enforcing the rules in two months’ time would put an unreasonable burden on regulators and the financial services industry at a time of economic crisis, said the lawmakers, in a letter to the Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve. The bill, which has cost European Internet gambling companies billions of Euros, prevents firms from accepting credit cards, cheques and electronic fund transfer payments in connection with any any "unlawful" internet gambling. Congress passed the anti-gambling legislation in 2006, when Republicans still controlled both the House and the Senate. However, the bill did not define which types of gambling were illegal. The Treasury and Federal Reserve expressed concern a year ago that they were struggling to understand exactly what was unlawful. For example, the bill still allowed online horserace betting permissible under the Interstate Horseracing Act of 1978. The group, led by Barney Frank, the US House Financial Services Committee Chairman, said in a letter that the law enacting the new rules is "flawed" and said the House is likely to move legislation that would officially delay the rules until December 2010. "We also believe this is an unreasonable burden on regulators and the financial services industry at a time of economic crisis," the letter signed by 19 lawmakers said. Yogonet.com / Times Online


Make your customers re-register, French govt to tell operators

Thursday, October 08, 2009

OPERATORS THAT HAVE taken bets from French customers might be forced to re-register their existing French players when online gaming laws in France come into effect next year. The measure is one of up to 1,000 amendments that have been put forward by politicians and interested parties ahead of the three days of debate the regulation will undergo in France’s National Assembly this week. If enacted, the rule would force operators such as Unibet or Betclick to force their thousands of current French customers to re-register from scratch. In addition, they would not be allowed to encourage or incentivise those players to re-open an account with them. Both companies and others are thought to be fighting the measure but are also preparing for the possibility. The issue, which will be debated today, tomorrow and Friday, was introduced into the draft regulation after pressure from operators that have not been active in France until now but that wish to begin trading on the same basis as operators that already have a big market share in France. The French monopolies Francaise des Jeux and Pari Mutuel Urbain are also thought to have been much encouraged by theECJ ruling in the Bwin-Santa Casa case against the Portugese monopoly which supported legal protection of the state monopoly if governments deem it necessary for the public interest, and have been lobbying to only authorise pool betting on all sports betting products, rather than only on horse racing while allowing fixed odds on sports such as football as originally proposed. As reported on EGRmagazine.com, the European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) hit out at other aspects of the draft regulation yesterday, saying that it does not benefit consumers and remains in breach of EU law. Source - www.egrmagazine.com


EGR Live 2009

Monday, September 28, 2009

The Malta Remote Gaming council will be participating in a conference organized by the EGaming Review for the online Gaming Industry entitled EGR LIVE 2009 on the 30th November till the 1st December at the Old Billingsgate in London. The EGR Live is a brand new concept bringing the online gaming industry together for a free to attend event combining meetings, conference sessions, seminars, workshops, products & services displays, networking and hospitality – all under one roof. The MRGC will be represented by Mr. Alan Attard (Treasurer), Mr. Alan Alden (General Secretary) and as well Mr Roger Strickland (Board Member). Please feel free to contact us on info@mrgc.org.mt should you require further details or wish to meet up in person at the event.


The House of Representatives approves a project that would ban gambling

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The House of Representatives approved this week a law that bans games of chance in Bolivia, which had an exorbitant growth in the latest months, without producing any benefit for society, informed the representative and President of the Commission of Economy, Gustavo Torrico.“It had been an exorbitant growth of these centers without benefiting the society or the state”, said the representative of Movimiento Al Socialismo (MAS). Torrico informed that the bill prohibits, in the whole national territory, the operation of games of chance developed in a mechanical way or through the use of machines, instruments, elements or brackets of any type of technology with the aim to obtain a prize or which involves big amounts of money, properties or valuable objects in accordance with an uncertain result. Besides, the Bolivian Penal Code includes an article that sanctions those who "with the aim to obtain an improper benefit for themselves or for a third party that come from crimes connected to the illegal operation of games of chance, will be punished with an imprisonment of one to five years and a fine of 60 to 200 days". According to the temporary regulations of that document, once approved in the House of Senators and from the promulgation of the Law, all the operating licenses granted by Bolivia National Lottery (Lonabol) will be revoked. It also grants a 30-day deadline to companies that perform this activity, for them to remove from the country all the machines and furniture used in bingos and casinos, maily located in the city of Santa Cruz. In Bolivia, technological limitations cause a poor control of slots and other games of chance, intensified by the incipient legal base, according to Lonabol. Yogonet.com / Agencia Boliviana de Información


Ladbrokes decide to withdraw lawsuit against Norweigian Government

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Ladbrokes has decided to withdraw its lawsuit against the Norwegian government regarding its application for a licence in the country, one day after Norway had said that the recent ruling of the European Court of Justice in favour of the Portuguese gaming monopoly would serve as the basis for its defence against the laws. Ladbrokes said that it did not believe that its interests were best served by continuing to pursue the case, just days before the case was due before the Borgarting Court of Appeals. The lawsuit stems from Ladbrokes’ unsuccessful licence application in 2004 to provide betting services in Norway, a decision which the company says breached the Rome treaty, EC directives and the EFTA agreement.Ladbrokes position against Norway was bolstered by a 2007 EFTA Court ruling issued in response to a request by the Oslo District Court, which stated that games of chance provided in return for money constitute economic activities falling within the scope of EEA fundamental freedoms.In 2008 however, the Oslo District Court ruled that Ladbrokes may not offer its services in competition with the Norwegian monopoly, which the court said offered the most effective way to protect Norwegian consumers.Ladbrokes subsequently launched an appeal of that ruling on grounds that the Norwegian monopoly conflicts with the EU Treaty, particularly with regard to the principles of freedom of establishment and the free movement of services.Last week Trond Giske, Norway’s Minister for Culture and Church Affairs, said that the ECJ ruling of September 8th in the case between bwin and the Portuguese gaming monopoly established that EU law does not prohibit gaming monopolies.“The verdict is an important victory for Norway and the other member countries within the European Economic Area who wish to protect their citizens against the negative aspects of gambling,” said Trond Giske. “This gives Norway very good cards in the ongoing litigation with the gaming company Ladbrokes," said Giske, the day before the announcement by Ladbrokes. Despite the withdrawal of its lawsuit in Norway, Ladbrokes said that it will continue to pursue its cause in the Netherlands however.


Spanish government prepares the arrival of Loterías del Estado to online betting

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Spanish government aims to approve a gaming law to regulate the legal void on Internet betting and that will allow Loterías y Apuestas del Estado (LAE) to compete with the rest of the operators in the sector, according to General Director of the public entity, Gonzalo Fernández Rodríguez. Fernández explained that the game overview in Spain has changed in recent years, from a situation in which the only operators that offered games were the public entity and ONCE, to the current context in which there are many companies from other European countries that operate in the country through webpages or betting houses authorized by autonomous communities. These companies offer bets for "almost anything", from sportsbooks to the result of a political election or Formula 1 races. Unlike traditional lotteries, these bets offer "much more immediacy, much more speed and are much more attractive", because the player does not limit to purchase a ticket but also has to make a prediction, explains Fernández. According to the latest report from the Commission of the Market of Telecommunications (CMT), Internet games of chance and betting were in the fifth place –behind air transport (9.9%), travel agencies and tourist operators (9.5%), direct marketing (8.5%) and artistic, sports and entertainment shows (7.2%)- in the ranking of economic activities with more importance in the volume of income generated by economic commerce in Spain during the first semester of 2009, with a 6.7 % of the 1.2 billion euros generated by this type of commerce. Head of LAE thinks that this type of business cannot be “ignored”, with a long tradition in the aglo-saxon world, has changed the gaming prospect in Spain, and will “probably”gain a market share in the near future, so, in his opinion, it is “reasonable and responsible” that the public entity also competes in this sector. “I think LAE, as gaming operator, should be present in this market”, he underlined. However, Fernández affirmed that "the first necessary step" for LAE to valorate to enter in the online betting business is that it exists a regulation that legalizes the Internet gaming, by mobile phone or interactive television. In 2007, a contract-program has been established between LAE and the Ministry of Economy with a two-year deadline to prepare a bill to regulate the sector. Once the deadline concluded, the general director of LAE was hoping to see the gaming law approved before the current legislative period in 2012. Since last year, LAE offers the possibility to bet through its web page in some of the games that were traditionally sold in paper, such as sportsbooks. This year, the sale through that distribution channel has increased almost a 100 %, pointed LAE General Director. The Justice Court of the European Union (TUE) passed judgement last Tuesday on restrictions imposed by some member states to private Internet betting and games of chance firms, and even their prohibition, does not vulnerate the community norm, because they may be considered justified with the aim to fight against fraud and crime. So, the judgement rejects the resources presented by the betting firm via Internet Bwin and by Professional Portuguese Football League. Both firms had been fined by Portuguese authorities with 74,500 and 75,000 euros, respectively, for having proposed and promotioned games of chance by Internet, despite the Portuguese legislation bans it. The association that gathers all the national lotteries of the 27 (European Lotteries) celebrated TUE rule because, in his view, it confirms that the state may keep a gaming monopoly in Internet, as well. The association considered that the rule is a “great victory”for governments and national governments and will be useful to end with Internet betting centers such as Gibraltar, Malta or Channel Islands (UK). Finally, the betting company by Internet Bwin claimed last week a market regulation of the Internet betting in the European Union in order to fill the current “legal void” and so private societies may act with “legal security” in this field. Yogonet.com / Europa Press


Banks are preparing for UIGEA implementation

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

As banks in the US prepare for the implementation of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) in December, financial giant Zions Bancorporation has e-mailed customers advising them of the changes. “In compliance with the US Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, we are required to notify you that you are prohibited from processing transactions derived from Internet bets or wagers where such bet or wager is unlawful under any applicable Federal or state law,” read an e-mail from Zions-owned Nevada State Bank. Salt Lake City-based Zions is a holding company that oversees eight banks Nevada, California, Arizona, Texas, Oregon, Washington, Colorado and Utah. Another of its institutions, the California Bank And Trust, warned its customers that it would ‘not process transactions derived from Internet bets or wagers’ but did not distinguish between incoming or outgoing transactions. The US Third Circuit Court Of Appeals in Philadelphia recently upheld the legality of UIGEA in its ruling on a suit brought by the Interactive Media Entertainment And Gaming Association (iMEGA). The Washington, DC-based trade association had challenged the legislation on behalf of the online gaming industry but the Court ruled that the legality of Internet gambling transactions depended on the state law governing the bettor and operator. “The Court made it clear, gambling on the Internet is unlawful where state law says so,” said Jo Brennan Jr, Chairman for iMEGA. “They seem to be saying that if the state where the bet is placed says Internet gambling is illegal then processing that payment is illegal, meaning that it is not illegal if the state doesn''t have a law saying Internet gambling is illegal. He concluded: “But, there are only a half-dozen states that have laws against Internet gambling, which leaves 44 states where it is potentially lawful.” Yogonet.com / iGaming Business


Congress encouraged to collect billions in new revenue

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Safe and Secure Internet Gambling Initiative launched a new online advertising campaign in support of the Internet Gambling Regulation, Consumer Protection and Enforcement Act of 2009 (H.R. 2267), legislation that would establish a framework to permit licensed gambling operators to accept wagers from individuals in the US. The ads advocate regulating Internet gambling to protect the millions of Americans who continue to gamble online despite government attempts to prohibit the activity and to collect up to us$ 62.7 billion in new revenues for the federal government in the first decade. "As Congress searches for ways to pay for health care reform and other worthy programs, it should end the unsuccessful prohibition of Internet gambling and start collecting taxes on the billions in revenue currently lost to unlicensed, offshore gambling operators," said Jeffrey Sandman, spokesperson for the Safe and Secure Internet Gambling Initiative. House Committee of Financial Services Chairman Barney Frank has announced his intent to hold a hearing and markup on the Internet Gambling Regulation, Consumer Protection and Enforcement Act of 2009 this fall. Since introduction of the legislation by Chairman Frank in May, a bipartisan group of more than 50 co-sponsors have signed onto the bill. Supporters include many senior ranking representatives such as George Miller, chairman of the Committee on Education and Labor, John Conyers, chairman of the Committee on the Judiciary, Charles Rangel, chairman of the Committee on Ways and Means, Edolphus Towns, chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Pete King, ranking member of the Homeland Security Committee and Ron Paul, vice-chairman of the Oversight and Investigations subcommittee. The ads will appear on the Web sites of publications such as the Washington Post, The Hill and Politico, as well as on the Huffington Post, Political Wire and Talking Points Memo. Yogonet.com / PR Newswire


ECJ Ruling Emboldens French Ahead of Market Liberalisatio...

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

France’s Finance Minister, Eric Woerth, has said that Tuesday’s ECJ ruling vindicates the position taken by the French government in the liberalisation of its online gaming market. Meanwhile a number of casino groups are asking the courts to impose a multi-year ban on online gaming operators active in France illegally ahead of the new legislation, preventing them from gaining licences. The ECJ ruling has received widespread support in France from both politicians and gaming operators who view the court’s decision to recognise the legitimacy of the Portuguese monopoly as giving tacit approval to the French model. “A State is entitled to prohibit an operator, authorised in another Member State, from offering gaming products on its territory, if that State itself has not given the operator the right to do so,” said Eric Woerth in a statement welcoming the ECJ’s decision. “Our proposed legislation clearly defines the rules that operators must respect in order to obtain and keep such a licence. The rules will, more efficiently than is currently the case, fight fraud and money laundering, protect players from the risks of gambling addiction, protect minors and guarantee the integrity of sporting competitions.” Mr. Woerth’s comments refer to the need for online gaming operators to apply for a licence under legislation to be introduced early next year, regardless of whether they are licensed in another European member state. Those comments were echoed by Jean-François Lamour who was instrumental in drafting the legislation. “The text of the bill is balanced, protective and legally sufficiently binding for the common interest brought forward by the ECJ to be respected," he said. Online gaming operator Stanleybet, however, believes that nothing in the ECJ ruling has any bearing on most European jurisdictions including France. “In the Santa Casa ruling, the ECJ accepted that Santa Casa is an entity under public law strictly placed under the control of the Portuguese State and furthermore recognised that Portugal, through the monopoly vested in Santa Casa, which does not pursue objectives of profit, in fact coherently pursues goals of control and containment of betting. “The ECJ therefore found that the domestic legislation that was at stake is proportional, apt to attain its purpose and non-discriminatory,” said the company in a statement Thursday. "We respect the Santa Casa ruling of the ECJ, but we cannot see that is more than an interesting application to a particular case of the settled Gambelli and Placanica jurisprudence,” added Stanleybet CEO, John Whittaker. “The legal context of the jurisdictions in which we operate, namely, Italy, Germany and Greece, and hopefully shortly France, where we are waiting for a response from the Government, has not changed in the least.” However French casino operators see this as an opportunity to protect their market and punish those currently active there. Three casino groups, Barrière, Tranchant and Joa, have already filed complaints earlier this year against 14 sites including bwin, Unibet and Sportingbet, for offering online gaming to French players. In hearings scheduled for February 8-10, 2010, the group plans to ask the Criminal Court in Paris to impose a ban on those violating the law as it currently stands, thereby prohibiting them from applying for a French licence for a number of years. The group said in a statement this week that the ECJ ruling had “removed any possibility for defence for the violators, who have so far based themselves on the position of EC Commissioner McGreevy."


Register Now! - Malta iGaming Seminar 09

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Join us for the exclusive Malta iGaming Seminar which is being hosted on Thursday, 8th October 2009 at Le Meridien, St. Julians, Malta. Get an insight on how your business can benefit from the incentives that have been introduced by the Maltese government over the last few years. At MiGS09, delegates who are interested in setting up or relocating to Malta will get the chance to meet with some of the key local suppliers to the industry, enabling them to gauge the quality of services and products available to them in Malta. We will also hear the whole story from the CEO''s of two of the top gaming companies who have already relocated to Malta, including their recommendations, while also learning about the incentives that are available to them by local authorities. A section of the event is also going to be dedicated to round table discussions, where clients, vendors & authorities alike will be discussing current market conditions and what could be done to enhance further the processes that make Malta Europe''s jurisdiction of excellence. Several social and networking events are also planned. LIMITED NUMBER OF ATTENDEES! Register NOW at: www.maltaigamingseminar.com


Amended French Gaming Bill Receives EC Approval

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The European Commission has given France the all clear to proceed with the partial liberalisation of its online gaming market, following amendments to the draft gaming bill by the Finance Committee of the National Assembly. The amendments were made in response to a Reasoned Opinion on the text of the draft bill by the Commission, which questioned a number of aspects of the proposed law.The Commission had told the French authorities that by imposing restrictions on the provision and promotion of sports betting services by operators who are legally established in another Member State, France had failed to fulfil its obligations under Article 49 of the EC Treaty. In the revised text submitted to the EC, France has agreed to take into consideration the regulatory control and sanctions regime in the country of residence of the operator applying for a license. The Commission had also questioned French assertions that there is a high correlation between the rate of return for winners and addiction, an assertion which led to France’s proposed maximum payout ratio of 85%.In its response to the amended text, the Commission noted the fact that the provision applies equally to both national operators and operators holding a license in another member state of the EU. The Committee also said it noted the concerns of the French authorities with respect to the public and social order, but added that it would like to receive further proof substantiating the need for such measures. The Commission said it would accept the French authorities’ proposal to investigate the advantages of such a provision from the point of view of social and public order, within two years after the bill enters into force. The Commission also welcomed clarification from France regarding the requirement for the location of servers within the country. In the amended text presented to the Commission, France has clarified that such a requirement only refers to the storage of data, not operating servers.With regard to the contentious issue of the rights of sports organisers, the Commission noted that article 52 of the bill confines the field of existing ownership rights uniquely to those agreed upon by French sports federations under the code of sports, and that the measures apply equally to both national and foreign operators. Under these circumstances, the Commission said it would accept a commitment from the French authorities to issue a report two years after the measure enters into force, in particular with regard to the impact on free circulation of services, but also on the contribution from such measures to the development of sports and to ensuring the integrity of sports. The revised draft bill is now expected to be presented to the National Assembly in October. Once the revised bill is approved, the French authorities will be required to communicate the text as adopted to the EC for final approval


Court Upholds U.S. Ban on Internet Gambling

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

A U.S. appeals court upheld a federal ban on Internet gambling, but the ruling appeared to open the door for states to have more say on the matter. In a decision handed down Tuesday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit rejected a claim by New Jersey-incorporated Interactive Media Entertainment & Gaming Association that current laws aimed at cracking down on online gambling are too vague, unconstitutional and infringe on an individual''s right to privacy. The decision comes amid a struggle between the Justice Department, which wants to shut down the online-gambling industry, and several members of Congress who are advocating legalization and view it as a potentially important revenue generator. The court''s decision upheld the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006, which banned credit-card companies or other institutions from processing payments for online betting. "We''re disappointed that the court didn''t overturn the law," said Joe Brennan Jr., chairman of Interactive Media, which sued the Justice Department, the Federal Reserve and the Federal Trade Commission. But, he said that language in the decision appearing to place the issue under state jurisdiction was a silver lining. "We lost the decision," he said. "But the court gave us an awful lot to work with going forward." The court said, "It bears repeating that the Act itself does not make any gambling activity illegal. Whether the transaction in Interactive''s hypothetical constitutes unlawful Internet gambling turns on how the law of the state from which the bettor initiates the bet would treat that bet." Mr. Brennan said there are six states where Internet gambling would violate state laws. Thus, "There are 44 states where this is an opportunity for Internet gaming to become regulated and normalized," he said. A few months ago, federal authorities in New York froze bank accounts holding $34 million belonging to 27,000 online-poker players, and last September the state of Kentucky received a court order to seize more than 100 Internet-gambling sites that it said were operating illegally. Opponents of online gambling say such activity would promote gambling addictions and attract minors. However, critics of the ban say the laws remain murky and are sometimes contradicted by state laws. The casino industry is also divided on the issue. The American Gaming Association is neutral on online gambling "due to the divergent views of our members. There is not a consensus," said Holly Thomsen, director of communications for the trade group, noting that Harrah''s Entertainment and MGM Mirage had expressed some interest in Internet gambling. In May, Rep. Barney Frank, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, proposed legislation to legalize and regulate Internet gambling so that revenue could be taxed and consumers would have some protections. The legislation is pending in the committee.


Online casino rules for Estonia begin at New Year

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Estonia has crafted strict online casino regulations that seem to still fit EU requirements, allowing implementation to start at the beginning of the year. Regulations covering online casino operation in the country were passed by the legislature and will be implemented in January of 2010. While the Estonia Gambling Act recognizes the licenses of Internet gaming operators based in other EU countries, it still requires one of several options to permit legal online casino gambling. Foreign operators will be required to apply for a license to operate in Estonia. But, for those already licensed elsewhere who decide acquiring an Estonian permit may not be economical, the country will allow subcontracting between licensed state operators and foreign online casinos. Licensing in Estonia will depend on type or types of gaming intended. Companies must show themselves to be properly incorporated and capitalized, and submit to background checks. Online casinos must have age checking and responsible gaming programs. Servers determining game results must be on Estonian land and accessible to regulators or independent auditors. For unlicensed online casinos without Estonian partnership, Internet service providers will be required to block access if informed a site is operating illegally. Money transfers by payment processors is also forbidden if the processor is notified the casino is illegally running. Yogonet.com / Online Casino Advisory


EU law may allow bans on foreign bet websites-court

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

European Union law may let countries ban foreign gambling websites if the intention is to stop crime, the bloc''s top court said on Tuesday in a judgment that will reverberate through the betting industry. Shares in Austrian online gambling group bwin -- one of Europe''s biggest Internet bookmakers -- tumbled more than 5 percent on the news. The ruling is a setback for online gaming groups, which have launched a series of legal challenges to domestic betting monopolies, because it could make it harder for them to open up shop around the 27-country EU. The case concerns a dispute between the Portuguese state betting monopoly, Santa Casa, and bwin, which owns the website Betandwin (Vienna: BWIN.VI - news) .com. Santa Casa had sought to break up a sponsorship deal involving the Portuguese football league that allowed bwin to advertise its website to fans. In its ruling on Tuesday, the European Court of Justice said: ''The prohibition imposed on operators such as bwin of offering games of chance via the Internet may be regarded as justified by the objective of combating fraud and crime.'' No one at bwin was immediately available for comment. European Lotteries, the EU lobby group representing national lotteries, welcomed the ruling. ''This strengthens the hand of national governments and lotteries in controlling what gambling takes place on the Internet,'' said Rupert Hornig, the group''s EU representative.


ECJ rules in bwin v Santa Casa

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) today published its judgment in the preliminary ruling proceedings bwin and Liga Portuguesa de Futebol Profissional v the Portuguese monopoly Santa Casa da Misericórdia de Lisboa. In these proceedings, the ECJ assessed whether the Portuguese sports betting and lottery monopoly and its extension to include the internet is compliant with EU law. In particular, the ECJ examined "whether the freedom to provide services precludes the Portuguese legislation in so far as the latter prohibits operators such as bwin, established in other Member States where they lawfully provide similar services, from offering games of chance via the internet in Portugal. In its decision, the Court finds "that the Portuguese legislation constitutes a restriction on the freedom to provide services. The Court also maintains "that restrictions on the freedom to provide services may be justified by overriding reasons relating to the public interest. However, the Court notes that the restrictive measures that Member States may impose must satisfy certain conditions: they must be suitable for achieving the objective or objectives invoked by the Member State concerned, and they must not go beyond what is necessary in order to achieve those objectives. Lastly, in any event, those restrictions must be applied without discrimination. The ECJ concludes that prohibiting private providers from offering games of chance via the internet is compatible with Community law. However, the Court overlooks the fact that respectable private providers such as bwin are just as able to control gaming in the internet as state monopolies. Internet warrants greater security than brick-and-mortar gaming Using this IT-based medium, highest security standards can be met to warrant customer protection and fraud control in particular. As founding member of the European Gaming and Betting Association, bwin helped develop the compulsory Code of Conduct for private online gaming providers. This Code stipulates strict controls which, given the transparency of the internet, have proven more efficient in the internet than in traditional brick-and-mortar gaming and, in particular, conclusively prevent any type of fraud. The European Sports Association, whose efforts also serve to prevent betting manipulation, has successfully been able to implement this. Internet Gaming is Market Reality - It's time for legislators to act Today's decision once again underscores that a modern regulation of online gaming is indispensable in order to protect consumers. Co-CEO Norbert Teufelberger comments on this ECJ decision: Internet legislation contains technical requirements and the Commission must be notified of these before they come into force. This was not done in the present case. As the national court did not consider the notification issue, the ECJ refrained from addressing the matter. It will therefore have to be resolved in the national proceedings. In so doing, the national court will surely go by the statements of Advocate General Bot who pointed out that no penalties could be imposed as no notification had been made. And he added: A legal vacuum has emerged in the European gaming sector because of the rapid pace of technological progress. Among other things, this is borne out by over a dozen preliminary ruling proceedings still pending before the ECJ as well as numerous infringement proceedings against EU Member States which the European Commission has so far put on hold. As a transparent company listed at the stock exchange, it has therefore always been our ambition to change this situation as quickly as possible and to offer our line-up in a regulated environment marked by legal security. Co-CEO Manfred Bodner continues: "Online gaming has become a market reality. There is urgent need to develop a legal framework in tune with the times to warrant the interest of consumers, the state and operators. Court rulings will not be able to fill in for a regulation in the medium and long run. Norbert Teufelberger specifies: "Only a regulated online gaming market with a diversified and attractive line-up of games will provide adequate security against the risks of a black market which in fact not only opens up the floodgates to crime but also passes up on consumer protection. This is why a growing number of Member States, including Great Britain, Italy or France, have reacted. We are confident that Portugal will also set the course for an attractive regulated online gaming market. Background information on the ECJ proceedings bwin and Liga Portuguesa de Futebol Profissional (LPFP) v the Portuguese monopoly Santa Casa da Misericordia de Lisboa (SCML): In August 2005, bwin signed a sponsoring agreement with LPFP for a period of four playing seasons. In view of Portuguese law, which grant SCML sole authority to negotiate sports bets, SCML filed a number of lawsuits, including infringement proceedings, against bwin and LPFP. An administrative penalty was imposed on bwin and LPFP and they lodged an appeal. The court entrusted with the case in Portugal referred a list of questions on the interpretation of the Portuguese gaming monopoly under EU law to the ECJ. What are preliminary ruling proceedings? The Court of Justice works together with all courts in the Member States. They are responsible for the application of Community law. To ensure the effective and consistent application of Community law and to prevent diverging interpretations, national courts can (and in some cases must) address the Court of Justice and request it to interpret Community law in order to verify compatibility of their national legislation with Community law. A preliminary ruling may also requested for verification of the validity of a Community act.


US and China want free trade, except for online gambling

Monday, August 10, 2009

"The United States and China are among the biggest beneficiaries of the global trading system," said Timothy Geithner, US Trade Secretary, "and share a common interest in ensuring that global trade and investment remain open and rules-based." Part of those rules that Geithner is speaking about involve online gambling. The US is already in trouble with the European Commission. The Commission has given the US a grace period to clean up their Internet gambling laws so as to come into compliance with European Union trade agreements. The US has yet to adhere to the warning. The next step for the EU would be to bring the case to the World Trade Organization. If the US wants to remain in good graces with the WTO, they would be smart to correct their online gambling laws. Representative Barney Frank is one of the lawmakers who understands the importance of overturning the Unlawful Internet Gambling Act of 2006. Frank is representing millions of people in the US that want to be free to gamble online legally if they choose to do so. China is in a similar situation as the US when it comes to online gambling laws. The government has ordered filters, so that residents cannot access Internet gambling sites. The two countries are talking a good game for free trade, but their actions are not corresponding with their words. Yogonet.com / Casino Gambling Web


Canadian charged in US in Internet gambling case

Monday, August 10, 2009

WASHINGTON — A Canadian resident was indicted in the United States on fraud and related charges for processing some 350 million dollars for Internet gambling firms, officials said Thursday. According to the indictment unsealed in New York, Douglas Rennick was charged with bank fraud and other offenses stemming from his role in a scheme to disguise the transactions to distribute gambling winnings to US residents. The Justice Department said that from 2007 to June 2009, Rennick opened bank accounts in the United States under various corporate names and "falsely represented that the accounts would be used for such purposes as issuing rebate checks, refund checks, sponsorship checks, affiliate checks and minor payroll processing." Authorities said Rennick, 34, and unnamed co-conspirators used the accounts "to receive funds from offshore Internet gambling companies that offered, variously, poker, blackjack, slots and other casino games." Rennick and others "then disbursed those funds via checks to US residents seeking to cash out their gambling winnings." The indictment charged that Rennick and others "provided false and misleading information to US banks about the purpose of the accounts because the banks would not have processed the transactions had they known they were gambling-related." It said Rennick and the co-conspirators processed more than 350 million dollars transferred from a Cyprus bank account to various US bank accounts for this purpose. If found guilty, Rennick faces a maximum term of 30 years in prison and fines of more than one million dollars for bank fraud, money laundering and other charges. The indictment also seeks the forfeiture of at least 565 million dollars. American officials say Internet gambling by US residents is illegal even if the websites are owned by foreign operators, but has focused prosecution on those involved in financial transactions. A law passed in 2006 bans US banks, credit card and financial companies from handling Internet gambling bets but rules have yet to be implemented, amid criticism that it would be an enforcement nightmare. It is set to go into effect December 1, 2009. Some US trading partners have complained that the US ban violated World Trade Organization rules.


Sports betting to add $56m+ to New Jersey tax base, iMEGA says

Monday, August 10, 2009

SPORTS betting will contribute at least US$56m a year to New Jersey’s coffers next year if a legal challenge to a 17-year-old federal ban on sports betting proves successful, according to estimates by the Interactive Media Entertainment & Gaming Association (iMEGA). The law suit over the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1991 sports betting ban was filed against the government in a federal court in March by state senator Raymond Lesniak, iMEGA and two groups representing horse racing interests in the US state, and argues that the law is unconstitutional as it discriminates against the people of New Jersey as it exempted the states of Delaware, Montana, Nevada and Oregon, which had laws allowing sports betting on the books at the time the law was passed . According to the data provided to iMEGA by consultancy Las Vegas Sports Consultants (LVSC), legalised sports betting at New Jersey’s three race tracks, in its Atlantic City’s casinos and over the telephone and internet would generate more than US$607m in gross win in 2010. Calculated on the basis of the basic 8% plus 1.25% community tax rate currently levied on the net gaming revenue (NGR) of the state’s casinos, this means the state would net US$56m in tax revenue during 2010. The state could stand to reap more than US$100m in revenues during 2010 if it levied a minimum tax rate of 16.5%. Faced with a budget deficit set to grow to as much as US$2.5bn by next April and Atlantic City’s revenues being further hit by neighbouring Delaware’s plan to introduce sports betting and table games at its racetracks, New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine recently tried to join the legal challenge. However the US DOJ has moved to block this move, arguing the constitutional claims the governor is seeking to advance do not belong to him and opposing his involvement on the basis that Corzine “[has] no cognizable interest in this litigation.” iMEGA chairman Joe Brennan called the DOJ’s move a “curious tactic” to ward off the suit. “The governor is the duly elected chief executive of his state, and New Jersey obviously has an interest in overturning a law which confers a huge competitive advantage to the only four states that the law (PASPA) protects for sports betting,” he said. The case continues. source - www.egrmagazine.com


RGA pursues prosecution indemnity for members as EU-US WTO talks resume

Monday, July 27, 2009

Clive Hawskwood of the Remote Gambling Association (RGA) has said indemnity from prosecution, not compensation, remains the goal of his members’ EU-backed complaint to the US over its discriminatory treatment of their gambling businesses. The chief executive of the online gaming operators’ trade body was speaking to EGRmagazine.com after it emerged the dispute would be one of the four bilateral trade issues that US Trade Representative Ron Kirk and EU Trade Commissioner Catherine Ashton will be focusing on over the coming months. The RGA’s complaint highlights the uneven treatment, when compared to their US counterparts, meted out to European and other foreign online operators by the US Department of Justice (DOJ) in relation to activities which took place before the US withdrew from its World Trade Organization (WTO) commitments in December 2007. “The aim is to secure what the European Commission deems is a reliable undertaking that EU gambling interests won’t be pursued by the DOJ for activities which should have been under protection of WTO agreements. There’s no issue of compensation,” RGA chief executive Hawkswood told EGRmagazine.com. Hawkswood however admitted that the apparent breach of international laws by the US on free trade has helped broaden the political debate around gambling prompted by Congressman Barney Frank’s current drive to repeal the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA). “Our complaint has interested many politicians who previously had no interest in gambling, and have said to us: ‘We are the champion of the WTO and global free trade, so if we don’t stand behind this, how can we expect any other countries to do so?’,” said Hawkswood. Although Frank himself has called the breach of WTO laws raised by the RGA complaint “further argument” for repealing UIGEA, Hawkswood said the RGA remained focused on its main goal of securing a non-prosecution agreement from the DOJ. “The implication of the complaint is that, yes, the US should bring its gambling rules into compliance with global rules on foreign trade, but the main issue for the RGA and its members is securing this indemnity from prosecution. Then we can talk about the other issues.” With the complaint on the agenda for the next three meetings between the USTR and EU Trade Commissioner, Hawkwood is hopeful of a resolution by spring 2010. source - www.egrmagazine.com


EGBA opposes French sports betting right

Friday, July 24, 2009

At the Parliament, the Minister is likely to defend the idea of a sports betting right to “preserve the integrity of sports”. Maarten Haijer, Director for Regulatory Affairs said: “The EGBA is opposed to what would be a precedent in Europe: there is no link between a sports betting right and the integrity of sport.” Integrity is of the utmost importance to both sports and betting operators. Sports betting operators only stand to lose customers and reputation from match fixing. That is why all online bets of EGBA members are monitored real time by the European Sports Security Association (ESSA), and any suspicious betting patterns are immediately forwarded to a wide range of sports federations such as the IOC, ATP, UEFA and FIFA. It is claimed that the envisaged commercial contract between the sport federations and the operators would – next to the obvious financial gain – allow the federations to control the bets. Maarten Haijer points out though: “This makes the sports federations the promoter, the regulator and the judge of their own sport. But isn’t it crucial to separate rather than combine these three functions to avoid any conflict of interest?" “Restricting the bets that can be taken within a regulatory framework will have a perverse effect. It will simply ensure that those set on corrupting sport will focus on those bets that are not permitted; with no regulatory oversight or early warning system as provided by the betting industry, they will have a free hand” adds Maarten Haijer. As betting and sports are cross-border activities, so is the issue of integrity. “A national approach to an international challenge cannot be an effective means to deal with integrity”, adds Maarten Haijer. At EU level, the European Court of Justice and the European Commission have already made clear that sports federations are not the proprietors of rights such as fixture lists and data. Logically, as this is information in the public domain, freely used by journalists and travel agencies alike. If the intention is to ensure increased revenues for sport federations, the Minister should allocate more tax revenues to fund all sports rather than introducing a right that could only benefit the commercially most attractive sports federations. However, if the real purpose is to ensure the integrity of sports, then effective measures are needed. Corruption needs to be tackled from all angles, including through education of athletes. A WADA (World Anti Doping Agency) style agency to fight corruption in sports would be a very effective and credible initiative. According to Maarten Haijer “The EGBA would welcome the Ministers´ commitment to the creation of a WADA-style agency, and we would be eager to bring in our knowledge and experience to make it effective”. The EGBA hopes that the French Government will take into account all concerns expressed by the industry, the European Commission and other Member States in amending its proposals. Yogonet.com


United States, European Union to Resume Negotiations over Online Gambling

Monday, July 20, 2009

Incoming US Trade Representative Ron Kirk and European Union Trade Commissioner Catherine Ashton met last week in Washington D.C., later announcing the resumption of talks in four bilateral trade issues, including online gambling. According to international wire reports, the two officials discussed a recent EU-issued trade report that quantified the losses suffered by EU-based online firms since the United States’ passage and implementation of the 2006 Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act. The EU was one of several blocs or individual countries that filed claims against the United States over the issue, alleging US violations of World Trade Organization agreements. The Bush administration, led at the time by USTR head Susan Schwab, maintained a hard-line approach on the issue, instead announcing the US’s intent to withdraw from its GATS (General Agreement on Trade in Services) commitments governing the online issue, following years of setbacks in a WTO case brought by the tiny island nation of Antigua & Barbuda, the home of many other online firms. The Obama administration has yet to indicate its stance on the matter, with US legislation that would in essence repeal the UIGEA and create a regulatory framework scheduled for hearings this fall. That legislation, championed by House Financial Services Committee chairman Barney Frank (D-MA), remains as a possible card to be played in future US/EU negotiations on the matter. Source - www.pokernews.com


UK freeze on White List as DCMS reviews egaming regulation

Monday, July 20, 2009

The UK government has confirmed that it will not be granting White List status to any new applicants as it undertakes a review of the legislation around the UK Gambling Act. The freeze on jurisdictions being granted White List status, which allows egaming operators based in those jurisdictions to advertise in the UK, comes as leading UK-based bookmakers earlier this year called on the government to create a level playing field so they could compete with operators based in offshore jurisdictions. The government will look at the 15% gross profits tax levels and costs such as the horseracing levy and VAT the UK-based operators are subject to and assess how offshore operators can be made to contribute to the levy and issues such as the fight against problem gambling. The Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), which is carrying out the review, confirmed the White List freeze but would not comment on any other issue. The review will address some of those wider European regulatory issues. But this does not mean the UK will go down the same route as countries such as France and Italy, which have effectively ‘ring-fenced’ their markets to EU-licensed operators by only allowing operators licensed on the mainland to advertise and take bets from their citizens. The review findings will be submitted to the DCMS by the end of 2009.


Belgian draft legislation rejected by European Commission

Monday, July 13, 2009

The European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) welcomes the European Commission’s detailed opinion against the Belgian proposal for online gaming and betting. The draft legislation is supposed to restrict the online gaming and betting market to operators solely established in Belgium. Maarten Haijer, EGBA Director for Regulatory Affairs said: “The requirement for operators to be established in Belgium is one of the clearest violations of EC Treaty provisions. It wrongly denies that many online gaming operators are effectively regulated, licensed and controlled elsewhere in the EU. As several jurisdictions in the EU already prove, it is possible to guarantee a high level of consumer protection and have a well regulated and competitive online gaming and betting market at the same time. ” The Belgian draft law was notified to the European Commission and the other Member States on 27 March 2009. A detailed legal analysis carried out on behalf of EGBA highlighted a number of issues highly doubtful under EC law: the requirement for operators to be established in Belgium; the unjustified limitation of the number of available licenses; the unjustified restrictions on the freedom to provide services, and criminal sanctions on consumers wishing to play with EU licensed operators. This is the second detailed opinion from the Commission against recent draft legislation for online gaming and betting in a short period. On 8 June France received a detailed opinion against its proposed legislation because it also violates several Treaty provisions. Both proposals seem to have in common that they view the online gaming and betting market on a strictly national level. Both Belgium and France also intend to introduce ISP blocking to prevent consumers playing with EU licensed and regulated operators. France earlier already received a detailed opinion against that proposal as well. “ISP blockings cannot impose territorial boundaries on the Internet. Experience shows that such restrictions are difficult to implement, easy to circumvent, inefficient and foster the growth of an underground market” Maarten Haijer added. Today’s detailed opinion extends the standstill period until 30 July 2009, during which time Belgium cannot adopt its draft legislation. The country is required to reply to the Commission’s views before adopting the legislation. If Belgium decides to adopt the current text without taking into account the Commission’s objections, it can immediately launch infringement proceedings. Yogonet.com


Representative Barney Frank optimistic for online gambling bill at WSOP

Monday, July 13, 2009

A Democratic congressman at the World Series of Poker to rally support for legalizing and regulating Internet gambling says he thinks he can get a bill passed by next year. Representative Barney Frank of Massachusetts told nearly 1,700 players Sunday at the no-limit Texas Hold ''''em main event that he viewed Internet gambling as a right that must be protected. Phil Hellmuth, an 11-time gold bracelet winner at series who won the main event 20 years ago, says online gambling will grow worldwide regardless of whether U.S. lawmakers soften their stance. A 2006 law prohibits financial institutions from taking credit card payments, checks or electronic transfers to settle online wagers. The Justice Department viewed Internet gambling as illegal even before that. Yogonet.com / Fox News


New report finds that online gambling is not susceptible to money laundering

Monday, July 13, 2009

A report produced by MHA Consulting for the RGA concluded that a combination of statutory and self regulation had effectively reduced the risk of money laundering through online gambling and that there were almost no examples of money laundering in licensed jurisdictions. Some of the report’s key findings were that: • the absence of cases and examples of money laundering and terrorist financing within the remote gambling industry appear to indicate that the risks are low; • there was a strong commitment within the industry to prevent and detect money laundering and terrorist financing, to comply with the various legislative and regulatory requirements and to co-operate with the authorities; • whilst no service sector can be immune from the attention of criminals, there appears to be little evidence to support the view that remote gambling has, to date being particularly susceptible to money laundering and terrorist financing; and • online gambling is not a likely accessible avenue for money laundering because: the identities of the gamblers are known; the financial transactions between the bettors and operators are all in electronic format; and all of the wagering is recorded. Clive Hawkswood, the RGA’s Chief Executive, commented: “In the past a combination of misperception and misinformation has led many to believe that money laundering is a particular problem for the online gambling industry. That is quite clearly not the case and we hope this report will go some way to dispelling those often quoted myths and introduce a greater level of objectivity whenever these issues are debated”. “However, we are still a relatively new industry dealing with a relatively new framework of money laundering regulations. The industry has risen to the challenge, but cannot rest on its laurels and we will certainly be following up on the recommendations made in the Report”. source - http://www.sports-city.org


European Commission rendered a detailed opinion on the French bill

Monday, July 13, 2009

The European Commission has urged France to review the bill regarding the opening of the French remote gambling market. Following the notification of the French bill regarding the opening of the remote gambling market, the European Commission rendered a detailed opinion last June 8. The French authorities are urged to clarify and amend some of the provisions of the bill in order to ensure the bill's compatibility with European law. The first objection relates to article 16 of the bill and the system put in place for issuing licences. According to the Commission, this rule restricts the freedom to provide services (Art 49 EC Treaty). To be compatible with European law, the French authorities are requested to clarify to which extend they will take into account the requirements of the legal system under which the operator is already licensed. The second objection pertains to Article 52 of the bill which provides for an obligation for all licensed operators to obtain consent from the operating right owner of the sport event. According to the Commission, such a requirement could constitute a restriction to the freedom to provide services, as the betting offer would become less attractive. The third remark questions the justification of article 8 of the bill: French Government has to prove the necessity of this restriction. According to this provision, a maximum payback ratio is foreseen, whereby the Commission considers this might constitute an infringement to the freedom to provide services. In this respect, the French authorities are urged to adduce evidence concerning the link between the rate of return and fight against addiction. The last objection is related to article 39 of the bill which states for an obligation to have a fiscal representative established in France. This might constitute a restriction to the freedom to provide services, even despite the argumentation given by the French Government according to which this disposition is meant to ensure an effective fiscal supervision. Such an argumentation is not accepted, considering that such an obligation is disproportionate and can be replaced by a less restrictive measure. This opinion obliges France to postpone the adoption of the law for one additional month. The new deadline ends on the 8 of July. If the French Government does not modify the bill by the 8 of July, 2009 or ignores the EC opinion, it takes the risk that the Commission decides to launch an infringement procedure. Yogonet.com / GamblingLaw.eu


Anti-UIGEA legal fight on track, iMEGA boss Brennan says

Monday, July 13, 2009

The man leading the legal fight against UIGEA, Joe Brennan, has dismissed media reports that his battle against America’s online gambling ban in the courts this week stumbled. Brennan is chairman of internet freedom lobby group the Interactive Media Entertainment & Gaming Association (iMEGA). iMEGA is bringing a court challenge to have America’s Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) egaming ban declared unconstitutional. Together with the US Department of Justice (DoJ), which was defending UIGEA, iMEGA lawyers presented oral arguments in the US 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals this week. Most subsequent media reports said UIGEA is likely to withstand the challenge, with US legal journal Law.com saying that judges were ‘unimpressed’ by iMEGA’s arguments. However speaking to EGRmagazine.com today, Brennan argued that reporters had failed to understand the difference in approach between appellant and trial court hearings. “When our members read the media reports I think they will think that we got our as*es kicked, and I want them all to know that it’s not as bad as that,” he said. “At trial level judges are passive, but at appellant level most of the work is done in advance of the hearing, and in some cases the judges won’t entertain oral arguments at all. “Our lawyers told me flat out before we went into it to get ready to be humble because that’s what those appellant judges do: they will go to work on your argument and grind you down on it, but that’s not a problem. Appellant decisions are intellectual exercises by judges who do their own research - 90% occurs outside the court room.” The hearing, which took just half an hour, took place in the US Court in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.US 3rd circuit judges typically reach a decision within three months. iMEGA is challenging UIGEA on the grounds that Congress failed to clearly define online gambling in the law, making it “critically vague”, Brennan said. “A requirement of law in this country is that a reasonable person has to be able to know if they are breaking the law and with UIGEA that is not the case.” It is also challenging UIGEA in that the law compels banks and credit card companies to police online gambling transactions and to use state laws to determine if a transaction is unlawful when only four states have rules explicitly prohibiting egaming, Brennan said, and when no uniform definition of "unlawful Internet gambling" was provided by the US Congress when it created the law. The 3rd circuit has the power to overturn the law, although the DOJ will have the option of then appealing the decision in a higher court if it loses. If iMEGA loses, it would have the option of asking for an ‘en banc’ appeal, which means having the case reviewed by all 11 judges in the 3rd circuit, instead of just the three involved in the original decision, or it could appeal to the US Supreme Court. Asked whether he expected iMEGA to win or lose, Brennan said only “ask me that in 48 hours” Asked whether or not he expected the US authorities to appeal if UIGEA is struck down, Brennan said: “UIGEA was passed under a different administration. The decision will be based on the priorities of the set by the new administration, and I can’t predict what Obama’s priorities will be.” source - www.egrmagazine.com


US to legalise online gambling; worth $12bn, Goldman Sachs predicts

Monday, July 13, 2009

AMERICA WILL legalise online gambling to create a combined US online poker and casino market worth up to $12bn, Goldman Sachs predicts. “We believe it is logical to assume that the US market will eventually regulate – given the potential implications for US tax take, if nothing else,” the bank said in a note to investors today. “Based on a simple ‘grossing up’ of PartyGaming’s rake relative to its 9% market share, the US poker market alone was worth $1.5bn in 2008” the report concluded, a figure which concurs with those from gambling data specialists H2. “Were the market to be legalized, we believe that the size of the revenue opportunity could increase materially,” it continued. “Based on an assumption of 30% penetration of offline poker players and $300 gross gaming revenue (GGR) per player, we estimate that a legal poker market could be worth $3bn.” The report continued: “Were GGR to increase to 45%, and GGR per player rise to $400, the size of the poker market alone could be worth $6bn. We also estimate that the casino market could expand to a similar scale, based on various offline penetration assumptions.” The investment bank cautioned that progress on regulating online gambling at federal level will be slow, however, and that faster progress would be made a state level. As reported on EGRmagazine.com, debate of Congressman Barney Frank’s bill to repeal UIGEA has been delayed until September, while state-level initiatives such as those to legalise online poker in California or legal internet poker in Florida are moving more quickly. “The momentum at state level, where widening state budget deficits are ratcheting up financial pressures, is clearly building,” the report concluded. “Indeed, if California and Florida move forward with legislation to legalise online poker, this could prove the catalyst for other states to follow suit”. Goldman Sachs’ conclusions mirror those of former PartyGaming chief executive and current Harrah’s Interactive Entertainment boss Mitch Garber, who predicts that the USA will legalise online gambling in an interview on EGRmagazine.com today. source -www. egrmagazine.com


US Court sets July date for iMEGA's UIGEA challenge

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The US 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals has set a date of July 7th to hear oral arguments from lawyers representing the Interactive Media Entertainment & Gaming Association (iMEGA) and the US Department of Justice, as part of a court challenge by iMEGA against the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA). Arguments will be heard at 10am on July 7th at the U.S courthouse in Philadelphia, with a three-judge panel deciding the case. Judge Dolores Korman Sloviter, a Carter appointee, Judge Thomas L Ambro, a Clinton appointee, and Judge Kent A Jordan, a George W. Bush appointee, have been confirmed as the three-judge panel. iMEGA will be represented by Eric M Bernstein, who first argued to have the UIGEA overturned in a U.S District Court, and Stephen A Saltzburg, a professor at the George Washington University school of law and former deputy attorney-general of the United States. The defendants, the US Department of Justice, the Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Reserve, will be represented by Nicholas J Bagley and Jacqueline E Coleman of the U.S DoJ’s civil division in Washington, DC. "This law will finally have to stand on it’s own two feet in court, free from politics and all other outside influences," said iMEGA Chairman Joe Brennan Jr. "We feel very confident that when the judges take a look at the law, they will see just how defective it is, and they will overturn it." Yogonet.com


EU contends US Internet gambling laws create ‘adverse trade effects’ for Malta

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

When arguing its case against the United States’ Internet gambling laws with the World Trade Organisation, the European Commission highlighted the example of Malta as a case in point demonstrating the ‘adverse trade effects’, within the syntax of the Trade Barriers Regulation, the situation is having on the Maltese economy. In its report on US laws on remote gambling and their enforcement against EU companies, following an investigation into the US measures and how they are affecting foreign suppliers of Internet gambling services, the European Commission has concluded that the US measures constitute an obstacle to trade that is inconsistent with WTO rules. The EC highlighted the cases of Malta, the UK and Gibraltar, and, to a lesser extent, those of Ireland, Sweden, Cyprus and Austria. Focusing on Malta, the report found that, “As a result of the obstacle to trade, Malta has suffered a non quantified but significant negative impact on its economic activity and employment.” It added, “According to data provided by Malta’s government to the Commission services during the investigation, the contribution of the gaming industry to Malta’s GDP in 2007 was 5.4 per cent, and 6.3 per cent of the total gross value added of the Maltese economy. Moreover, the sector in Malta had a 12 per cent market share of the industry in 2007, and employed a total of 1,882 staff as of June 2008.” The report concludes that the US measures constitute an obstacle to trade that is inconsistent with WTO rules. As a result, WTO proceedings would be justified. At the same time, the report suggests that the issue should be addressed to the US Administration, with a view to finding a negotiated solution. European online gambling and betting companies left the US market in 2006, but still suffer legal proceedings by US authorities based on their past activities on the US market. The report comes to the conclusion that these proceedings are legally unjustified as well as discriminatory, because the activities of EU companies took place under the cover of US WTO commitments. Although WTO proceedings would be justified on the basis of the report, this is not an automatic consequence. The European Commission will now seek a satisfactory solution to its concerns through dialogue with the US Administration. The report takes into account the intention of the US to withdraw its WTO commitments on gambling and betting services. Once this withdrawal occurs, the US would no longer be obliged to guarantee future access to its gambling and betting market. However, the report found that a withdrawal only affects future access to the market, but does not allow the US to disregard its obligations in respect of past activities. The EU has developed the world’s leading Internet gaming business. Many of the world’s largest companies are licensed in and operate from the UK, Gibraltar, Malta, Ireland and Austria. There are significant back office operations providing technology, marketing and customer service support in other member states. Although accurate statistics on this sector are not readily available, the sector is economically significant, with an estimate of more than 10,000 staff employed by the Internet gaming industry in the EU, the report notes, adding how the sector also has a significant indirect economic impact on other sectors of the economy which are involved in providing the infrastructure that an Internet business requires, such as financial services, information technology and professional services. The study offers some useful insights into the remote gambling market, including the position of EU companies and the impact on employment. For example, it remarks that in Malta, “Gambling GGR as a percentage of GDP in 2003 was 7.3 per cent compared to the EU average of 0.7 per cent”, and concludes that EU companies enjoy a leading position in the world-wide remote gambling and betting market. In its report, the Commission noted that the EU has developed the world’s leading remote gaming business and that many of the world’s largest companies are licensed in and operate from Malta, the UK, Gibraltar, Ireland and Austria. Moreover, the report observes how there are significant back office operations providing technology, marketing and customer service support in those and in other members. The complaint the Commission is pursuing at WTO level originates from a London-based trade association, RGA, including in its membership several of the main Community enterprises offering remote gambling and betting services. Of the nine RGA members in the top 10 EU service providers referred to in the complaint, Unibet and Betfair (for games, casino and poker) are registered in Malta. The complaint contained estimates of the number of staff employed by the Internet gaming industry in the EU, provided by a specialised recruitment consultancy to the online gaming industry. According to the estimates, over 15,000 workers are employed by the Internet gaming industry in the EU, with a current annual growth rate of 10 per cent. Eight thousand employees in the UK; 2,000 in Malta; 2,000 in Gibraltar; 1,500 in Ireland; 500 in Sweden; 500 in Cyprus; 500 in Austria; and 500 in the rest of the EU. source - www.independent.com.mt


Italy to expand online gaming as revenues soar

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

With Italian online gambling spend in May increasing 261% year-on-year to a record 336.8 million euros, primarily as a result of growth in the online poker market, the Italian regulator, AAMS, is pushing forward with plans to license and regulate a much broader range of games. The decision to expand the licensing regime to also include poker cash games, casino games and a broader range of betting options has been driven in part by a need to finance reconstruction projects in the earthquake devastated region of Abruzzo, where local residents have taken to protest against the government for the slow pace of reconstruction. Speaking at a conference on Abruzzo last week, Francesco Rodano, Head of Remote Gaming at AAMS, said the new measures would further safeguard players and problem gamblers while helping to support reconstruction efforts in the region, admitting that previous attempts to block access to unlicensed online gaming sites had failed, making licensing and regulation the most effective means by which to protect consumers. According to Rodano, the level of taxation for the new games could be set as high as 20% of gross profits compared to the current level of 4.5% of gross revenue on sports betting and 3% on tournament poker and skill games. Italians spent a total of 1.5 billion euros on online gaming during the first five months of this year, an increase of 186% versus the same period last year. The growth was led by the online poker and skill games segment which achieved gross gaming revenues of 199.7 million euros in May, representing 59% of total Italian online gaming spend. Yogonet.com / Gaming Intelligence


Statement by the European Casino Association on the ERA conference

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Statement by the European Casino Association on the ERA conference "Gambling in the Internal Market” on 15 – 16 June 2009 The European Casino Association (ECA) appreciates the initiative taken by the Czech Presidency of the European Union (EU) to organise a conference in cooperation with the Academy of European Law (ERA) on the legal aspects of recent developments in the area of gambling services in the EU. The current situation of the gambling sector in the EU indeed urges for a constructive debate between Member States and the EU institutions to allow for a more structured approach, and hence the ECA sees the Czech Presidency''s decision to take up the discussions launched by Member States last year as a positive sign. However, the ECA would like to highlight its concerns regarding some significant shortcomings of this conference. In particular, the direction set for the conference is suggestive of a rather unbalanced approach. We deplore that a number of stakeholders accounting for a major part of the gambling sector, including the ECA as the representative voice for the casino industry in Europe, have not been invited to express their views during the conference and to participate actively in the debate. Nevertheless, the ECA is determined to contribute pro-actively to the European debate on gambling in a positive and constructive way and in that sense we feel committed to advance the following clarifications to the topics that will be discussed during the conference. • The ECA supports the findings of the European Parliament''s Resolution on the Integrity of Online Gambling (so-called Schaldemose Report). We suggest Member States make these findings an integral part of the discussions within the Council''s Establishment and Services Working Group, on which to base the further debate. • The ECA would like to recall an essential statement made by the Schaldemose Report, emphasising that in light of the very specific nature of gambling services,mere self regulation in the form of a code of conduct is not effective enoughand cannot be the way forward for the future of gambling services in the EU. Codes of conduct are only of supplementary value to regulation at national and European level. • The ECA does not support an approach whereby gambling services would be harmonised at EU level. Given the very specific nature of gambling services and the diverging historic, moral, social and cultural traditions in the different Member States, gambling is a matter, which in essence needs to remain regulated nationally. Member States are best placed to effectively control and regulate their gambling markets, with the aim to channel the gaming desire to authorised operators while steering it away from grey or illegal operators and minimising the undesirable effects of gambling. Only those specifically defined points, which cannot be solved at a national level, require an European solution. • Given its transnational character and the challenges inherent to it, online gambling is an area in relation to which an EU approach is justified and therefore should be properly regulated through a coordinated approach between the Member States. Online gambling is a reality that cannot and should not be ignored or avoided. A prohibition of online gambling can in the long term not be maintained and enforced in a European context. • In that regard, ECA emphasizes that it is of utmost importance that any European approach needs to ensure that a regulatory environment is created, which provides a fair level playing field. • Effective law enforcement is one of the main challenges Member States are currently facing in the area of gambling services. An urgent solution at EU level is needed to allow Member States to fight any offering of unauthorised or illegal online gambling services. A pan-European approach is needed to ensure compliance with and enforcement of national laws with a view to protect consumers and prevent fraud. • The ECA strongly promotes a regulated environment for gambling services in Europe, which considers corporate social responsibility and transparency of gambling operators and operations as a key priority. Source: European Casino Association


ISP block failure forces Italy to license poker cash games and casino games

Friday, June 12, 2009

The failure to block unlicensed gaming sites and the reconstruction of the Abruzzo region devastated by a major earthquake in April this year are the two reasons behind the Italian government’s push to license online poker cash games, casino games, betting exchanges and betting on virtual events in the next few months, eGaming Review has learned. Italy has had a list of sites blocked by the major internet service providers since it started licensing online poker tournament games and fixed odds sports betting nearly two years ago. However, Francesco Rodano, head of remote gaming at the Amministrazione autonoma dei monopoli dei Stato (AAMS), said a quick search for information was all it took for players to get around the block. The tax levels for the new games would be set at 20% of gross profits tax, which compares with the current 4.5% tax on gross gaming revenues in sports betting and 3% tax, also on gross gaming revenues, in poker tournaments and skill games. Rodano said the reason for the different tax rate was that in tournament poker the payout ratio was around 90% compared with payout levels of around 97% in cash games. “In tournament poker we can therefore take 3% of gross gaming revenues but that would not work in cash games as the operator takes a rake off every pot. We will therefore take the tax off operators’ rake, this will allow them to set the rake at commercially viable levels,“ Rodano explained. In parallel with French poker operators lobbying their government to allow international liquidity to play against French players (more), Rodano added that there were “fierce discussions” going on between poker sites with international liquidity and recently established Italian sites over whether to open Italian poker rooms to international liquidity. When asked about the problem gambling issues related to casino games, Rodano said: “We know this and that is why we want to regulate them: set the rules and control the play to avoid compulsive gaming. The online medium provides a great tool for controlling and monitoring players’ activity.” The draft legislation will be submitted to the European Commission in the next few months to be passed by the end of the year. http://www.egrmagazine.com/news/industry/167517/isp-block-failure-forces-italy-to-license-poker-cash-games-and-casino-games.thtml


Barney Frank responds to EU call for talks on US egaming law

Friday, June 12, 2009

Barney Frank, the US congressman behind a bill to overturn America’s Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) ban on internet gaming, has responded to the European Union (EU)’s call for America to begin talks to ensure European gaming companies are not discriminated against. As reported on EGRmagazine.com earlier today, the EU has urged the US to open talks on ending America’s ban on foreign egaming companies. The EU could seek compensation from the World Trade Organisation (WTO) on the basis that singling out European companies such as PartyGaming for enforcement actions while allowing US firms to operate freely is in breach of WTO trade rules. Frank, who is head of the US Financial Services Committee, said: “This is further argument for repealing the law which currently restricts the personal freedom of American adults to gamble online. "This report particularly shows the inconsistency of the Bush Administration, which frequently argued we had to abide by the WTO even when it cost American jobs, but ignored the WTO when it didn’t fit the conservatives’ ideological beliefs.” As reported on EGRmagazine.com, Frank’s Internet Gambling Regulation Consumer Protection & Enforcement Act regulation is seeking to overturn UIGEA


EU calls on US to drop gambling ban

Friday, June 12, 2009

EU calls on US to drop online gambling ban that they say breaks WTO rules BRUSSELS (AP) -- The European Union urged the United States on Wednesday to open talks on scrapping a ban on foreign online gambling companies, saying it breaks global trade rules. The EU says it could seek compensation from the World Trade Organization because the 2006 ban unfairly prevents foreign Internet gambling sites from operating in the United States. But it said it would hold off launching legal action until it had the chance to negotiate a solution with President Barack Obama''s administration -- another sign of a thaw in EU-U.S. relations since President George W. Bush left office. The European Commission said the U.S. ban shut out gambling sites such as Britain''s PartyGaming PLC and Sportingbet PLC from the lucrative $4 billion U.S. market, causing companies to lose revenue and stock market value. About half the world''s online gamblers are based in the U.S. Gambling companies claim the ban lost them up to $100 billion and have urged the EU to seek that amount of compensation in trade concessions under WTO rules. They say it was unfair that European companies could not operate in the United States while U.S. companies like Las Vegas Sands Corp. were free to offer Internet games to Europeans. Sands spokesman Ron Reese said Wednesday, however, that the casino company doesn''t offer any Internet gambling at all, and doing so would violate U.S. law. The EU said it could still sue the U.S. for breaking WTO rules, even though Washington wants to pull out of international commitments to open up its gambling and betting market. But EU officials want to avoid provoking the U.S. because they are hopeful that Obama will join a renewed push to strike a new WTO deal that would open up world trade, currently in free fall as recession in rich nations slashes demand for imported goods. The EU and U.S. recently agreed to end a long-running row on hormone treated beef that was aggravated by a U.S. move to add trade charges to a long list of European products -- from French Roquefort cheese to chewing gum -- days before Bush left office. Obama also has sought to assure the EU and Canada that "Buy America" provisions in the U.S. economic stimulus package would not spark a trade war by favoring U.S. steel, iron and manufactured goods for government projects over foreign suppliers. http://finance.yahoo.com/news/EU-calls-on-US-to-drop-apf-15492629.html?.v=6


Ukrainian confirms bill restricting gambling

Friday, June 12, 2009

Ukrainian parliament overrides presidential veto of bill to temporarily ban gambling KIEV, Ukraine (AP) -- Ukrainian lawmakers have passed a law that would ban all gambling until special zones for casinos are set up. The bill was initially adopted last month after a gambling-hall fire killed nine people. It called on the government to set up special areas where gambling could take place. Lawmakers overrode a presidential veto Thursday and said the law would help fight widespread gambling addiction. President Viktor Yushchenko vetoed the law last week after it sparked protests from the gambling business, whose representatives said 200,000 people would be put out of work. Yushchenko must now sign the bill into law within 10 days. http://finance.yahoo.com/news/Ukrainian-confirms-bill-apf-15500100.html?.v=1


France's new egaming law not legal; month to comply

Monday, June 08, 2009

The European Commission has found that France’s draft law to regulate online gaming and betting is not compliant with European law, and has given it a month to come up with a new version. The Commission’s detailed opinion addressed the key points of the draft law: the maximum payout ratio operators are allowed to give back to players, the restrictions on the freedom to provide services and the use of sporting events’ names. As reported on EGRmagazine.com, France plans to allow operators to pay out up to a maximum of 85% of their gross gaming win back to players (more), less than the industry average of 95-97%, because it claims there is a high correlation between the rate of return for winners and addiction to gambling. The commission said that it has asked the French authorities to provide evidence of this claim, but that none was offered. The Commission’s statement added: “A fixed maximum pay-back ratio could restrict the freedom to provide services under Article 49. It could prevent gaming operators established in a Member State of the EEA from taking normal business decisions or utilising efficiency advantages in order to offer higher pay-back ratios and thus become more attractive to customers.” The introduction of a maximum payout ratio for sport betting would also contradict the existing minimum payback ratio of 85% for slot machines, which is considered a much higher risk gaming activity, the statement added. In reference to Article 49 of the European Treaty, which ensures freedom of movement for companies licensed in other European member states, the Commission said it was not calling for an “automatic granting of an authorisation in France to providers legally operating in another member state”. However any restrictions on the freedom of such a provider to provide services had to be justified by imperative requirements in the general interest, such as consumer protection and the prevention of fraud, it said. The French draft also requires operators to gain permission from rights holders to use event names when offering betting products on said competitions. The Commission said that this would not “constitute a valid justification for the restrictive policy adopted”. Should France adopt its draft regulation without taking account of the objections made by the Commission in its detailed opinion, the latter reserves the right to take further proceedings against the country. The Commission has given France until 8 July to propose amendments to bring the draft law in line with EC law. source - www.egrmagazine.com


Belgian Liberalization Not without Sticking Points

Thursday, June 04, 2009

by Graham Wood Although a good deal of attention has been focused on the controlled opening in France, similar liberalization in Belgium is also on the way. However, the proposals for legalizing Internet betting in France''s smaller but no less affluent neighbor have proven to be more controversial. Betting in retail outlets has been legal since the 1990s and established operators like Ladbrokes and Stanleybet -- as well as Pari Mutuel Urbain, the French monopolist -- all have a foothold there. Belgium''s 1999 Gaming Act did not include online betting and gaming in the range of legal products, and over the last two years, the government has been studying new proposals for allowing operators to offer those services. Back in October 2007 when the French held their first conference to discuss market liberalization, Etienne Marique, who is president of Belgium''s Gaming Commission, was also present and cut a more combative figure than many on the podium. In the last 12 months, Mr. Marique made clear that Belgium was likely to follow a similar timetable as France, meaning licenses for online gaming would be available at the end of 2009 or beginning of 2010. He has also shown support for a closed Virtual Private Network -- similar to that adopted by the AAMS and Sogei authorities in Italy -- in order to control operators more closely. However, in March of this year, it became clear that the Belgians were also considering a more controversial route -- one that was certain to fall afoul of the European Union. It was then that Secretary of State Carl Devlies, the man in charge of introducing gambling reform in the country, revealed he was considering allowing only existing casino and betting operators to apply for online licenses. As in the case of all European countries seeking to amend their legislation, the Belgian proposals have to be sent for approval by the European Commission. There is now a “standstill period” until June 29. The less controversial aspects of the proposals include site blocking (similar to that adopted by the Italians), a 21-or-over age-limit restriction and a requirement that servers be located in the country. However, of interest to many operators is the suggestion that online casino games may also be regulated. If the proposals are approved, this would make Belgium the first country, of those adopting newly liberalized regimes, to allow games of chance online. France and Italy, recall, opted to allow only betting and card games. The new proposals, in line with the recommendations put forward by the Senate last year, still need to be approved by the Council of State, Belgium''s supreme administrative court. But with other countries in the region opting for change, and tens of thousands of Belgians playing on offshore Web sites, it is only a matter of time before a new regulatory environment is in place in the country. Source – www.igamingnews.com


British remote gambling rates rise

Thursday, June 04, 2009

In the UK, the Gambling Commission has released the results of a recent survey of 8,000 adults showing a slight increase in the percentage of adults that had participated in at least one form of remote gambling last year. For the twelve months to March, 9.9 % of the respondents said that they had participated in at least one form of gambling through a computer, mobile phone or interactive/digital television. This compares to 9.7 % for the 2008 calendar year, 8.8 % for 2007 and 7.2 % for 2006. However, over 90 % of those surveyed stated that they had not participated in any form of remote gambling while the Gambling Commission put the growth down to increased online participation in the National Lottery. The Gambling Commission revealed that 5.6 percent of respondents had participated in remote gambling in the year to March 2009 if the National Lottery is excluded, which is the same proportion as 2008. Overall, it stated that 7.5 % of those surveyed stated that they had gambled remotely on National Lottery tickets in the previous month either only or in addition to other types of gambling activity. Sportsbetting was revealed as the second most popular area of remote gambling after the National Lottery at 2.6 %, which was increase over 2.4 % for 2006 and 2007. Poker was fourth at 1.8 %, which was a miniscule rise over the previous twelve months, behind National Lottery scratch cards followed by other lotteries at 1.6 %. Once again, the Gambling Commission stated that those participating in remote gambling were more likely to be male between the ages of 18 to 44 while online gambling through a computer, laptop or handheld device remained the most popular at 8.2 %. This was followed by remote gambling via a mobile phone at 2.8 % while 2.1 % of those that had gambled remotely stated that they had done so using interactive/digital television. source - www.Yogonet.com / iGaming Business


Within the space of a few days, a spate of liberalisation has hit FR, DK, CH, IT

Monday, May 25, 2009

Gambling: within the space of a few days, a spate of liberalisation has hit not just France, but also Denmark, Switzerland and again Italy - does a recent ruling from the European Court of Justice clear the way for Germany? leading global information service (GamblingCompliance.com) headlined within the space of just a few days: • Denmark To Dismantle Gambling Monopoly ( 22nd of April 2009) • Switzerland Prepares Online Casino Reforms ( 24th of April 2009) • Earthquake Brings Avalanche Of Reforms in Italy ( 24th of April 2009) Although it has attracted comparatively little attention, the so-called Hartlauer-Decision of the European Court of Justice (case C-169/07 of 10th March 2009, Hartlauer Handelsgesellschaft MBH vs. Vienna State government) could have far-reaching consequences for the German gambling market. In this decision, the European Court of Justice, in the same composition as in the eagerly expected Liga Portugisa-Decision, opposed Advocate General Yves Bot. The European Court of Justice reprimanded Austria, with reference to its so-called Placanica-Decision, because of an infringement against Community law and, in particular, because of an unjustified restriction of the Single European Market in the dental sector. But what has this decision about dental practices in Austria to do with Germany''''s justification of the gambling monopoly? At first sight: just as little as the Californian returnee Klinsmann will have to do with FC Bayern in the future. A second and closer look reveals a predetermined breaking point in Community law regarding the justification chain of the Inter-State Treaty on Gambling. In detail: The present Austrian legislation requires prior official approval from the competent authorities before the setting up of autonomous ambulatory dental services where medical practitioners are active as employees. This approval is only granted if there is a corresponding requirement. On the other hand, group practices can be established at any time by independent practitioners without an approval or an economic requirements test. Surgeries and group practices not only have similar equipment and numbers of doctors at their disposal, but also usually offer the same medical services so that patients generally cannot differentiate between them. The European Court of Justice now had to answer the question as to whether such a licence requirement in combination with a requirements test complies with Community law, i.e. the freedom of establishment. The court determined that this rule represents a restriction and generally requires justification. Subsequently, the court carries out an extensive and detailed examination regarding the suitability of the regulation to attain a high standard of health care and to avoid substantial threat to the financial balance of the social security system. It finally reaches the conclusion that it is not suitable. The main emphasis lies with the examination of the Consistency Requirement, developed in the Gambelli judgment1. According to this, the legal regulation has to allow the achievement of the aim in a consistent and systematic way. From the point of view of the European Court of Justice, the Austrian Regulation is not consistently designed, since there is no approval regulation for the equipment, furnishing or services of similar group practices. The Court also held that the member state had not put forward any justification for this unequal treatment. What is the impact of this verdict, within community law, on the possible justification of a gambling monopoly? Firstly, it shows that the European Court of Justice continues to strictly scrutinise the suitability of legislation, even in areas of competence that are basically the responsibility of the member state itself, leaving no wide-ranging scope for regulation for the member state. With that, the European Court of Justice continues its increasingly strict examination of the legal justification. Beyond that, the court reaffirms that the burden of explanation and investigation of the justification still remains with the member states, meaning that a gambling monopoly in a member state can only be justified if the level of protection is based on facts proved by a conclusive study. It is decisive that there is no consistent restriction of fundamental rights, where comparable categories are treated differently. That is why there must be a lack of consistency, when, as in Germany, fairly harmless gambling offers such as Lotto are forbidden while considerably more dangerous forms of gambling such as, for instance, slot machines and online horse betting, may be organised. Conclusion If one wanted to make a prediction, it would be: It is to be expected that these effects will become noticeable no later than in the pending preliminary ruling led by the Hambach & Hambach Law Firm, C-46/08, Carmen Media Group. In this case, the question of the consistency of the German gambling monopoly will be the centre of attention2. If there is no political relenting shown by the legislative body, then the monopoly will probably not stand up to the strict examination of the consistency requirement by the European Court of Justice to be expected after the Hartlauer ruling. To get back to the initial metaphor: the monopoly in Germany would end up just like Jürgen Klinsmann: served its time.


Ukraine's parliament temporarily bans operation of gambling business

Monday, May 25, 2009

Ukraine''''s parliament temporarily bans operation of gambling business, participating in gaming The Ukrainian parliament has adopted law on a ban on the operation of gambling businesses and participating in gaming. The law on the ban on the operation of a gambling business in Ukraine, initiated by Regions Party MP Hryhoriy Smitiukh and BYT MP Valeriy Pysarenko, was supported by 340 out of the 442 MPs registered for voting in the session hall. The law comes into effect from the moment it is published and is in effect until a special law foreseeing the right to run gambling business in specially created zones is approved. The issue of licenses for the organization of gambling in Ukraine will stop when the law comes into effect. According to the law, licenses issued to economic entities before the law came into effect are cancelled. The law foresees a fine of 8,000 minimum wages with confiscation of gambling equipment for violations of the law. Revenues from gambling games would be sent to the budget. According to the document, lotteries, billiards, bowling and other games that does not foresee prizes are not considered gambling. The law instructs the Ukrainian cabinet to draw up within three months a special law on the gambling business in Ukraine and special territories where gambling activities would be permitted.


State lawmakers OK new deal on gambling

Monday, May 25, 2009

TALLAHASSEE -- After resisting gambling expansion for decades, Florida lawmakers approved a bill Friday that offers a new gambling deal to the Seminole Tribe, a lower tax rate for parimutuels and a revival of the Hialeah Park race track. The Senate voted, 31-9, for the bill (SB 788) In the more anti-gambling House, the vote was 82-35. The bill would allow the historic Hialeah track to operate quarter horse racing -- though half the races could be run by thoroughbreds -- and after two years of live racing, the track can offer the most lucrative games of all: slot machines. ''''This is our home-grown stimulus package,'''' said Rep. Joe Gibbons, a former Hallandale city councilman whose district is home to two parimutuels, a horse track and a dog track. ``We need this good piece of legislation.'''' Economic realities carried the measure through the conservative House where nearly every attempt at expanding gambling in Florida has gone to die in recent years. And it was political persistance by the Miami-Dade delegation that helped move Senate leaders to overcome years of opposition to reviving Hialeah, which opened in 1925 and closed its doors in 2001 when it lost coveted racing dates. ''''I got a text message at 5:20 a.m. that the bill was in trouble,'''' said Sen. Rudy Garcia, a Hialeah Republican, referring to a Wednesday morning message from Sen. Alex Diaz de la Portilla of Miami. Garcia drove back to Tallahassee and the two joined with other delegation members to preserve the Hialeah provision in the gambling bill. In the end, the provision remained -- with a warning from Sen. Jim King, a Jacksonville Republican who has long resisted Hialeah''s attempts to win new games. He complained that he ''''still has scars'''' from involvement with Hialeah''s legislative disputes in the past. `HAT GOES OFF'' ''''My hat goes off to the Miami-Dade delegation . . . but that doesn''t make it right,'''' King said. ``You have an entity here that has paid no money whatsoever and now they''re not only going to be whole but better than whole.'''' Under the bill, which Gov. Charlie Crist is expected to approve, the governor would have until Aug. 31 to re-negotiate a gambling compact with the Seminole Tribe that follows the legislative guidelines. The Legislature would have to ratify the agreement. The previous compact was invalidated last year by the Florida Supreme Court, which ruled Crist had overstepped his authority when he negotiated the deal. If the agreement is approved, the tribe would pay at least $150 million a year -- $2.2 billion over 15 years -- to the state for the exclusive right to operate slot machines outside of Miami-Dade and Broward counties and to run blackjack, baccarat and chemin de fer at its casinos near Hollywood and Tampa. The tribe would share 3 percent of revenue with local governments to offset the impact of casinos and must find a way to impose a state sales tax on goods sold to non-tribal members. EXPANDED HOURS The legislation also offers parimutuel horse and dog track and jai alai frontons across Florida expanded hours at their card rooms, and betting limits will be lifted on all poker games. Card room hours will be extended from 12 to 18 hours Monday through Friday and 24 hours on Saturday and Sunday. The tax rate on slot machines in Miami-Dade and Broward will drop from 50 percent to 35 percent -- though casino operators will guarantee that tax revenue to the state will not fall below the estimated $117 million collected in 2008-09. RE-OPENED FACILITIES? Closed jai alai facilities, such as those in Mangonia Park, Daytona Beach and Palm Beach, could re-open to operate greyhound racing, followed by card games and intertrack wagering. Crist thanked lawmakers for their vigilance in finding common ground. ''''It was difficult but you did it well,'''' he said. The Seminole Tribe, which has been seeking state approval for Las Vegas-style slot machines for years, said in a statement that the legislation ``has been 19 years in the making and we commend the Florida Legislature for taking this critical step.'''' The tribe did not say whether it will accept the deal but said it will review the bill. Mary Ellen Klas can be reached at meklas@Miami Herald.com


Regulating Online Poker Top Technology Issue in White House Citizens' Briefing Book

Monday, May 25, 2009

ashington, DC (May 12, 2009) –The Poker Players Alliance (PPA), the leading poker grassroots advocacy group with more than one million members nationwide, today praised the release of the White House Citizen''s Briefing Book, a compilation of voter-led policy proposals that includes as one of its top items the licensing and regulation of online poker. "Poker players around the country are speaking with one voice to protect the game they love, and the White House is hearing that message,” said PPA Executive Director John Pappas. "The popularity of online poker continues to grow, and the fact that poker is the top technology issue – and the 11th issue overall – proves that this is not a niche issue, but a national public policy that this Congress and this president should advance this year.” As part of President Obama''s transition, the White House asked citizens to submit a policy proposal that would be voted on through their website, www.change.gov. Those with the strongest support were included in a "briefing book” to the president, and the number one technology item was "Boost America''s Economy with Legal Online Poker,” which received 46,890 points. In addition to garnering the attention of the White House, House Financial Services Chairman Barney Frank (D-MA) introduced legislation last week, H.R 2267, to establish U.S. licensing and regulation of Internet poker, providing for greater protections to keep children and problem gamblers off these sites while allowing for strong consumer protections for adult consumers who enjoy this great American pastime. "We hope the Administration hears and acts upon the clear message sent via the Citizen''s Briefing Book – keep online poker legal through thoughtful regulation. The poker community stands ready to work with President Obama and Congress to make sure the will of the people is acted upon,” Pappas continued. The submission, which was crafted by online poker player Aaron Huertas of Washington, D.C., reads as follows: Boost America''s Economy with Legal Online Poker, 46890 points Let online poker players in the United States play legally and without fear of prosecution. Reform the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act to exempt poker, a game of skill, from the law. Boost the economy by letting American companies and American players make money and pay taxes instead of sending online poker businesses offshore. Protect online poker players by regulating the industry to ensure that no one is ever cheated. To review the full Citizen''s Briefing Book, please visit www.pokerplayersalliance.org. Source: Poker Players Alliance


American gaming industry split on online gaming bill

Friday, May 08, 2009

America''''s gambling industry is split on issue of legalising online gambling, with the American Gambling Association (AGA) saying it had no view on Barney Frank''''s online gambling bill "due to the divergent views of its members.” The Internet Gambling Regulation Consumer Protection & Enforcement Act, published today, proposes legalising onling gambling in the US, reversing the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) passed in 2006, which outlawed online gambling in America (more). In a statement issued today, the AGA said it was "neutral on the issue of online gambling... due to the divergent views of its members." The statement continued that the AGA “will continue its policy of putting any legislative proposal through three tests”. The tests are that the legislation must not create competitive advantages between casinos, state lotteries and pari-mutuel operations; that no form of gaming that currently is legal should be made illegal; and that the legislation must deal with fundamental states’ rights “in an appropriate manner.” Simon Holliday, director of gambling consultancy H2, said: “Some of the big hitters aren’t there. Frank is well connected, but the AGA needs to be on side as a group, as well as the state lotteries, who could be key players and will want to get a piece of this if it’s legalised. “This bill has got a long way to go and the odds are still against it. We get very excited about the bill over here in Europe but if you talk to many Americans they are more sceptical.” Holliday described Frank’s pledge to introduce separate legislation to delay implementation of the UIGEA as a “curve ball” that had positively impacted H2’s forecasts for Full Tilt and PokerStars, which continued to take US bets after the UIGEA and that H2 had anticipated to suffer when the UIGEA was implemented fully on 1 December. www.egrmagazine.com


A fair deal for British gambling operators

Friday, May 08, 2009

Creating a more level playing field to compete with overseas rivals Overseas based gambling operators who advertise in the UK may face new requirements, Sports Minister Gerry Sutcliffe announced today. In response to rapid technological advances in online gambling, as well as the changing international regulatory landscape, the Government is to explore ways to make the system fairer to ensure a more level playing field between British businesses and their overseas counterparts. The Department for Culture, Media and Sport, working with the Gambling Commission, will look at a number of issues, including securing fair contributions from overseas licensed operators towards the costs of regulation, the treatment of problem gambling and the Horserace Betting Levy. The Department will also look at the existing controls that apply to operators licensed overseas to ensure the rigorous consumer protections introduced by the Gambling Act continue to be upheld. Minister for Sport Gerry Sutcliffe said: "Technology has evolved at an incredible pace and online gambling has changed significantly since the Gambling Act was passed. Now is the right time to take stock of developments in Europe and elsewhere to make sure our regulatory system is as fair and robust as possible for all operators able to advertise their services in the UK. "It is early days so I do not want to pre-empt the outcome of this work - but getting a fairer deal for UK operators and ensuring continued consumer protection are my top priorities." The Department will consult a range of experts, including the remote gambling industry, and will report findings to Parliament before the end of 2009. http://nds.coi.gov.uk


US online gambling bill: details revealed

Friday, May 08, 2009

Legislation aimed at legalising online gaming in the US was published today. The Internet Gambling Regulation Consumer Protection & Enforcement Act regulation, published by Barney Frank, chairman of the US Financial Services Committee, seeks to overturn the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) passed in 2006, which outlawed online gambling in America. The bill proposes issuing licenses to operators who are ‘‘in good financial and legal standing and of good character, honesty and integrity” and “whose prior activities, reputation, habits and associations do not pose a threat to the public interest or to the effective regulation and control of of the licensed activities.” Operators will have to demonstrate that they have sufficient expertise in online gambling and sufficient financing to take bets, and that they have the systems and technology in place to combat money laundering and fraud, enforce relevant federal, state and Indian tribal laws including tax collection on bets, and to protect children and problem gamblers. The proposed licenses would last for five years. Anyone would be able to apply for a license provided they meet the conditions above and that they provide their financial statements, and the criminal and credit histories of directors. The document proposes that the exact procedures for running background checks will be decided by the Secretary of the Treasury later. The Secretary will be charged with approving and monitoring licensees, and may call on the Attorney General to compel compliance. The bill would provide Treasury the authority to terminate the licenses of operators who fail to comply with the bill’s provisions, as well as to imprison them for up to five years. Frank said he intends to move the bill before the House''''s August break. Frank also announced today that he is introducing separate legislation to delay the implementation of regulations in the UIGEA, which are due to go into effect on 1 December, until Congress has had a chance to decide national policy. The UIGEA was passed in late 2006 and requires US financial institutions to block payments from US citizens to internet gambling companies. It came into effect on 19 January this year, but banks and other financial institutions have until 1 December to comply. Frank''''s delaying legislation would push the compliance date back to 1 December 2010. Frank''''s legislation is likely to be opposed by many Republicans, who dominated the House of Representatives when the UIGEA was passed in 2006 under Bush. However Democrats are currently in control in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, although Obama has not yet indicated how he will handle the issue. While companies like Sportingbet and 888 withdrew from America after the UIGEA was passed, many still face possible US criminal prosecution for their activities there before 2006. PartyGaming recently settled with US authorities for $105m, clearing the way for an M&A push (more). Shares in PartyGaming and 888 rose today on hopes that Frank will succeed. 888 shares rose 7% to 104.75p; PartyGaming shares rose 6% to 276p. www.egrmagazine.com


Switzerland to offer online gambling licenses

Friday, May 08, 2009

Switzerland, the Government has announced plans to liberalize its online gambling market by offering operators a limited number of licenses while keeping a ban on wagers placed through telephone and interactive television. The proposals are the idea of the Justice Ministry in response to the increasing number of illegal online money games but any changes would be subject to the approval of the Swiss Parliament. The plan would also tighten measures against other forms of illegal gambling, which could see the Swiss run afoul of the European Commission for seeming to give preferential treatment to locally licensed providers over those based in other Member States. According to an article from news portal SwissInfo.ch, new forms of gambling in Switzerland could see the Government generate tax revenues of up to us$ 22 million a year. The Swiss decision comes hard on the heels of Denmark’s announcement last week that it would be presenting proposals that would, if passed, end the 60-year gaming monopoly of the State-owned Danske Spil organization. Yogonet.com


Online gambling bill coming: Frank

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

U.S. Rep. Barney Frank, chairman of the House of Representatives Financial Services Committee, said on Tuesday he would introduce a bill next week to overturn a three-year-old U.S. ban on Internet gambling. The legislation, likely to be opposed by anti-gambling Republicans, would overturn a law imposed during the Bush administration that has hurt U.S. trade ties with the European Union. Frank said the bill was being drafted this week. "We'll be introducing it next week and I plan to move on it," said Frank, a Democrat, speaking at the Reuters Global Financial Regulation Summit in Washington. The bill had been expected earlier, but Frank said his committee has been busy with other measures addressing the credit crisis and proposals to reform financial regulation. The European Commission, the EU's executive, said late last month in a draft report that a U.S. Justice Department crackdown on European online gambling companies violated U.S. commitments under the World Trade Organization. But the commission, which oversees trade policy for the 27-nation EU bloc, said it would seek a negotiated solution with the United States rather than file a WTO complaint. EU online gambling firms lost billions of euros in value after the U.S. Congress in 2006 made it illegal for banks and credit card companies to make payments to online gambling sites. Republicans controlled the White House and Congress when the law was approved. Now, Democrats are in control in both branches of the government, but it is unclear how the Obama administration will handle the issue. While EU companies like PartyGaming and 888.com subsequently withdrew from the United States, they still face possible U.S. criminal prosecution for their activities in the U.S. market prior to 2006.


EU Operators Intensify Fight for French Market Share

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

As competition intensifies ahead of the liberalisation of the French gaming market next year, private European operators have been providing a much needed boost to the dwindling advertising revenues of French media groups in recent months. France’s Budget Minister, Eric Woerth, has warned however that any advertising of online gaming sites remains illegal until the new legislation is implemented as expected in early 2010. Unibet has been one of the most proactive companies, announcing a partnership with French radio station Radio Monte Carlo earlier this week to sponsor a new programme called ''''''''Les Paris RMC'''''''' beginning this weekend. The estimated €1 million contract will run during 2009 with an option to extend into 2010. Unibet has also invested a further €1 million into the development of a reality TV programme on sports and poker, broadcast by French television network NT1, as well as a partnership with free daily newspaper Metro. Meanwhile BetClic, owned by France''''''''s Mangas Gaming, is currently negotiating an alliance with Europe 1, one of the leading radio broadcasters in France. The company has already began its first advertising campaigns on the radio. Both companies have also targeted the burgeoning football sponsorship arena, with Unibet due to announce a sponsorship deal with leading French football team Paris Saint-Germain, while BetClic is rumoured to have three clubs in its sights, Olympique de Marseille, Olympic Lyonnais and AS Saint-Étienne. Additionally, bwin signed a joint venture agreement last year with French media group Editions Philippe Amaury, publisher of French daily newspapers L’Équipe and Le Parisien, and one of France''''''''s largest organisers of sporting events through its subsidiary Amaury Sport Organisation. Amaury and bwin intend to develop the French online gaming market under the new legislation. In an interview with France’s Le Figaro, Isabelle Parize, Managing Director of Mangas Gaming, said that the company was aware of Mr. Woerth’s objections to the marketing activities currently underway. “We have been waiting for months now,” said Ms. Parize. “The bill was presented to the Council of Ministers in March and we are effectively in a pre-liberalisation phase. We cannot sit waiting with our arms crossed while FDJ is accelerating its marketing activities, launching new games and entering into new partnerships. “We simply demand equal treatment with the monopoly holders PMU and FDJ who have signed agreements with RTL, the leading French radio station, 20 Minutes, the largest free French daily, Canal+, and France 2. We are not doing anything illegal from a European legislative perspective.” Both Unibet and the European Gaming & Betting Association (EGBA) also maintain that advertising in France by European operators is not illegal. According to Article 48 of the French draft legislation on online gambling however, any promotion of gaming sites by non-authorised companies is illegal and could result in a fine of up to €30,000. As the law currently stands, only state-owned monopoly La Française de Jeux is allowed to promote online sports betting in France. Last week French radio station RTL launched the first radio broadcast dedicated to sports betting called ''''''''On Joue Le Match'''''''', sponsored by FDJ as part of an 18-month strategic partnership. FDJ also recently launched a new TV show on channel France2 named Côte & Match after its sports betting product, which is intended to help FDJ acquire a larger share of the sports betting market ahead of its liberalisation. source :www.gamingintelligence.com


Deregulation of Danish gambling market

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

"The Danish gaming legislation can be characterized as a difficult balancing act between consideration for tradition and the desire to nevertheless permit a gaming market”, The future of gaming in Denmark.
 Under heavy pressure of the European Commission the Danish Government revealed plans to implement a regulated and liberalization of the gaming market. Opening up the betting market for non-Danish gambling companies is planned by the Government in 2009.


Danish government to break up state gaming monopoly

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Gambling is expected to enter a new era shortly as deregulation opens up gambling market to international companies. A 60-year gaming monopoly operated by state-owned Danske Spil is set to be terminated when the government announces its plans for deregulation on this week. A current European Commission lawsuit alleging the monopoly violates free market regulations was a major factor in pressuring the government into the move. Deregulation would mean that foreign gaming companies could begin advertising in Denmark and their gambling contests would be legally available for purchase. According to Jyllands-Posten newspaper''''s information, only the Lotto and scratch-off ticket games will continue to be under the sole jurisdiction of Danske Spil. But entry into the Danish gaming market would not be free, as companies would have to pay a licensing fee to the state to be allowed access. The government will include the fee - along with measures to prevent gambling addiction - into its proposal, which would still ensure that a tidy sum goes into the state''''s coffers. Last year nearly USD 1.9 billion was spent on gaming nationwide, with state profits ofUSD 486 million. Around USD 278 million of that went toward charitable and youth organizations. Danske Spil indicated it welcomed the move because the amount it has to pay back to the state - currently 30 percent of its intake - will be considerably reduced as a result of the deregulation. "It will be nice to get some clarity on the issue after so many years of uncertainty,” said H.C. Madsen, Danske Spil''''s managing director. "We''''ll also be able to offer casino gambling and poker now, which we couldn''''t do before.” Danish gaming laws began being challenged in the European Courts a couple of years ago, when online companies such as Ladbrokes were hindered in their attempts to gain access to the market. www.isa-guide.de


The European Commission reports Portugal for discriminating foreign lotteries

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The European Commission (EC) has reported Portugal before the Community Justice, because it considers that fiscal regulations of the country discriminate foreign lotteries, whose prizes are taxed compared to the exemption of national lotteries. Portuguese legislation exempts the tax of winnings of the draws organized by Santa Casa da Misericordia of Lisbon - Euromillones and Liga de Millones -, an entity that develops social activities, explained the community government in a press release. However, prizes from bets and competitions organized by foreign entities must pay taxes. EC considers that Portugal is discriminating foreign lotteries, banned in the community laws, so it had reported the situation before the EU Court. After the first warning in Brussels last September, Portugal decided to extend the exemptions to the lotteries that are part of the network of "Euromillones Europeos” (Spain, Belgium, France, Ireland, Luxemburg, Portugal, UK and Switzerland). However, the prizes of the rest of the UE countries do pay taxes, so finally EC has decided to bring the case to the court. www.isa-guide.de


EU lawmakers back state controls for betting

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

By Nikki Tait in Brussels and Joshua Chaffin in Strasbourg Betting companies, anxious to see more liberalisation of the online gaming sector across the EU, suffered a significant setback on Tuesday when European lawmakers overwhelmingly backed a report which emphasises national controls. Although the vote does not have binding implications, it sends an unwelcome political message for private sector gaming companies, keen to expand their online activities. They had been hoping that EU internal market freedoms, which generally support the sale of goods and services across the 27-country bloc, would help loosen the grip of state-owned gaming monopolies in many European countries. The parliamentary report into the “integrity of online gaming” purported to deal with social issues thrown up by internet-based gambling. It called for measures to tackle problems of fraud and money-laundering, for example, as well as consumer detriments such as gaming addiction, under-age gambling, aggressive advertising and so on. It even suggested a study into the possibility of introducing a maximum amount which any individual can use for gambling activities per month, or obliging gambling operators to make use of prepaid cards for online gambling to be sold in shops. But, critically for private gaming companies, the report also stressed the extent to which gambling should not be treated as a “normal” economic activity, because of its social implications – meaning that a “pure internal market” approach would be inappropriate. Accordingly, it said, EU member states should have the right to regulate and control their own gambling markets. The report was heavily backed by MEPs in a vote on Tuesday, with 544 in favour and 36 against, with 66 abstentions. A much more restrained minority report was rejected. European Lotteries, the state lotteries association, welcomed the parliamentary vote. “The European Parliament is well aware that gambling is a sensitive area and that lifting well-founded restrictions would create issues with record to consumer protections and public order,” said Winfried Wortmann, president. By contrast, the European Gaming and Betting Association, which represents companies like Bwin, PartyGaming and Unibet, was forced to take comfort from the fact that the minority report did attract some cross-party support, and that there are unlikely to be legislative implications from the vote, at least in the short-term. “Today’s vote shows that we cannot expect an EU harmonised legislation to be adopted in the near-future. This clearly means that it is the rules of the [European] Treaty and the case law of the [European] Court of Justice that continue to apply,” said Sigrid Lingé,” EGBA’s secretary-general. Meanwhile, Arlene McCarthy, a Labour MEP, said the report – which calls on member states to seek a political solution to the problems – was needed to help prevent corruption in sports. “Match fixing is as old as sporting matches, but new technology opens up new risks for fraud alongside the positive opportunities it presents,” Ms McCarthy said. Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2009


US Internet gambling laws breach WTO rules – EU

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

A US crackdown on European online gambling breaches World Trade Organization rules and would justify action at the WTO, the European Commission said this week. The European Union executive, which oversees trade policy for the 27-nation bloc, said its draft report found that such US laws hampered trade and thus were inconsistent with WTO rules but stressed it would seek a negotiated solution. "It is for the US to decide how best to regulate Internet gambling in its market, but this must be done in a way that fully respects WTO obligations," EU Trade Commissioner Catherine Ashton said in a statement. "I am hopeful that we can find a swift, negotiated solution to this issue," she said. In 2006, the US Congress passed legislation making it illegal for banks and credit card companies to make payments to online gambling sites. The move hit European Internet gambling companies hard, slashing billions of euros off their market value. While companies such as PartyGaming and 888.com subsequently withdrew from the United States, they face possible criminal prosecution for action prior to 2006. The Commission''s report is based on its investigation that followed a complaint by the Remote Gambling Association. source - www.isa-guide.de


Social Factors Key in Understanding Gambling Behaviour

Monday, March 23, 2009

The UK Gambling Commission has this week released a report looking at the ways in which social factors affect the way people gamble. Using data from the 2007 British Gambling Prevalence Survey, the study investigates three key areas of a person’s social position: personal income, household occupational category, and deprivation level of area of residence. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the study found that those living in the most deprived areas appeared to gamble more often than those in less deprived areas. It also suggests that people whose parents were regular gamblers or whose close relatives had gambling problems were more often those resident in more deprived areas. Personal income was also significantly associated with gambling prevalence, with people in higher income brackets having a more positive attitude towards gambling, whereas people in lower income brackets were far more likely to participate in gambling on a more regular basis. The survey also took into consideration occupational factors, with the results suggesting that people in managerial and professional occupations were least engaged in gambling, and at a lower risk of developing gambling problems compared with those in either lower supervisory and technical roles or semi-routine and routine jobs. This secondary analysis was carried out on behalf of the Gambling Commission by Professor Jim Orford of the University of Birmingham and Professor Mark Griffiths of Nottingham Trent University, together with NatCen. Although exploratory in nature and open to interpretation, the study suggests that instead of an individuals propensity to gamble and the amount of money spent on gambling - both common measures when studying gambling addiction - future studies could focus on gambling spend as a percentage of personal income, amongst other factors. Previous academic and professional studies into gambling have largely viewed the activity as a matter of individual behaviour, while gambling problems have been seen as medical and psychological in kind. These latest findings pave the way for future studies to examine gambling and problem gambling as psychosocial phenomena, influenced by familial and community factors. Source – www.gamingintelligience.com


New CEO of LGA appointed

Monday, March 16, 2009

Dear Members, According to a Press Release in the Malta Independent on Sunday the new CEO of the LGA has been appointed and he has been named as Mr Reuben Portanier ab ICT and Management Consultant. The MRGC Board will try to set up a meeting with the new CEO at the earliest possible time. http://www.independent.com.mt/news.asp?newsitemid=84740


Gambling services in the EU: European Parliament confirms once again importance of .......

Friday, March 13, 2009

Gambling services in the EU: European Parliament confirms once again importance of subsidiarity and country of destination principle Brussels/Strasbourg - The European Casino Association (ECA) welcomes the European Parliament''s adoption of the Resolution on the integrity of online gambling by the vast majority of the Members of the European Parliament (544 in favour, 36 against and 66 abstentions). The Resolution stresses the special nature of gambling services due to the social and public order aspects linked to them and takes a clear stance against the application of Internal Market principles to this highly sensitive sector. Ron Goudsmit, Chairman of the European Casino Association, said: "The European Parliament has always placed social and public order concerns over purely economic interests. The Resolution acknowledges that Member States are best placed to ensure consumer protection and fraud prevention through the regulation and control of their individual gambling markets, and their right to do so has been repeatedly confirmed by the European Courts.” With reference to the subsidiarity principle, the European Parliament stresses that Member States have the right to regulate and control their gambling markets in accordance with their traditions and cultures. Furthermore, it underlines that online gambling operators must comply with the gambling legislation of the Member State in which they provide their services and the consumer resides. Noting that self regulation only is an insufficient tool in the gambling sector, the European Parliament emphasizes that a code of conduct can complement legislation but not replace it. The Resolution calls in particular on the Commission to carry out research into the risks of online gambling, take appropriate measures to combat illegal online gambling services and aggressive gambling advertising, and to come forward with proposals for an EU approach to regulating online gambling. Mr. Goudsmit continued: "With today''s vote, we have witnessed yet another clear manifestation of the political will supporting the fundamental principles of subsidiarity and the country of destination.” With today''s parliamentary decision, the Resolution prevailed over an alternative last-minute Resolution proposed by a minority group of pro-liberal European Casino Association The propositions contained therein are in fundamental contradiction to the line the European Parliament has traditionally taken on gambling, namely the exclusion of the sector from the application of Internal Market principles. Furthermore, in considering gambling to be an economic service like any other, the alternative Resolution ignores established jurisprudence of the European Court of Justice. Source – www.isa-guide.de/articles/24849.html


MEPs Adopt Biased Resolution on Online Gambling

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Members of the European Parliament met Monday in Strasbourg to debate a report on the integrity of online gambling, presented by Danish Socialist MEP Christel Schaldemose, which argued that online sports betting should be regulated at a national rather than European level. The report which has already been adopted by the Internal Market Committee by a majority of 32 to 10 suggests that online gambling contributes to an increase in match-fixing opportunities and poses significant dangers to underage and problem gamblers. In response to yesterday’s debate, the Remote Gambling Association, which represents the world’s largest licensed and publicly listed online gaming companies, denounced the Parliament’s adoption of the report which dramatically overplays the risks associated with online gambling. In a statement late Monday, the RGA said the concerns expressed in the European Parliament Resolution were unfounded, adding that it was disappointed by the Parliament’s decision to ignore the findings of an independent report which it itself commissioned through Europe Economics. “From the beginning, the industry welcomed the initiative by the European Parliament to examine the integrity of the online gaming industry,” said Clive Hawkswood, Chief Executive of the RGA. “We have a good story to tell if people are willing to hear it, but unfortunately many people have deeply ingrained anti-gambling prejudices and, of course, there are powerful vested interests that are opposed to the opening up of markets in the EU. “The serious claims in this Resolution are highly detrimental to European-licensed operators, which already comply with stringent legislation and high standards of consumer protection and social responsibility. Moreover, it blindly ignores the findings of the Parliament’s own study, prepared by Europe Economics which demonstrates the lack of evidence to support many of these arguments.” The RGA said that the experience of Member States that regulate private sector remote gambling clearly disproves the negative remarks contained in the resolution, lending its support instead to an alternative resolution that was tabled by a minority opposition within the Parliament which calls for cooperation on online gambling standards, and for the European Commission to bring to a rapid conclusion the infringement proceedings that are outstanding against 10 Member States. “We supported the main points of the alternative motion for the very reason that it did what the Opinion itself failed to do – it attempted to set the stage for an EU discussion on standards for both private and state gambling operators,” added Hawkswood. “The adopted resolution is more about the funding of sports and effectively protecting existing national gambling markets rather than the integrity of online gambling, which was meant to be its real purpose.” source - www.gamingintelligence.com


Tax rates, events property rights and EU recognition among key issues as France outlines..

Friday, March 06, 2009

Tax rates, events property rights and EU recognition among key issues as France outlines egaming regulation France’s budget minister Eric Woerth set out the country’s framework for regulation of online sports betting and gaming by 1 January 2010 in a press conference yesterday. Highlights of the presentation were the tax rates the French state would set for French-licensed operators offering online fixed odds sports bets, pari mutuel bets on horse racing and online poker. Online slots, casino table games and spread betting will not be allowed. The French authorities will tax the stakes placed by punters at 7.5% on sports and horse racing bets plus a 1% tax that will be redistributed to the National Centre for Sports Development. The proposed tax rate for online poker is 2%. However, Woerth said that the tax rates had to be equal regardless of whether the activity was taking place online or offline. Therefore, the tax rate applied on the land-based betting activity of French monopolies Francaise des Jeux for its sports betting offering and Pari Mutuel Urbain for horse racing will be the same 7.5% plus 1% as that offered to online operators. Woerth said: “You can not have a different fiscal regime for a game played online and one that is played in a physical space. What this means is that if we have a tax rate that is much lower (for online operators) than that applied to FDJ or PMU, it has to be applied to the whole of offline gaming.” Licensing conditions had to be attractive enough for operators to want to obtain a licence, French officials said. But Nicolas Beraud, chief executive of Betclick, one of the leading operators in France, said the proposed rates were deceptive as the maximum customer pay out ratios allowed would be between 80% and 85% of gross gaming revenues. “This means that operators are left with 15% in gross gaming revenues but are then taxed 8.5% on that figure, more than half their margins. As a comparison, the tax on stakes in other EU states such as the UK is 1.5%, 0.5% in Malta and 3.5% in Italy. So France’s tax rate would be more than double that of Italy. As a result, we will make our decision on whether to acquire a licence only when we know the definite working conditions offered to us by the French government,” Beraud said. France said it would also grant property rights on sporting events such as the Roland Garros French Tennis Open or its football competitions. However, Annabelle Richard of the Paris law firm IMA, said the measure was unique and raised questions as to its implementation. She added: “A few issues have been insufficiently detailed by the Minister. Among the most important ones, M. Woerth has confirmed that France will not recognise licences delivered by other Member States. One may question, however, French authorities’ ability to prevent gambling on websites that have been declared legal in other member states but considered as illegal in France.” The European Gaming and Betting Association questioned whether “the proposed model will be economically viable given the announced level of taxation, the limited payout ratio to players, and the creation of new rights to the benefit of organizers of sports events”. EGBA added: “The prohibition of fixed odds for horse race betting constitutes in our opinion is an unjustified restriction which would be challengeable in court. The conditions mentioned today by Eric Woerth also raise the question of the attractiveness of the French offer on a competitive European or even international market. Finally, it will be up to the European Commission, on the basis of the Directive 98/34/EC, to determine whether the French Bill is in line with the rules of the EC Treaty.” Woerth said the draft regulation would be presented to France’s State Council and Council of Ministers by the end of March and still had to go through the National Assembly. The body that will be charged with regulating online betting and gaming would be set up before the Summer break up and licences would be issued by September in order to be operational by 1 January 2010. Beraud said Betclick and other industry stakeholders would do their utmost to have the proposals revised between now and then. source -www.egrmagazine.com


FATF Statement released on 25 February 2009

Friday, March 06, 2009

1 Financial Action Task Force  Groupe d’action financière FATF Statement 25 February 2009 IRAN The FATF welcomes Iran’s initial engagement with the international community on money laundering. However, the FATF remains concerned by Iran’s failure to meaningfully address the ongoing and substantial deficiencies in its anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) regime. The FATF remains particularly concerned about Iran’s failure to address the risk of terrorist financing and the serious threat this poses to the integrity of the international financial system. The FATF urges Iran to immediately and meaningfully address its AML/CFT deficiencies, in particular by criminalising terrorist financing and effectively implementing suspicious transaction reporting (STR) requirements. The FATF reaffirms its call on members and urges all jurisdictions to advise their financial institutions to give special attention to business relationships and transactions with Iran, including Iranian companies and financial institutions. In addition to enhanced scrutiny, the FATF further calls on its members and urges all jurisdictions to apply effective counter-measures to protect their financial sectors from money laundering and financing of terrorism (ML/FT) risks emanating from Iran. Jurisdictions should also protect against correspondent relationships being used to bypass or evade counter-measures and risk mitigation practices, and take into account ML/FT risks when considering requests by Iranian financial institutions to open branches and subsidiaries in their jurisdiction. The FATF remains prepared to engage directly in assisting Iran to address its AML/CFT deficiencies, including through the FATF Secretariat. UZBEKISTAN The FATF welcomes the process undertaken by Uzbekistan to adopt comprehensive AML/CFT measures within a specific timeframe. Nevertheless, given that concrete measures to address the identified deficiencies have not yet been implemented, the FATF reiterates its statement of 16 October 2008, calling on its members and urging all jurisdictions to strengthen preventive measures to protect their financial sectors from the ML/FT risk emanating from Uzbekistan. 2 TURKMENISTAN Despite a prolonged dialogue with the FATF and other international institutions, Turkmenistan has not yet made progress in adopting AML legislation. Financial institutions should remain aware that the lack of an AML/CFT regime in Turkmenistan constitutes an ML/FT vulnerability in the international financial system and should take appropriate measures to address this risk. Turkmenistan is urged to adopt without further delay a comprehensive AML/CFT regime that meets international AML/CFT standards. Turkmenistan is encouraged to continue to work closely with the Eurasian Group and the International Monetary Fund to achieve this. PAKISTAN The FATF reaffirms its public statement of 28 February 2008 regarding the ML/FT risks posed by Pakistan. The FATF welcomes the process underway in Pakistan to improve its AML/CFT regime. The FATF encourages Pakistan to continue to fully co-operate with the World Bank and the Asia Pacific Group on Money Laundering (APG) on its mutual evaluation process SÃO TOMÉ AND PRÍNCIPE The FATF welcomes São Tomé and Príncipe’s recent steps toward addressing identified AML deficiencies, in particular, through the adoption of an AML law in November 2008. The FATF urges São Tomé and Príncipe to address the remaining AML/CFT deficiencies, particularly relating to terrorist financing. 3 Notes: 1. For further information, journalists are invited to contact Helen Fisher, OECD Media Relations, (Tel: +33 1 45 24 80 97 or helen.fisher@oecd.org) or the FATF Secretariat, 2, rue André-Pascal, 75775 Paris Cedex 16 (tel: +33 1 45 24 90 90, fax: +33 1 44 30 61 37, email: contact@fatf-gafi.org). 2. The FATF is an inter-governmental body whose purpose is the development and promotion of policies, both at national and international levels, to combat money laundering and terrorist financing. The FATF Secretariat is housed at the OECD. 3. The thirty-four members of the FATF are: Argentina; Australia; Austria; Belgium; Brazil; Canada; China; Denmark; the European Commission; Finland; France; Germany; Greece; the Gulf Co-operation Council; Hong Kong, China; Iceland; Ireland; Italy; Japan; Luxembourg; Mexico; the Kingdom of the Netherlands; New Zealand; Norway; Portugal; the Russian Federation; Singapore; South Africa; Spain; Sweden; Switzerland; Turkey; the United Kingdom; and the United States. 4. India and the Republic of Korea are observer countries. The Asia Pacific Group on Money Laundering (APG)1, the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF)2, the Grupo de Acción Financiera de Sudamérica (GAFISUD)3, the Middle East and North Africa Financial Action Task Force (MENAFATF)4 and the Council of Europe Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism (MONEYVAL)5 are Associate Members. 5. The global network that is committed to combating money laundering and terrorist financing also includes three other regional bodies: the Eastern and South African Anti Money Laundering Group (ESAAMLG)6, the Eurasian Group on Combating Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism (EAG)7 and the Groupe Inter-gouvernemental d’Action Contre le Blanchiment en Afrique (GIABA)8. The Offshore Group of Banking Supervisors (OGBS)9 is a part of this network as well. 1 www.apgml.org 2 www.cfatf.org 3 www.gafisud.org 4 www.menafatf.org 5 www.coe.int/moneyval 6 www.esaamlg.org 7 www.eurasiangroup.org 8 www.giaba.org 9 www.ogbs.net


igamingprofilermalta article regarding the Maltese jurisdiction

Thursday, March 05, 2009

One Hand at the Helm There are currently significant issues surrounding the igaming industry, not just in Malta, but globally. With the European Commission debating whether and how to regulate remote gaming within the whole of the EU and a certain member the United States government (See: Barney Frank) rebelling against the UIGEA, it is hardly an opportune time for uncertainty. According to the report for the fiscal year ending December 31st, 2007 from the Lotteries and Gaming Authority (LGA) the revenue generated from gaming was just under €35 million. Considering that this is an increase of €2.8 million from 2006, the prospect of a significant increase in last year’s numbers, which typically are finalised sometime in June the following year, wouldn’t be unreasonable. As one of the pioneers of legislating remote gaming operations, Malta has been on the cutting edge of the industry for many years now. With its solid foundation as a reputable, safe locale for legitimate operators interested in customer safety and responsible gaming, the island has been a welcoming destination and, in turn, welcomed some of the biggest and best in gaming. However, it all might be hanging by a thread. Since the resignation of the LGA’s previous CEO from the post in October, Michael Gonzi has been presiding as temporary CEO until a permanent replacement is selected. To his credit, people within the industry have lauded him as an adept leader with the ability to get things done. He has issued licenses and numerous letters of intent to applicants keeping the business of remote gaming here moving. However, this can’t be an enviable position for him to be in. The interview phase, which was broadly advertised in the local media, was set to commence during the week of the International Casino Exhibition in London on the 27th of January and as of yet hasn’t been resolved. Enquiries made to the LGA regarding the status of interviews, candidates, etc. were requited with a modicum of information from the communications department stating “We have absolutely no idea on which stage is the selection process.” Nor was an answer to the question of “Who would know the answers to such questions?” available. Such communicative methodology toes a very dangerous line with regard to what gaming operators have been saying in unison – a need for legislative clarity and clear communication is necessary for the machine to run smoothly. With so much at stake, i.e. tax revenue, jobs and foreign investment, this doesn’t seem like an overly demanding request. With the global recession, there is zero margin for error when it comes to producing and managing a country’s wealth, especially when most experts suggest that the end is not yet in sight. It’s an extraordinarily difficult task for any country, as is clear by reading any medium of international press, but more so for a small state greatly reliant on finance, ICT and emerging markets revenue. Adding further concern in the jurisdiction is the current fervor over gambling “arcades” and the subsequent judicial protest that has been lodged by owners of the Casino Di Venezia, Dragonara, Oracle and the Portomaso Casinos against the Minister of Finance and LGA Chairman. The casinos claim that these arcades are unregulated, pay no tax and have no enforceable age limitations. Although schedule five of the Lotteries and Other Games Act is in direct reference to Video Lottery Terminals (VLT) and their regulation, the issue is cloudy, at best. Tonio Fenech was quoted in the Times on February 1st that “If their places fall foul of the regulations…we will close them” and “we will issue regulations” regarding gaming arcades; what, then, does schedule five exactly address? Have regulations been in place and not been enforced? Are there different types of machines in use? The mounting confusion and diffidence of key members in public office has to be quite alarming to not only those surveying the landscape of the jurisdiction, but even those who have already vested themselves in this market. Time is of the essence to implement a rational, well thought-out solution to the key issues of an evolving worldwide marketplace. A deliberate effort is necessary to restore and enhance the international community’s view of the Maltese jurisdiction before it slips beyond our grasp entirely. Innovative measures and forward thinking have been the lynchpins to the emergence of Malta as a leader in the industry, and will also be paramount in its resurgence. The first step, clearly, is to select permanent leadership to be at the helm of the LGA. Politics and personal feelings should be nil in this decision and LGA, although a public regulatory body, should be conducted in the manner of a private enterprise: efficiently. While government oversight is critical, it is no secret that bureaucracy expands to meet the needs of the expanding bureaucracy. Simply put, the Authority needs to exist free of hindrances from governmental red tape, while maintaining its integrity. The selection of a strong willed, high character CEO, who is unafraid to voice opinion and put business first, will expand the current scope of the business of remote gaming locally while streamlining its processes. Also, the need for technological investment is crucial to not just gaming, but myriad sectors as well. This infrastructure is especially necessary for igaming with 50% of international bandwidth being allocated for it, and has been a negative checkmark for Malta when compared to competing jurisdictions. Amid such economic uncertainty, the time to invest in such ventures by the government would show remarkable foresight and perhaps lay the foundation for many years to come. It will be a classic example of identifying your weaknesses and making them your strengths. The addition of a more user-friendly, informative website by the LGA is also a small, but cost-effective means of satisfying your customer base and attracting new business. Lastly, create a series of recurring open forums for gaming operators and vested parties to discuss the best way to further the industry. Good salespeople know that success comes from active listening and addressing the issues your clients have. In a competitive market such as this it is impossible to thrive by ignoring your clients and, to be clear, there is serious competition. The Ministry of Finance and LGA need to hear precisely what the concerns of its clients are in order to shore up any perceived or actual shortcomings that their customers have identified. This will, at least, restore good faith and public confidence that the government recognises a key industry and is taking the necessary steps to ensure it benefits the people of the country. The question is, is anybody listening? By Thomas Flash - editor@igamingprofilermalta.com


Deloitte Business Confidence Survey

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Dear members, The Remote Gaming Council have been asked by Deloitte to circulate the below survey to our members. Please fill in and return to Deloitte directly.. thanks and regards Management Board MRGC -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Malta Financial Advisory Services Business Confidence Survey Feeling the pulse Business Confidence Survey The Global Financial Crisis has now been negatively dominating the international news headlines for several months. Malta is not immune to what is happening in the broader international context and references to local businesses being adversely hit are becoming increasingly frequent in recent weeks. Although it would appear that most proponents agree that Malta will be impacted by the Global Financial Crisis there appear to be divergent views as to the extent of the impact, the most vulnerable sectors, and what should be done to mitigate the potential downsides. In order to provide an insight into this debate, Deloitte Malta has taken the initiative to undertake an independent Business Confidence Survey which will seek to determine the extent of the impact of the Global Financial Crisis on Maltese Businesses and to understand what the local business community feels should be done to counteract the challenges being faced. In order to ensure that the objectives of the survey will be achieved, it would be greatly appreciated if you would take a few minutes to respond to the survey questionnaire by accessing the following internet link: http://www.dexsurvey.deloitte.com?XID=18888 We will provide all respondents with an electronic copy of our survey findings which we also intend to discuss at a forum which would allow a more focused and informed debate on the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. We would ask you to complete the survey by not later than Friday 20 March 2009. Should you have any queries please do not hesitate to contact Caroline Cassar Reynaud on ccassarreynaud@deloitte.com.mt or myself on raloisio@deloitte.com.mt Yours sincerely Raphael Aloisio Financial Advisory Services Deloitte, Malta Note about the survey: All responses will remain completely confidential. All data will be reported in the aggregate, and no answers or comments will be attributed to any particular respondent. Home | Security | Legal | Privacy Deloitte Place Mriehel Bypass Mriehel BKR 3000 © 2009 Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Deloitte refers to one or more of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, a Swiss Verein, and its network of member firms, each of which is a legally separate and independent entity. Please see www.deloitte.com/about for a detailed description of the legal structure of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu and its member firms. Deloitte RSS feeds Unsubscribe *Disclaimer:* The information contained in this message and in any attachment is confidential and may be legally privileged. It is intended for the recipient or recipients to whom it is addressed. If you are not an intended recipient and receive this message in error please delete it and any attachment and all copies of it and of any such attachment from your system immediately, destroy any paper copies and notify the sender. If you are not an intended recipient, you are not authorised to use, distribute, print or copy any part of this message or of any attachment, whether directly or indirectly. This message has been scanned for computer viruses, however we do not accept any liability whatsoever in respect of any potential damage caused by any virus which is not detected


US Judge Rules Poker is a Skill Game

Monday, March 02, 2009

South Carolina poker players may not be sure when to fold ’em even after a judge ruled Thursday that Texas Hold ’em is a game of skill. What Mount Pleasant Municipal Judge Larry Duffy didn’t decide is whether that matters under an 1802 South Carolina law that, read literally, makes any game with cards or dice illegal. State Attorney General Henry McMaster says his office has adopted a looser interpretation. It considers games reliant more on chance than skill — including Texas Hold ’em — to be gambling and therefore illegal. Dozens of other states have similar laws. Though Duffy said evidence was “overwhelming” that poker was a game of skill, he said he did not have enough guidance from higher courts or state lawmakers to know if that analysis makes a difference under South Carolina law. McMaster’s office called Thursday’s ruling insignificant. But if it is appealed, the South Carolina Supreme Court may eventually have to decide if Texas Hold ’em is legal in the state. Locally, the ruling could keep police from arresting people involved in friendly house games. The case stemmed from a 2006 raid on a poker game that organisers said was played casually among friends but prosecutors characterised as a for-profit gambling operation. An estimated 55 million Americans play some form of poker, and the Washington, D.C.-based Poker Players Alliance has been closely watching the case. Duffy’s ruling doesn’t help five of the 20 people arrested in the raid. In a separate part of the ruling, he found them guilty of operating a gambling house — something their attorney says also isn’t clearly defined under state law. “If an essential element of the criminal charge is not defined, and the court doesn’t even know what it is, how can my clients expect to know whether or not they are in violation of the law?” said Greenville attorney Jeff Phillips, who plans to appeal to a circuit court. Town prosecutor Ira Grossman said while the skill versus chance finding “has no relevance as it pertains to the law,” he was happy with the rest of Duffy’s ruling. “This circumstance wasn’t a small poker game amongst good friends as it has been ridiculously mischaracterised by the defense,” Grossman said. “It was a for-profit gambling operation.” Phillips has said there was no profit for the organiser except some money used to pay for pizza and beer for the players. source : www.iGamingProfilerMalta.com


EC Requests Italian Compliance Under Threat of ECJ Referr...

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The European Commission has formally requested the Italian Government to comply with the European Court of Justice''s 2007 judgement concerning Italy''s awarding of horseracing betting concessions without inviting any competing bids. The September 13th judgement, Case C-260/04, ruled that by renewing 329 concessions for horse race betting operations without inviting competing bids, the Italian Republic had failed to fulfil its obligations under the EC Treat Articles 43 (right of establishment) and 49 (free movement of services). The judgement highlighted that the renewals breached the principles of non-discrimination, proportionality and transparency and the obligation to ensure a sufficient degree of advertising. Stanleybet International, one of Europe''s leading cross-border sports betting operators and the substantive party behind the Gambelli case, welcomed the decision by the European Commission which it said "demonstrates the Commission''s commitment not to allow the measures proposed by Italy to circumvent EU law and to force Italy to build a truly competitive market". Although the Italian government has announced that it will issue up to 3,000 new licences, Stanleybet believes that the proposed measures still contain discriminatory conditions and have a low minimum financial commitment. Stanleybet said it does not expect a majority of the 3,000 licences to be awarded, and has called the tender ''farcical'', claiming that it is solely a way to re-award the 329 licences at minimum cost. John Whittaker, Managing Director of Stanleybet International, said: "We applaud the resolve of the European Commission in continuing to ensure that the rules of the EU Treaty, as consistently interpreted by the European Court of Justice, are fully and correctly applied by the Member States. "The Commission''s decision demonstrates its determination to remove once and for all the illegality in the Italian concession system. We welcome this. "The Italian authorities have no choice but to open up their gambling market to competition. However, they keep on dragging their feet. Substantial problems remain and the Commission has confirmed that this is simply not acceptable. Mr. Whittaker added that the company intends to appeal against the ''farcical tender'', which it believes has been created to protect the incumbents and to by-pass the ruling of the ECJ and the European Commission''s obligation to uphold the Treaty. The next stage in the procedure is an ECJ Court case that could result in the ECJ imposing a daily fine. The ECJ ruling came after infringement procedures which the European Commission launched after investigating a complaint lodged by Stanleybet International in 1999. Following a Letter of formal Notice on April 3rd 2008, the Commission sent a Reasoned Opinion to Italy stating that the measures so far enacted by Italy were not sufficient to comply with the ECJ ruling. Source www.gamingintelligence.com


Greek State Council says OPAP should be taken to ECJ

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Greek Council of State has recommended that the state-licensed betting monopoly OPAP be referred to the European Court of Justice and that the Greek state’s refusal to allow EU-licensed sports betting operators to establish in the country is non-compliant with EU law. The reporting judges also made it clear that OPAP’s monopoly, a private entity since 2000 and physically established and offering its gambling services in another EU member state, could not be attributed to a genuine interest to reduce gambling opportunities and to protect the public. Welcoming the decision, John Whittaker, the managing director of Stanleybet International, said: “The opinion issued today clearly shows that the Greek Authorities have discriminated against our company by acting in clear violation of the EU Treaty. What further evidence does the Commission need to bring Greece before the European Court of Justice?” Stanleybet recently launched its Fair Play For Sports Betting campaign, aimed at providing a co-ordinated drive among EU-based sports betting operators towards fair, open and equal access to all European markets. source: www.egrmagazine.com


New plan to fund British gambling charities

Monday, February 09, 2009

UK Sports Minister Gerry Sutcliffe has unveiled plans to introduce a tax on the gambling industry to pay for the treatment of problem gamblers. It would require bookmakers and other gaming companies to pay more than USD 7.4 million a year in order to fund education programmes, help lines and research into problem gambling. According to a report in The Independent newspaper this week, the voluntary donation scheme that has been in place since 2002 has consistently fallen short forcing major operators to step in at the last minute to meet minimum funding targets. The Department of Media, Culture and Sport (DCMS), which is responsible for regulating the gambling industry, said that existing voluntary arrangements with gambling operators have failed to raise an acceptable amount of money and in some cases, particularly amongst the smaller operators, contributions have not been forthcoming. The newspaper reported that smaller outlets have consistently refused to contribute over the past two years to the current system citing difficult financial conditions, which has led to a shortfall for 2008/09 of almost USD 1.8 million. "This move will secure the future of problem gambling treatment and will ensure that all operators pay their way,” The Independent quoted a government source. "Discussions continuing on the voluntary route have so far fallen short of the mark and now is the time to get this sorted one way or another.” It also reported that 80 % of current donations to the Responsibility In Gambling Trust (RIGT) come from just 30 major donors while small, on-course bookmakers would be exempt from the planned compulsory donation system. "We have put the protection of vulnerable people at the heart of the Gambling Act and that remains our priority,” said the Sports Minister Gerry Sutcliffe. "We must ensure that organizations working to prevent and treat problem gambling are given the financial security they need to carry out the important work they do. Gambling operators have a responsibility to help fund this and it is very disappointing that the industry has so far failed to agree improved voluntary arrangements to do this.” A statutory levy will come into force during the next financial year, unless the industry can give satisfactory funding guarantees in the meantime. A consultation was launched this week by the DCMS and will run for 12 weeks. The plan is the brainchild of Andrew Burnham, Secretary of State for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, and would see bookmakers with one shop required to donate between USD 268 and USD 447 a year while large national chains would be asked for a six-figure sum. Gambling operators now have twelve weeks to save themselves from the statutory system by agreeing a voluntary deal while a consultation process takes place. ''The prospect of a voluntary agreement is still on the cards if the industry can give satisfactory guarantees,” said the government source. Under the proposal set out by the government, land-based operators would pay a flat fee based on the number of premises they run and the type and volume of gambling they offer. Remote operators would pay a flat fee within bands based on the Gambling Commission''s license structure. The Responsibility in Gambling Trust (RIGT), which currently administers the voluntary arrangement, had proposed a statutory levy based on 0.07% of operators Gross Gaming Yield, however this was rejected by the government due to the lack of reliable figures and the cost of monitoring such a system.


EGBA welcomes French Reasoned Opinion disclosure

Monday, February 09, 2009

The Court of Appeal of Versailles has ordered the French government to disclose the contents of the Reasoned Opinion issued by the European Commission as part of the infringement proceedings initiated against France in June 2007. The Court of Appeal’s decision comes as part of the criminal proceedings initiated by the French government against Unibet chief executive Petter Nylander in October 2007 and against Didier Dewyn, former chief executive of Mr Bookmaker, which was acquired by Unibet in 2005, and other European online gaming executives. The Reasoned Opinion lists all the violations of EU law that the European Commission holds against French gambling legislation, in particular with regard to the Française des Jeux and Pari Mutuel Urbain monopolies on online sports and horse betting. The European Gaming and Betting Association welcomed the Court of Appeal’s decision, saying the Court’s wish to hear Gilles Briatta, Secretary General for European Affairs at the European Commission, showed the French legislature itself had doubts about the compatibility of French gaming legislation with European Law. Sigrid Ligné, secretary general of EGBA, said: “These decisions raise once more the fundamental question of the legal base of these criminal proceedings. The infringements the European Commission listed in its Reasoned Opinion against the French Law shall also allow it to evaluate the compliance of the forthcoming draft bill with European law.” Doubts about France’s legal compliance with European law have been voiced by the European Commission, the French Court of Cassation in July 2007, by the State Council in May 9 2008 and by the French Government itself in the context of the announced reform of the gambling law. France has still not submitted its draft legislation for the regulation of online gaming and betting to the European Commission, which was due in December 2008. EGBA said the European Commission may refer the matter to the European Court of Justice if the draft bill was not formally notified to the European Commission services in the shortest timeframe possible.


Ist Remote Problem Gambling and Social Responsibility Workshops

Monday, February 09, 2009

Dear Members, As advised in our AGM held in December 2008, the Malta Remote Gaming Council (MRGC), in association with GamCare, are offering all members the opportunity to attend the first Remote Problem Gambling and Social Responsibility Training Workshop. GamCare is the only UK charity with a national Help Line, Netline and counseling service that provides support, advice and information to anyone affected by problem gambling. GamCare Trade Services (‘GTS’) is a branch of GamCare that gives service to the gaming industry providing training , auditing and your GamCare Company certification within the area of socially responsible gaming. GTS’s main focus is to provide the gaming industry with the necessary tools to ensure player protection. These socially responsibility workshops assist those who work in the Gaming Industry to raise awareness of problem gambling and provide much needed support for problem gamblers. Attendees will also gain a good knowledge and understanding of social responsibility regulatory requirements. For attendance in the first workshops preference will be given to MRGC members with fully paid up memberships in 2008 and 2009. (Should you wish to communicate with non-members about this new initiative please feel free to forward this email and document. Non-members can register online at www.mrgc.org.mt.) The 1st Responsible Gaming Workshops will take place on the following dates 26th Feb 2009 12th March 2009 26th March 2009 2nd April 2009 23rd April 2009 Each Workshop will start at 10am (and) finishing approximately (latest) 4pm. Coffee breaks and a light lunch will also be served. The workshops will take place at the New Regus Business Centre, conveniently located in Swatar - Birkirkara There will be a maximum of 10 persons allowed per session; where by a minimum of 5 persons per group will be required in order for the workshop to take place. We will be operating on a first come first served basis with members for the past two years taking precedence over new members. Additional workshops may be added if the demand requires it. Each Attendee will receive a Gamcare Delegate Pack and also a certificate of attendance on completion of the workshop. The Malta Remote Gaming Council highly recommends every organization to attend such workshops and obtaining this type of certification which will assist in meeting Maltese Gaming regulatory requirements and social responsibility obligations. Price: Maximum of Euro 290 per person (with 5 attendees) Minimum Euro 150 per person (10 attendees) Closing Date for the 1st Workshop will be 20th Feb 2009. Please confirm your booking by sending your name (surname), company details together with the no. of people who will be attending to the below address or to info@mrgc.org.mt Payment should be effected by cheque payable to the MRGC and directed to the following address Malta Remote Gaming Council Regus Swatar Malta 2nd Floor, Tower Business Centre Tower Street, Swatar BKR 3013 Malta Thanks and regards Management Board MRGC


Online betting regulation in Spain could be postponed another year

Monday, February 09, 2009

Despite the political will declared by the government in order to elaborate a bill to bring a legal answer to the tax benefits, the protection of players and the free provision of services in Spain by EU companies, the online gaming regulation remains at a standstill. The Spanish Association of Internet Bettors (Aedapi) estimates that the benefits for the companies that operate in this sector exceeded the 200 million euros. It means a tax loss that could be around the 20 million euros if it is considered that the tax type for the national lottery is 10%. In December 2007, the Congress of Representatives approved the Law of Measures to Boost the Information Society. This norm would establish the commitment of the government to present a bill to regulate online gambling and betting. A year later, there have been very few improvements on the matter. In June 2008, there was a meeting of the Gambling Sectoral Commission, comprised by members of the Minister of the Interior, the Secretary of the State of the Information Society, the Tax Agency, the National Entity of Lotteries and Betting (Onlae) and autonomous communities. Aedapi speaker considers that the bill will not conclude until next year. Meanwhile, online gaming is still submitted to a legal void. Benefits of online gaming are not taxed and that is one of the aims of the new legislation. "A regulation must be performed, so, instead of paying in the UK, Austria or Malta, taxes are paid in Spain. Aedapi members are claiming to pay those taxes here”, indicates the speaker of the association. Nowadays, companies located abroad pay taxes in their countries of origin. In the case of British firms, the activity has a 15% tax, on top of paying the tax to societies, too. In Madrid, online gaming benefits have a 10% tax.


Dutch government cracking down on Internet gambling

Monday, February 09, 2009

Ernst Hirsch Ballin, the Dutch Justice Minister, is reportedly following through with plans to take legal action against Internet gambling sites that illegally target Dutch consumers and have so far refused to shut down their operations. The Remote Gambling Association and European Union have had little luck applying pressure to the Dutch Government over its Internet gambling stance. A justice ministry spokesman declined to tell news agency ANP how many sites are being targeted, but confirmed that both Dutch-based and foreign companies are involved. Under Dutch law, firms must have a permit to offer online gambling. All gambling in the Netherlands is in the hands of the state. Hirsch Ballin is also planning to warn banks that they are breaking the law if they have illegal gambling sites as customers, ANP says. "We are talking about the bigger banks operating in the Netherlands,” the spokesman told ANP.


Statutory levy on the cards as UK goverment

Monday, February 09, 2009

The prospect of a statutory levy moved closer yesterday as UK culture secretary Andy Burnham was said to have “finally lost patience” with the gambling industry after the emergence of a £1.2m shortfall in donations for 2008-2009 to the Research in Gambling Trust (RIGT). Leading trade bodies the Remote Gambling Association (RGA) and the Association of British Bookmakers (ABB) admitted the industry faced an “uphill struggle” to convince the government it could meet its RIGT funding targets through the existing voluntary system. The industry now has a 12-week consultation period to prevent the imposition of a statutory levy. The chief executive of the ABB, Russ Phillips, argued that the shortfall had resulted because the £5m funding target set for 2008-9 failed to take account of currently challenging economic conditions. “The sums involved are significant, particularly against the background of the credit crunch and its effect on bookmakers’ businesses, which already face the additional costs of Turf TV, Gambling Commission fees and regulation,” said Phillips. Phillips added that his members felt aggrieved that none of the revenues from the other betting-specific taxes they pay are channelled into the prevention of problem gambling. “You look at the resource the NHS commits to (getting people to stop) smoking. There’s almost no NHS provision at all in this area,” he pointed out. The Department of Media, Culture and Sport insisted that the prospect of a voluntary agreement was still on the cards if the industry could provide satisfactory guarantees, but the industry will have to do more than simply bridging the current funding gap. “We haven’t given up hope of getting close enough to the £5m to back this off, but they also want a three-year commitment,” explained Phillips. The chief executive of the RGA, Clive Hawkswood, said giving such commitments in the current economic climate simply wasn’t feasible. “It’s a voluntary system when every other charity in the country is making cutbacks because donations are falling. So we will have to see what commitments we can raise, and if companies say they undertake to pay X amount over the next three years, the Gambling Commission is just going to have to trust them,” he said. Hawkswood said there were maybe other reasons why the last-minute cavalry charge from the big operators which bridged the RIGT funding gap of the last two years had yet to materialise. Eighty percent of RIGT’s funding has historically come from just 30 companies. “With the saber rattling coming out of government and the Gambling Commission, many companies now see the statutory levy as inevitable, and the biggest contributors are perhaps thinking they wouldn’t pay much more under a statutory system, under which every other operator would then have to pay,” he said. Phillips disagreed with the idea: “There is an equity issue for them, but they still recognise it is in their interest to keep this a voluntary system, if nothing else, it allows them to demonstrate their commitment to social responsibility.” However, both were unanimous that urgent action was needed to save the voluntary contribution system for the sake of the gambling industry. Both trade associations have written to all their members regarding bridging the funding gap. Hawkswood added that statutory levies “only tend go up”, and a statutory system would see the industry effectively cede control to the Gambling Commission over how its contributions were distributed and used. Securing funding commitments was the first step in securing the future of the voluntary levy, according to Phillips. The industry would also have to provide assurances regarding the effectiveness of its fundraising mechanisms, perhaps by employing professional fundraisers, or spreading the net to include businesses which benefit from gambling which haven’t yet contributed to the RIGT, such as banks.


Statutory levy set for April 2009 if funding arrangements can not be agreed

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

The Gambling Commission has informed the UK’s Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to be ready to implement a statutory levy on the gambling industry from April 2009 should they be unable to come to an agreement with operators regarding the best way to fund research, education and treatment of problem gambling. The Commission submitted its report on the current voluntary funding arrangements between the gambling industry, the Responsibility in Gambling Trust (RIGT) and the DCMS this week. It said its strongly preferred option was for a tripartite structure involving the Gambling Commission, DCMS and industry stakeholders working together to put in place voluntary arrangements for fundraising for the next three years. However, the Commission said it had not been able to secure agreement on its proposals or to obtain satisfactory funding commitments from the industry. New arrangements needed to be in place by April 2009 to avoid further uncertainty and delay. As a result, the Commission has recommended to Minister Gerry Sutcliffe that he commences preparations for a statutory levy from April 2009, that he endorses the voluntary funding arrangements the Commission has recommended, that they should remain on the table for industry and RIGT to take up; and that the Commission commences setting up a strategy board immediately in collaboration with the DCMS and the industry. The Commission found that the current system did not provide sufficient funds for RIGT or service providers and both the Commission and DCMS did not receive sufficient guarantees that robust funding commitments were in place to fund RIGT’s business plan for the next three years. “If these commitments are not forthcoming, the only other option would be a statutory levy,” it said. Andrew Lyman, spokesperson for the Association of British Bookmakers (ABB) said in response: “The ABB and the high street industry are disappointed that the Commission is so keen to recommend a statutory levy when the industry has met its funding targets for education, research and treatment year on year. “The recommended voluntary structure is bureaucratic and will waste funds in administration costs. There are also conflict (of interest) issues with recipients of funding having a disproportionate influence on the strategy board. The key issue will be the level of funding that is demanded from the industry and how the strategy board is made properly accountable for its actions, for example a proper arbitration scheme over the level of funding. “The industry feels that the Commission has not handled this consultation well, preferring to bully the industry rather than reach a compromise acceptable to all.” In response to the Commission’s report, John Greenway, chairman of RIGT, said: “We continue to believe that the threat of a statutory levy hampers our ability as a charity to raise funds. Nevertheless, we will continue to work with the industry to seek the commitments the Commission requires to enable a voluntary arrangement to continue. In this context, we welcome the Commission’s clear intent that voluntary donations paid now will be taken into account in any future levy scenario.”


Two thirds of EGBA consumer protection practices match or exceed EU monopolies'

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

These are the percentages obtained by the European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) in their benchmark study regarding responsible gambling practices - 67% of the responsible gaming standards operated by EGBA members matched or exceeded those applied by 10 of Europe’s largest gambling monopolies. The results showed that 43% of the standards applied by private operators matched those of the monopolies and exceeded them at a rate of 24%. Just 4% of private operators’ practices were deemed lower than those of the monopolies, remaining standards could not be benchmarked because of insufficient information 21% of the time and 4% of the criteria were not applicable. The objective of the study was for EGBA to compare its current standards with those of the leading European gambling monopolies, which EGBA says are perceived as providing better consumer protection than the private operators, and where necessary, draw conclusions on current best practices and outstanding challenges and priorities. With two thirds of private operators’ practices offering similar or better consumer protection than those of the monopolies, EGBA called for fair and non-discriminatory market access for all EU operators offering the relevant player protection guarantees, greater transparency in relation to the controls currently offered by European monopolies: 21% of EGBA consumer-facing practices were expected to be publicly available and accessible but could not be benchmarked due to insufficient information from the state companies; and a reform of online gambling regulations across Europe. Mr Sigrid Ligné, secretary general of EGBA, staates that there are valuable lessons to be learnt but both the monopolies and the private sector. but, it also clearly dismisses the argument that private sector companies are failing to provide consumers with similar levels of protection and responsible gaming practices. The standards and player protection body eCOGRA carried out the survey, which took place between July and September. The study findings were split into five categories; and showed where EGBA members matched or exceeded the practices of the monopolies, could improve their practices, the information from the monopolies was insufficient and could not be assessed accurately or the practice was not applicable to the study. Ligné added: “The evidence shows that it is the private sector that is leading the field in this important area and results are a testament to the major commitment and strong leadership of EGBA operators towards developing a comprehensive and consistent package of responsible gaming practices.”


EU Member States may look to harmonise egaming regulation

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

EU Member States may be changing their views on online gaming and look to find a common approach to regulating the sector and in the process end years of deadlock when it comes to finding a harmonised EU-wide policy for the sector, according to Reuters. A copy of the EU document obtained by the news agency stated: "While the legal frameworks differ, there are significant similarities in the member states'''' objectives as regards gambling and betting." European ministers will discuss the document on December 1, with some changes anticipated from states strongly opposed to any kind of opening of their gaming sector. The issues that will be debated will include cooperation between national regulatory bodies to combat money laundering and fraud and corruption, a cap on pay-outs to players and an end to “double-taxation by taxing gaming where it takes place”. France, currently holding the EU presidency, said there were “already grounds for seeking a common approach” back in July and French budget minister Eric Woerth recently said “Europe” may have to look at finding a regulatory solution for allowing the industry to work across borders and countries. Others in the online gaming industry have interpreted this as a delaying tactic by the French, who are due to submit their draft regulation for the controlled opening of their online betting sector next month. But Sigrid Ligné, secretary general of the European Gaming and Betting Association, told Reuters: “In the end it''''s going to be back to the Commission to decide if it can take any further steps or if there is any need to do something new or different in the issue." A dozen EU states are said to be supportive of the common approach to regulating in Europe although Britain and Malta were critical, Reuters said.


Malta Remote Gaming Council Breakfast Meeting - 20th November 2008

Monday, November 17, 2008

Dear Member,
The Management Board of the Malta Remote Gaming Council kindly invites you to a breakfast meeting about the Remote Gaming Industry to be organised on the 20th November, 2008 at the San Gorg Corinthia in St. Julians. Registration will begin at 8.30am and the meeting will start at 09.00am. The meeting will be open to MRGC members and the general public.

The objective of the meeting is to inform the Council members and the interested public about the state of the global remote gaming industry and also to provide an update about the local situation in light of recent changes that have taken place.

The Guest Speaker at the meeting will be Mr Warwick Bartlett CEO and founder of Global Betting and Gaming Consultants who are responsible for the production of the Global Gambling Report, a highly respected and quoted publication. Mr Bartlett had been a consultant to the Government of Malta for 2 years and was instrumental in the establishment of Malta as a leading remote gaming jurisdiction.

The Management Board has also extended invitations to speak at the meeting to relevant Ministers and the L otteries and Gaming Authority. The idea is to get a clearer picture of where the Remote Gaming Industry is today and where its heading. Full details of the speakers will be communicated once the panel has been confirmed.

The Management Board of the Malta Remote Gaming Council has the pleasure to announce that one member from each member company will be able to attend for free. Any additional members (max. of 2 extra people per company) will be able to attend at a price of €40 per individual. Non - members may also attend for a fee of € 50 per person.

Please note that spaces are limited, therefore attendance will be on a first come first served basis, giving preference to members.

Please confirm your booking by sending your Name, Surname, company name and contact details together with the number of people attending to info@mrgc.org.mt . Payment should be effected by cheque payable to the MRGC and directed to the following address :

Malta Remote Gaming Council c/o Primebet International Ltd No. 3/4 Valley Towers, Valley Rd B''''''''kara

We look forward to seeing you there.

Regards.
Management Board MRGC


Levy Planned to Force UK Industry to Fund Problem Gambling Care

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

The UK government plans to implement a levy to force the gambling industry to contribute funds to help problem gamblers unless it can reach agreement on voluntary funding for at least the next three years.

In a letter addressed to Brian Pomeroy, Chairman of the UK Gambling Commission, Sports Minister Gerry Sutcliffe said "there must be a firm and guaranteed commitment to a minimum amount which must be met by the industry for the next three years to allow for medium-term planning".

The Gambling Commission had written to Mr. Sutcliffe recommending that preparations be put in place for the introduction of a statutory levy from April 2009. This followed the Gambling Commission''''''''''''''''s failure to reach agreement with the Responsibility in Gambling Trust (RIGT) and individual industry stakeholders on a satisfactory funding commitment for the next three years.

Based on the RIGT''''''''''''''''s business plan, the Commission proposed that funding levels for each of the next three years be £5.4 million, £6.35 million, and £7.2 million, or at least £5 million per annum during the current uncertain economic climate. The Commission also proposed improved voluntary arrangements, encapsulated in a draft Memorandum of Understanding, which would provide for an Independent Strategy Board together with a new fundraising body.

The Commission recommended that the minister immediately prepare for the introduction of a statutory levy, while asking that he endorse the improved voluntary arrangement proposed by the Commission. The Commission also requested that these arrangements remain on the table should the industry and the RIGT wish to take them up.

In his response Mr. Sutcliffe agreed to use the £5 million per annum figure as a starting point with a commitment to an "upward sum in future years", but said that it was "reasonable to expect the industry to make a commitment to the funding amounts set out in RIGT''''''''''''''''s business plan".

He said that the funding targets would be subject to annual review on a rolling basis by the DCMS, Gambling Commission and a new fundraising body for which the industry would be responsible.

Mr. Sutcliffe confirmed that an Independent Strategy Board would be set up, either under a voluntary or statutory arrangement, so that the Gambling Commission can fulfil its obligations as advisor to the DCMS. The Board would be set up in collaboration between the DCMS and the industry.

Discussions between the Commission and the gambling industry about improved voluntary arrangements have proved difficult in recent times, with the industry finding it impossible to find an equitable way to commit to funds to help problem gamblers. Earlier this year £4.5 million was raised by the industry for the 2008/9 financial year, with most of the donations coming from the leading gambling companies and little from the ''''''''''''''''smaller'''''''''''''''' companies which make up the majority of licensed operators.

Mr. Sutcliffe stated that he hoped the industry would find a solution with an immediate and firm commitment to the proposed improved voluntary arrangements and associated committed funding. He added that they were running out of time if a levy is to be avoided.


Contradictory Verdict on Gaming Irrelevent says German Court

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

The Higher Administrative Court of Germany''s third largest state ,Baden-Württemberg,has ruled that the State Treaty on Gaming cannot be challenged on grounds that it infringes on European law because it considers nothing in the EC Treaty to apply to gambling. The court made public details on the verdict yesterday although the ruling was made on October 16th. The appeal was brought up by an unnamed plaintiff who was banned by the State from organising bets with foreign online providers in 2007 before both the Administrative Court and Higher Administrative Court.The plaintiff launched the appeal following introduction of the State Treaty on gaming, arguing that the Treaty infringed on the freedom to provide services as defined in the EC Treaty.The Higher Administrative Court argued that the purpose of the State Treaty is to protect the public interest, not only in terms of preventing gambling addiction, but also to combat fraud and to discourage players from spending ''''''''''''''''excessive amounts of money''''''''''''''''.


European Parliament Draft Report Critical of Online Gambling

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

The European Parliament''''''''s Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee (IMCO) will meet this week in Brussels to consider a draft report which needs a European Parliament Resolution on ''''''''the integrity of online gambling''''''''. Although the resolution is not solely reliant on the Commission, it will embody the opinion of Parliament and its current wording should give cause for concern to the industry. The IMCO draft report was submitted by Danish MEP Christel Schaldemose and is one of two such EU initiatives. The other being an investigation into gambling policy by the Council''''''''s Working Party on Establishments and Services, at the request of the French Presidency. The IMCO report states that close to 50% of cases currently before the European Court of Justice are gambling related, a situation which it says is dissatisfactory for the Court, Member States, consumers and online gambling providers.It also highlights what it sees as the numerous risks associated with online gambling including the inability to verify players identities, difficulty in supervising players, and the possibility for dishonest online gaming operators to set up sites and then quickly disappear. The current text expects the Parliament to resolve that, "Member States have a legitimate interest in monitoring and regulating their gambling markets in order to protect consumers against addiction, fraud, money-laundering and fixed games as well as to protect the culturally-built funding structures which finance sports activities and other social causes," and "underlines that online gambling operators should comply with the legislation of the Member State in which they provide their services." It also calls on the Commission to "clarify the competences of the Member States and the EU in the field of online gambling; is of the opinion that the Court of Justice should not define the European gambling market." With regard to prevention of consumer detriment it is of the opinion that "online gambling is likely to give rise to risks to consumers and that Member States may therefore legitimately restrict the freedom to provide online gambling services in order to protect consumers."


France Requests EU Gambling Progress Report

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

A newly-established EU Council working group is to present a series of conclusions on gambling before the end of the year, a European Commission official has revealed. The group was established in July at the behest of the French EU Presidency, ahead of a planned seminar later this month on France’s own plans for online gambling reform.


Google Gambles on Ad Revenue

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Google will once again be allowing the UK and EEA based Gaming Companies to target advertising towards consumers in Great Britian after an on going self imposed ban on online gambling advertisments was lifted.

"Google AdWords allows online gambling advertisements to target Great Britain as long as the advertiser is registered with the Gambling Commission and provides a valid operating licence number," said the company.

"Advertisers based outside the UK and within the European Economic Area who wish to target online gambling ads to England, Scotland, or Wales must be licensed to advertise online gambling in their respective country."

Google states that a specific account must be created solely for gambling advertisements, and that advertisers must complete a gambling ad application where operators must provide details and a copy of their gambling licence. All gambling ads will be required to comply with relevant codes of practice such as the Gambling Act 2005, the CAP Code, the Gambling Industry Code for Socially Responsible Advertising and the Gambling Commission Licence Conditions and Codes of Practice.

Advertisers must also prominently display links to GambleAware or GamCare on the first page that is displayed when a consumer clicks on an ad. Google will also require gaming operators to notify it immediately if they become the subject of any ruling by the Gambling Commission, the Advertising Standards Authority, or any other regulatory or industry body.

Furthermore, gaming operators will be responsible for enforcing Google''''s terms and conditions on their affiliates as the operator will be held liable by Google, regardless of who purchased the ad.

The search engine giant has also taken steps to ensure that minors will not be exposed to such content by ensuring that the ads will only appear when the ''''Safe Search'''' filter is switched off.


ECJ Opinion Supports Betting Monopoly in Certain Circumstances

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

According to Advocate General Yves Bot of the European Court of Justice, Portugal''s Santa Casa betting monopoly may comply with EC law if certain conditions are met by them. Since Portuguese legislation gives Santa Casa da Misericórdia de Lisboa, a non-profit-making organisation, the exclusive right to organise and operate lotteries and off-course betting in Portugal. This exclusive right has subsequently been extended as well to ''all electronic communication'' including the internet. The legislation mentions as well penalities in the form of administrative fines on those who organise and advertise such games in breach of that exclusive right. In his Opinion delivered today, Advocate General Yves Bot took the view that the extension of the Portuguese legislation to lotteries and betting by electronic means of communication falls within the directive laying down a procedure for the provision of information in the field of technical standards and regulations. Since the directive requires Member States to notify the Commission of any draft technical regulation, the Advocate General took the view that the Portuguese draft legislation should have been notified to the Commission. The Advocate General suggested that, in the event that the Portuguese Government has not notified the legislation, it will not be applicable as against Bwin and the Liga and the national court must decline to apply it. The national court will have to determine whether the Portuguese draft legislation was notified to the Commission. With regard to the principle of freedom to provide services, the Advocate General said that the aim of EC law is not to open up the market in gambling and games of chance. He argued that a Member State should be required to open up this activity to the market only if it treats games of chance and gambling as true economic activities intended to yield maximum profits. According to the Advocate General’s analysis, the Portuguese legislation constitutes a restriction on the freedom to provide services since it prohibits an online gaming provider established in another Member State from offering lotteries and off-course betting online to Portuguese consumers. He pointed out however that such a restriction conforms with EC law if it fulfils certain conditions: that it is justified by an overriding reason relating to the public interest it is appropriate for ensuring the attainment of the aim which it pursues and it does not exceed what is necessary for attaining it. Furthermore, and in any event, the restriction must not be applied in a discriminatory way. As regards justification for the Portuguese legislation, the Advocate General considered that Portugal could legitimately restrict the freedom to provide lotteries and off-course betting on the internet in order to protect consumers and maintain public order. It will be for the national court to carry out a twofold test to determine whether the Portuguese legislation is appropriate for providing effective protection for consumers and for maintaining public order.It should be noted that the Advocate General''s Opinion is not binding on the Court. The Judges of the Court of Justice are now beginning their deliberations in this case and their judgment will be given at a later date.


CEO of the Lotteries and Gaming Authority resigns

Friday, October 31, 2008

Mr Mario Galea, the CEO of the Lotteries and Gaming Authority has resigned with immediate effect. Mr Michael Gonzi, secretary to the Gaming Board has been appointed the acting CEO until a replacement has been found. The MRGC Management Board is in contact with Mr Gonzi to set a meeting with himself personally and the new boad in view of the current situation and the recent statements made on the LGA website. The Management Board would like to thank Mr Mario Galea for his contribution to the development of the remote gaming industry in Malta and for the initiative in creating the MRGC, and for involving the MRGC in matters affecting the industry. We are confident that the new Board and CEO will continue to work closely with the MRGC for the benefit of the local players and the industry in general. Regards, Management Board, MRGC


Debate between EU & US over the restrictive and discriminatory practices of the US

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The ongoing debate between the European Union and the US over the restrictive and discriminatory practices of the US authorities towards European operators that operated in the US prior to the internet gambling act should reach its conclusion around September. But what is more encouraging is that the EU believes the online gaming industry, via the original complaint brought by the Remote Gambling Association, has a strong case. And even if the US stonewalls the EU’s requests for clarification, it will be stonewalling the EU rather than the industry, a different proposition entirely. This might not prevent the US from doing so anyway, but surely the repercussions would be entirely different.


EU To Scrutinize Hungary’s Online Betting Law Proposals

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Hungary has unveiled proposed reforms to its national gambling laws that will allow EU- and EEA-based online sports betting companies to apply for authorization from the country’s tax authority to advertise and operate in the Hungarian market. However, the European Commission will have to scrutinize whether the strict tax requirements may constitute an effective barrier to market entry.


Global Gambling Operators Confront Recession Realities

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The stocks of gambling operators on both sides of the Atlantic have continued to suffer this week on wider turmoil in global financial markets, leaving the gaming sector to face up to the reality of a global economic recession. For an industry which has previously been labelled ‘recession-proof’, the global gambling industry is displaying signs of being adversely affected by the current downturn. With the tumultuous events on the world’s financial markets in recent weeks likely to tip the downturn towards full-blown recession, questions are now being asked about the gambling sector’s susceptibility to ill economic winds.Despite some recognition that the UK’s economic situation may be impacting the gambling sector in a similar way to the US and Vegas, Britian have not yet voiced their opinion on this situation. .


EU told Portugal to change lottery rules

Friday, October 10, 2008

The European Commission has sent a formal letter to Portugal requesting they cease its practice of taxing some lottery winnings while exempting those from other games. Portugal has been a member of the EU since 1986 and the Commission announced that the nation’s current practice runs contrary to treaty obligations as it restricts the freedom to provide equal services. (please note that the above news alert is the same as the news alert dated 26th september 2008 - Discriminatory taxation of gambling winnings: European Commission brings action against Spain) The full article may be viewed at http://www.isa-guide.de/articles/22958.html?tb=1


Statistical returns for Year 2006

Friday, October 10, 2008

Dear Members, We have been informed by the National Statistics Office (NSO) that they have not received the statistical returns for Year 2006 from a few operators. We urge you to send in the information required so that the statistics for 2006 can be completed. We take this opportunity to remind you that you are legally obliged to furnish the NSO with the requested returns and failure to do so will result in a fine as stipulated by law. Management Board, Malta Remote Gaming Council


Norway Pushes Ahead With Payments Ban Proposal

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

The Norwegian Government has formally submitted its proposed online gambling payments ban for a parliamentary vote. The restrictions recently drew criticism from the European Commission in Brussels who view them as disproportionate, but strongly negative local press coverage demonising online gambling websites has raised the possibility of further ISP blocking measures being introduced in Norway. The proposed amendments to Norwegian gaming legislation were formally submitted to the Norwegian Parliament last Friday. Close observers confirm that the proposals are substantively the same as those first unveiled by the Norwegian Government’s Ministry of Church and Cultural Affairs in November of last year, and would therefore have the practical effect of prohibiting Norwegian financial institutions from processing payments for unlicensed internet gambling services active in the country. You can read the full article on http://www.gamblingcompliance.com/node/19680/search/hl/norway%3B


Norway Submits Online Poker Internet Gambling Ban to Parliament Vote

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

The Norwegian Government has continued to press forward with legislation to ban payments handling online poker and internet gambling transactions, UIGEA-style. The government has formally submitted its proposed ban for a parliamentary vote, reports Gambling Compliance. The proposed ban, which widens the Norwegian definition of the offence of ''mediating'' bets, has already attracted widespread concern, pro and con. The European Commission in Brussels continues to heap criticism on Norway''s proposed ban, while negative local press demonizing online gambling websites is calling for further ISP blocking measures to be introduced in Norway. One of Norway''s senior legal advisors predicts that the proposed US-style UIGEA ban will end up in the courts of the European Court of Justice, should it be approved by parliament


ECJ: Brokering bets not exempt from Value Added Tax pursuant to the 6th Council Direc

Friday, September 26, 2008

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has recently stated that commissions paid to a sports betting agent are not exempt from VAT. The Brussels Court of Appeal (Cour d’appel Bruxelles) had asked the ECJ for clarification as to whether an exemption pursuant to Art. 13 part B letter d no. 3 of the Sixth Council Directive 77/388/EEC should be considered, according to which the supply of certain financial services relating to turnovers resulting from the transfer of bets are exempt from VAT. The ECJ declined this. The Beligian initial proceedings made reference to To bacconists, wh o accept bets on behalf of a bookmaker and then pays out the winn ings to respective betting customers

You can read the full article on http://www.isa-guide.de/articles/22070.html?tb=1


Sweden May open door to foreign Gambling Operators - 05.09.2008

Friday, September 26, 2008

The government commission that examines gambling in Sweden wants to allow foreign gaming companies to operate in the c ountry. Companies would pay for a licens e to arrange betting on sports events . The Head of the Commis sion stated that the commission had as yet not formulated a proposal for internet poker and other on line gaming. Neither has it been stipulated exactly what the gaming licences would cover and how . The gaming commission plans to submit its final proposal to the government in December this year.

The full article may be viewed at http://www.isa-guide.de/articles/22579.html?tb=1


Discriminatory taxation of gambling winnings: European Commission brings action against Sp

Friday, September 26, 2008

The barriers erected by the EU and EEA Member States against the cross-border offering of sports betting and gambling have been under the watchful eye of the European Commission for several years. The Commission judges numerous national provisions to be in breach of Community law and has therefore already initiated infringement proceedings against several Member States. The Commission has now filed suit against Spain with the European Court of Justice for not charging income tax on winnings from lotteries organise by the state body responsible for lotteries and betting and some charities but charges income tax on winnings from other national bodies or foreign bodies. The Commission is basing its case on the decisions in the Lindman case and Safir case which dealt with discriminatory taxation.

You can read the full article on http://www.isa-guide.de/articles/21984_...


Attention - Operators with a Class 1 license for Casino games

Friday, September 26, 2008

A few weeks ago we sent out an email advising you that the new Prevention of Money Laundering and Funding of Terrorism Regulations had been published under LN180 dd 31st July, 2008. The new regulations make Internet based casinos subject persons and therefore, any operator with a Class 1 license for Casino games is required to fully comply with the regulations. One of the requirements (Reg 15.(4) (e)) is to appoint an Internal Reporting Officer (more commonly known in jargo as the Money Laundering Reporting Officer [MLRO]) and to notify the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit (FIAU) and the supervisory authority (LGA) of the details of the appointed reporting officer. Such detials we are presuming would include: name & surname, position within company, address, mobile/telephone number, email address. It is also important to keep the FIAU and supervisory authoirty informed of any changes to the situation. Management Board, MRGC.


Remote Gaming Standards

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Malta Standards Authority have published the Remote Gaming Standards after two years of work. It is hoped that the local standard will be adopted globally. It is the first National standard related to the remote gaming industry. The stanard covers all aspects of the business, responsible gaming, fairness, risk management and information security, You may buy the standard from the MSA offices. Their website is www.msa.org.mt.


New AMOL regulations published

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Prevention of Money Laundering and Funding of Terrorism Regulations 2008 (l.n.180 of 2008) have been published in July 2008. Click here to download the document


Donation to MRGC by Systec Ltd

Monday, June 16, 2008

Mr Wayne Hewitt, Sales Director of Systec Ltd.presented a laptop to the chairperson of MRGC, Daniela Grioli. The laptop will be used by the Management Board''s part time assistant for various administrative duties. The Board would like to thank Systec for their generous donation. Also present in the photo is Mr Ian Curtis, member of the Management Board. Photo


Salary Survey

Sunday, June 01, 2008

MRGC are launching a salary survey to all members and non-members and everyone is asked to participate and return it by the 30th June Click here for more information


Dutch government introduces payment ban against Online Gaming

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

A measure that imposes criminal penalties on banks and credit card companies for facilitating Dutch citizens gambling on foreign gaming sites has been confirmed by the Dutch Ministry of Justice.

A dossier of illegal online gaming operators will be given to public prosecutors for further action against those who offer gambling services without a permit in the Netherlands.

Although being warned by the European Commission over its restrictive policies, this move will surely further widen the gap between the two sides and it remains to be seen what further action will be taken by both the Dutch Authorities and the European Court of Justice.


The EGBA supports EC comments on the Italian RG Draft Decree

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The European and Betting Association supports the EC’s decision to issue formal comments on the Italian Decree on Remote Gaming, which imposes burdensome and costly obligations on operators.

This draft decree seeks to impose tight restrictions on the types of games which a player in Italy may bet on, thus potentially reducing competition, to the detriment of the consumers On the other hand, it imposes obligations on the Remote Gaming Operators to connect to the Italian regulator’s centralised system, leading to additional costs and possibly creating a technological barrier for foreign operators.

Meanwhile the Italian Draft decree has also raised concerns from Malta in the form of a Detailed Opinion to the European Commission.


France may partially open its Sports Betting Market by 2010

Thursday, April 10, 2008

The French government is proposing to open its sports betting market to private competition by 2010, however, the intention appears to be to allow state-owned PMU to maintain its monopoly on organizing bets, while permitting private licensed operators to market these bets to customers.

During their presidency commencing in July, the French will try to promote this version of gambling market deregulation, which could gain support from other state members in the EU such as the Netherlands, Finland, Germany and Sweden who have all had clashes with the EU regarding the liberalisation of cross border remote gambling.


Aland considers change in its Remote Gaming laws

Thursday, April 03, 2008

The government of Aland, an autonomous region of Finland, is considering changing the current rules governing the gaming monopoly with a new licensing system. This should seek to attract online gaming companies in order to compete with licensing jurisdictions like Malta and Gibraltar. It is very unlikely to succeed due to heavy Finish tax rates, which are very unattractive when compared to Malta and Gibraltar, considered to be the two leading remote gaming hubs in the European region.


Betfair wins in Western Australia

Thursday, April 03, 2008

The Australian High Court has ruled in favour of allowing Western Australian residents to legally place bets with the licensed online betting exchanges.

In 2007 the state government had passed several laws banning local residents from placing bets with betting exchanges, claiming that it undermines the industry’s integrity if companies are allowed to offer ‘lay bets’ where a wager can back the loser in a race.

Betfair challenged the validity of these laws by bringing the case before the Australian High Court. The High court ruled (in what is being considered as a landmark case) in favour of Betfair citing that the ruling of the State Government imposes discriminatory and protectionist burdens on the interstate trade thus contravening Section 92 of the Australian Constitution which protects the freedom of trade between states.

This court also allowed Betfair to publish race fields between Tasmania, where the company is licensed, as well as in any other state.

Meanwhile the State government and the industry claim that this decision will adversely hit the Western Australian racing industry.


Unibet Loses its Appeal in the Netherlands

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Unibet has lost its appeal against the Dutch state lottery. In its verdict the court said it found no inconsistency between the Dutch Betting & Gaming Act and European Law.

This is the second time that the Dutch court has ruled against Unibet; In October 2007, the same court ruled that Unibet should, with immediate effect, stop gaming/betting services to Dutch citizens; pay the Dutch state lottery’s legal costs and was fined €100,000 per day up to a maximum of € 3 million, if Unibet ignored that ruling and kept offering these services to Dutch citizens.

Last week, this same court found Unibet guilty of breaching the Dutch gaming act, enforcing the ruling of € 100,000 penalty per day.

This ruling, together with that of Ladbrokes, could further widen the rift between the Netherlands and the European Commission, which gave the Netherlands up to the end of April to bring its laws in conformity with its obligations under the EC Treaty. It is to be seen how the European Commission will react to this latest ruling. It is hoped that it comes down hard on the Netherlands.


Investigation into discrimination by US

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The handling by the US of online betting companies, and the officials of said companies, hailing from the EU should be investigated on the grounds of possible discrimination.

The Remote Gambling Association (RGA) had raised a formal trade complaint which said that the US was in violation of international trade law by threatening and pressing criminal prosecutions against foreign online gaming operators while allowing domestic US horse betting operators to flourish.

Shareholders are waiting to see the outcome of such actions by Mr Peter Mendelson, the EU trade commissioner.


France warned by EU Commission

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

France''s draft law to oblige banks to block payments made by French citizens to online betting companies has come under challenge by the EU Commission.

The EU commission issued a detailed opinion outlining why the French draft law breaks EU rules on the free movement of services and gave them until the 31st March, 2008 to change the proposed laws. Non compliance within the specified period will open the doors for immediate infringement procedures to be taken.

Malta, a major player in the online gaming industry within the EU has added its name to the detailed opinion.

This action follows other actions taken by the Internal Market Commissioner, Mr Charlie McCreevy, in recent weeks against Germany, Greece and the Netherlands in a bid to liberalise cross border services within the EU.


Greece and Netherlands formally requested to change their laws

Monday, March 03, 2008

The EU commission, in the second stage of the infringement procedures against Greece and the Netherlands, found that the restrictions on gambling services have not been shown to be necessary, proportionate and non-discriminatory. They have been asked to amend their laws and allow the free movement of gambling services. If they do not reply satisfactorily within two months the EU Commission may refer the matter to the European court of Justice.

The complaint against Greece refers to sports betting and other games of chance whilst the Netherland complaint only deals with sports betting.

The decision is based on a previous ECJ ruling that clearly stated that protection of consumers must be consistent and systematic in the limitation of gambling services. Consequently, Greece and Netherlands were found to be not following this court decision when blocking gambling activity from companies licensed in other states.

This decision is another in a serious of EU decisions that will open up the EU market for online gambling companies licensed in Malta.


A Precedent set in French Courts with possible serious implications

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Using the name of a football team in any text on the website, other than is completely necessary to offer the bet, was found to be counterfeiting the name. In a Civil court in France the use of the trademarked word ''Juventus'' by Unibet and William HIll in slogans or comments used to promote their online betting activity was deemed to be ''counterfeiting'' as it was necessary for the placing of a bet. Unibet and William Hill were fined €1 each which was to be paid to Juventus but they also had to pay the legal fees amounting to €10,000. Does this mean that betting companies offering bets on Tennis, formula 1, football have to be careful everytime they use a particular word on their website. Could this be the next hurdle that the French Tennis Federation will use in an attempt to prevent sports betting companies offering bets on the French Grand slam, Roland Garros. Time will tell!! MRGC Management Board.


MRGC will be exhibiting at ICEi in London

Thursday, January 17, 2008

MRGC will be exhibiting at this year ICEi exhibition in London on Jan22-Jan24. The MRGC will be on the stand together with the Malta Lotteries and Gaming Authority. Members of the board will be manning the stand. We look forward to meeting you.


Ban on Online Gaming in Germany

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Unfortunately, 2008 has started pretty much where 2007 left off. The first news item relating to online gambling is about a ban on the industry by Germany. Court cases have already gone against a number of German states, such as Hessen. The state had tried to ban online gambling, and the court ruled that it was impossible to create a law to ban online gambling as it could not be implemented and this fact made it ''null and void". In spite of this and other rulings and EC law, all 16 states agreed to impose a ban starting from 1st January, 2008 which should last till 2011. Betting companies are already gearing up for legal action and in fact, the feeling is that this law will soon be overturned as it breaches EU law and there are already precedents against these draconian measures. The MRGC is holding a meeting to discuss whether to take legal action against the German state.


Meeting for members - 7th December 2007

Friday, November 30, 2007

A meeting was held on the 7th December 2007 at the Corinthia San Gorg at 15:00 hrs. During this meeting the following issues were discussed:

- "Agreements for the shared conduct of a remote gaming business - Their regulation and ancillary matters." Presented by: Deloitte

- Discussion and feedback about the consultative Document on the Transposition of Directive 2005/60/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26th October, 2005 on the Prevention of the use of the Financial System for the purposes of Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing. (Document can be found on www.fiumalta.org) Presented by Alan Alden, MRGC Management Board.


Unibet CEO arrested - The French are at it again!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Peter Nylander, the CEO of UNIBET was arrested whilst boarding a flight in Holland. In a move that has outraged everyone who believes in the EU and what the EU Treaty stands for the French have really outdone themselves this time.

The Unibet acting CEO Ragnar Hellenius commented: "This is clearly a breach of the EU Treaty and the fundamental principles of the European Union."

France have lost all their cases both at EU level and in their high courts but appear to be capable of doing anything to protect their monopolies!! UNIBET has a remote gaming license in Malta, Italy and the UK, all of them EU member countries.


LN270 of 2007 - Submission of Audited Financial Statement

Thursday, October 18, 2007

This Legal Notice improved upon two requirements. Firstly, Article 4 has been changed so that any body corporate registered with the MFSA can be granted a license.

Secondly, the time period for the submission of the audited financial statements has been extended from 60 days to 180 days.

These positive changes will be well received by the remote gaming operators and auditors alike.


AGM announced - 25th October, 2007

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The MRGC Annual General Meeting will be held on the 25th October at 13.00 at Le Meridien, St Julian's.

Please remember to register if you are going to attend by sending an email to info@mrgc.org.mt stating member name and number and names of attendees. Only one vote per paid up member will be allowed.

See you there!!


NSO Workshop - 2nd Aug 2007

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The NSO Workshop was held on Thursday 2nd August and was well attended. Click here for more information & registration.


German Treaty to Ban all Private Operators can be passed

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

It is being said that the German state of Schleswig-Holstein could decide to ratify the draft Interstate Lotteries Treaty. In December 2006 the Treaty was not passed when the state of Schleswig-Holstein failed to ratify it. All states have to ratify such a treaty for it to be passed. The treaty seeks to ban private operators from offering their services to German citizens. Schleswig-Holstein’s decision will likely bring the German regional authorities into conflict with the European Commission which has just started phase 2 proceedings against France, Sweden and Greece for restricting freedom of cross border services related to remote gaming.


French court of appeal challenges PMU

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The Cour de Cassation, which is France's highest court of appeal has ruled that the PMU could not be justified for seeking sanctions against Zeturf, which is a Maltese company licensed to operate an online betting service from Malta, an EU country. The only way that such sanctions could be justified is if they formed part of a coherent and comprehensive plan to combat crime.

This ruling follows closely the ruling just released by the European commission which has given France and Sweden two months to justify their actions which are preventing newcomers from entering the market. It is quite clear that the monopolies are taking unjustified actions to protect their markets and revenues.


EC takes action against France, Greece and Sweden

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The Commission acts to remove obstacles to the provision of sports betting services in France, Greece and Sweden

The European Commission has taken action to put an end to the restriction over the free movement of sports betting services being implemented by France, Greece and Sweden. The Commission has formally requested France and Sweden to amend their laws after consideration of their replies to the letters of formal notice sent to them in April and October 2006 - IP/06/436 and IP/06/1362 refer.

These formal requests take the form of "reasoned opinions", this is the second stage of the infringement procedure as laid down in Article 226 of the EC Treaty. If no satisfactory reply ios received within two months, the Commission may refer the matter to the European Court of Justice. With regards to Greece the Commission has decided to send an official request for information on national legislation restricting the supply of sports betting services. This takes the form of a letter of formal notice, the first step in the Article 226 infringement procedure. Greece has two months in which to respond.

The latest information on infringement proceedings against Member States can be found at the following URL: http://ec.europa.eu/community_law/eulaw/index_en.htm


Could EC seek compensation from US?

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Last Wednesday at a meeting of the World Trade Organisation, the EU and Antigua and Barbuda lodged a complaint against the United States of America for ignoring previous WTO rulings and going ahead with the ban of remote gambling.

Antigua and Barbuda are seeking compensation in the region of USD3.4 Billion a year in lost revenues from the industry. The EU is looking for compensation in the form of unspecified market access for its service companies. The US intends to defend these claims based on the fact that none of the parties, which could also include Japan, made any committments at the Uruguay Round towards gambling and betting.

If the US lose they will seek arbitration so an end to this matter is not close.


Google increase gambling ad ban

Monday, June 11, 2007

Google has now extended its gambling ad ban to also include Play for Fun gambling sites. This move has drawn criticism from various quarters namely gambling community and the UK press.


Regulation instead of prohibition in the US?

Monday, June 11, 2007

Bills are being proposed which counter the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, a very unpopular bill, by proposing licensing and regulation. It could also solve the WTO issue that the US had with Antigua.


US congresswomans call for 1 year study

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Congresswoman Shelley Barkley’s call for the National Academy of Sciences to provide a one-year study of the growth of online gaming was announced late last week. Barney Frank who himself is proposing a bill to legalise and regulate online gambling is co-sponsoring her bill.


US unexpected reaction to WTO decision

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Antigua and Barbuda were very disappointed with the US decision to remove internet gambling services from the scope of its General Agreement on Trade in Services committment. The US trade representative stated that it intends to clarify its commitment involving recreational services which was interpreted by the WTO in the recent dispute with Antigua and Barbuda as including a US commitment to allow internet gambling.


Meeting of the 4th May - NSO

Monday, May 07, 2007

The meeting held by the MRGC at the San Gorg Corinthia was addressed by the NSO who provided feedback on the information gathered for 2005 and provided some hints about figures for 2006. There was good news in that an abridged version of the annual questionnaire has been designed for quarterly feedback.

Following comments by some of the attendees a workshop is to be organised on the electronic version of the questionnaire. Operators should co-operate better and provide more timely feedback to the NSO.


EC supports Unibet in ASO-UCI row

Monday, May 07, 2007

Unibet has gained the support of the EC in their fight against being banned from participating with their cycling team in classic races. The team has not even been allowed to participate without the Unibet logo.

The EC has stated that the French consistency is very questionable given that other teams are sponsered by gambling operators.


MRGC meeting on the 4th

Monday, April 30, 2007

Have you booked your place for the meeting of next Friday? If not send an email to info@mrgc.org.mt asap!!


Barney Frank - Legalising online gaming in the US

Monday, April 30, 2007

Barney Frank's new bill will seek to license and regulate online gaming in the USA. Its been met with mixed reactions as it is not clear whether foreign companies will be allowed to enter the market.

Antigua also welcomed the bill after their WTO victory and believe that they should be allowed access to US customers.


Remote Gaming Standards issued for Public Enquiry

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

The Malta Standards Authority has issued the remote gaming standards for public enquiry. The public have until the 8th June, 2007 to submit any comments and are encouraged to do so. For a copy of the draft standards and the comments form please email robert.grima@msa.org.mt


EC urges German Regions to rethink online gambling policy

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

German regions involved in trying to create a ban on online gambling have been urged to rethink their policies regarding the limiting of foreign competition in their local betting industries. It marks the latest clash in which the European Commission has gone after EU countries which restrict gambling to state-run monopolies.

Germany will have till the end of 2007 to rectify the situation and move towards allowing other EU internet gaming companies to operate within its borders.


WTO rules in favour of Antigua against USA

Friday, March 30, 2007

The WTO ruled that the ban on offshore Internet gambling payments is illegal, upholding a previous decision that allowed for possible sanctions.

Shares in publicly listed companies have risen following the news. However, it is not yet clear whether this ruling will open up the US market.

US spokesman said that the report allows it to maintain a ban on Internet gambling to ``protect public order and public morals'' as long as it doesn't discriminate against foreign companies.


EC rules against Denmark, Finland and Hungary

Monday, March 26, 2007

The European Commission has taken action to remove restrictions on the free movement of sportsbetting services in Denmark, Finland and Hungary. These findings follow on from the infringement procedures initiated against these countries in April 2006.

Germany, France and Austria also have infringement procedures initiated against them and it is hoped that the results will be the same.


UK Gaming Tax Announced

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The Chancellor has announced a 15% Remote Gaming Tax which has virtually shut the door for attracting new operators and possibly a signal for existing ones to transfer to other EU jurisdictions where they may compete better with other operators. There, however, will not be VAT charged on remote gaming transactions.


ECJ Rules in favour of UNIBET

Friday, March 16, 2007

Another landmark victory in the European courts for Remote Gaming operators. Unibet can advertise in Sweden until the Swedish Supreme Court makes a ruling. Unibet took action against the Swedish government in December 2003 when they were stopped from operating in Sweden. It seems that state monopolies are running out of time!


UIGE Act - Congressman to try and repeal it

Friday, March 16, 2007

It appears that congressman Barney Frank is currently working on legislation to repeal the unlawful internet gambling enforcement act, which act he describes as one of the stupidest laws ever passed. No time frames have been set but the news has generated a positive feeling with share prices in Partygaming, 888 and Sportingbet all recording a rise.


Placanica Case - ECJ Ruling

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

On the 6th March 2007 a major decision was taken in favour of the egaming industry by the European Court of Justice which found that Italy went against community law by charging Placanica and others for collecting bets on behalf of Stanley International.


Turkey Passes Law to Ban Online Gaming

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

On the 28th February, 2007 Turkey passed a law which virtually bans online games of chance being provided by foreign companies. Another move by another country to protect the state monopolies and their tax revenues.

Bwin have temporarily withdrawn from the market due to the harsh penalties and prison sentences threatened by the new law. EU commentators have stated that this action goes against a pre-entry agreement Turkey has with the EU about cross border services.


MRGC Meeting of the 6th December

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

On the 6th December a meeting was held to discuss the UIGE ACT and other various gaming issues. The meeting was well attended. Afterwards a party was held at Club22 kindly sponsored by BettingJobs.

The presentations of that afternoon event can be found in the members section.


Annual General Meeting

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

The Annual General Meeting of the Malta Remote Gaming Council was held on the 28th June 2006 at 17:30hours. Elections for the new Management Board were held and changes to the statute were discussed. An EGM was agreed upon to finalise and approve the changes to the statute.


Updates to website

Monday, June 12, 2006

The Website is currently being updated to be more informative and user friendly. Please login and look around.


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