France Considering Relaxing Casino Location Laws

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A recent report submitted to the French Interior Minister has suggested expanding the list of eligible cities able to host casinos. Currently, 38 French departments out of 101 do not have a casino.

According to MP Jean-Luc Warsmann, relaxation will be proposed for tourist municipalities. The report proposes that a municipality labelled as a tourist city and part of a community of more than 100,000 inhabitants should be able to operate a casino.

Casinos fall under the law of June 15, 1907, which initially only allowed seaside resorts or spa towns to host a casino. This legislation was later expanded to climatic stations, then in 1988 to the cities at the head of an agglomeration of more than 500,000 inhabitants with specific criteria. Jean-Luc Warsmann and Didier Herbillion, mayor of Sedan in the Ardennes region of France, have been pushing for the relaxation of this legislation for more than 15 years.


Lithuanian Gambling Supervision Service Clarifies Warning Requirements for Sponsors

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The Lithuanian Gambling Supervision Service has clarified the rules around its requirement for a warning in gambling ads and how these rules apply to sponsorships.

In February 2020, the country’s legislature, the Seimas, passed a law that introduced mandatory warnings about gambling-related harm on all gambling advertisements from July 1 that year. The bill was passed by consensus after no objections were raised at its first reading.

The Gambling Supervision Service initially determined that the law did not apply to sponsorships. However this week, a year after the first law was passed, the Seimas passed another law clarifying that certain sponsorships that resemble traditional advertising will be covered.

The Supervision Service has now outlined the exact cases when a sponsorship does and does not require a warning.

It said that warnings are not required where an advertisement is worn on the clothing of a sponsored person or team, nor is it required at an event where the person or team is participating. It is also not required if the name of an event or team is sponsored.

However, the warning is necessary if a message does not refer to a specific event in which a sponsored person or team partakes and the time and place at which the event occurs. It must also exist if the sponsorship message contains more than the brand name and trademarks, particularly if the message includes a mention of the types of gambling services offered.

The regulator also ruled that these deals can only be referred to as “sponsorships,” and not “partnerships” or similar language.


Philippines’ Lower Congressional Chamber Passes Bill to Tax Online Gambling Firms

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The Philippines’ lower congressional chamber has passed a bill imposing taxes on online gambling firms.

Online gambling companies, known as Philippine offshore gambling operators (POGOs), offer online betting to customers in mainland China, where gambling is banned. In 2019, President Rodrigo Duterte rejected China’s call to ban such firms, which have fuelled property demand and retail spending in the Philippines since 2016, saying the Southeast Asian nation needed the jobs and fees they generated.

Lawmakers in the lower house approved on third and final reading a measure Congressman Joey Salceda, one of the bill’s authors, said in a statement would generate 144 billion pesos ($3 billion) in taxes.

The upper chamber has yet to pass the counterpart bill. Both chambers will have to reconcile the bills before seeking Duterte’s signature.

Under the proposal, offshore gambling licence holders would pay 5% tax on gross gaming receipts and revenues from other services. It would also impose a 25% tax on gross annual income of foreign employees of the firms, which employ tens of thousands of mainland Chinese workers.


New Ukrainian Gambling Regulator Approves First Licence

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Ukraine’s Commission for the Regulation of Gambling and Lotteries (KRAIL) has approved the first gambling license.

This license has been awarded to operator Spacex for its Kosmolot brand. The operator must pay a UAH30.7m ($1.1m) online licence fee to obtain a five-year licence.

Spacex applied for an online casino licence in December. Its application was initially delayed because the commission asked for more information on the firm’s ownership structure to check it met the requirement that licensees are based in Ukraine.


Kerala High Court Issues Notice to Virat Kohli in a Plea Seeking Ban on Online Gambling

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The Kerala High Court has issued notice to Indian cricket team captain Virat Kohli and the state government in a plea seeking ban on online gambling in the state.

Besides Kohli, a division bench, headed by Chief Justice S Manikumar, also issued notices to Malayalam actor Aju Varghese and South Indian actress Tamanna Bhatia. The celebrities are the brand ambassadors of online rummy games.

Petitioner Pauly Vadakkan alleged online gambling is now a growing menace in the state and the primary targets will be middle to low-income group people who will be enticed to make easy money. People who fall to the fraud platforms often use what is left in their life savings, he said.

The petitioner said there have been many reported cases across the state in which people have got scammed.

Referring to the recent alleged death by suicide of a 28-year-old man, an ISRO employee hailing from Kattakkada in Thiruvananthapuram district, the petitioner said the man had fallen into the trap of online rummy game and pushed himself to debt of Rs 21 lakh.

Finding no means to repay the debt, he took his life, the petitioner alleged.

These platforms endorsed by celebrities, including Kohli, Bhatia and Varghese, attract their audience with fake promises while in reality, the probability of such winnings are slim to none, thus making a fool of unsuspecting people, the plea said.

The petitioner submitted that at present the law governing gaming activities in the state, the Kerala Gaming Act 1960, does not bring within its purview any online gambling, wagering or betting activities.

The act extends to gaming activities conducted in a “Common gaming house” (which is an enclosed physical premise such as house, room, tent, etc.) by using any “instrument of gaming kept or used in such enclosed physical premises for the accrual of profit or gain to the person owning, occupying, keeping such instruments of gaming in the enclosed physical premises.”

“Thus a person sitting in his private house, using these online gambling platforms from his house arguably may not come within the definition of a common gaming house,” the petitioner said.


White Hat Gaming to Pay UKGC £1.3M Settlement Over AML Failings

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White Hat Gaming has agreed to pay a settlement of £1.3m after a UK Gambling Commission investigation identified a series of money laundering and social responsibility failures with the Malta-based operator.

The investigation identified failings in the way online operator White Hat Gaming identified and managed customers who were at higher risk of money laundering and problem gambling.

Inadequate anti-money laundering and social responsibility procedures led to failures including not establishing the source of funds for a customer who lost £70,000 in three months and ineffective interaction with both a second customer who lost £50,000 in just six hours and a third customer who lost £85,000 in just over one hour.

In addition to paying a £1.3m regulatory settlement, White Hat Gaming has committed to an ongoing programme of improvements to strengthen its policies and procedures.

Richard Watson, Commission Executive Director, said: “Through our tough compliance and enforcement activity we will continue our work to raise standards in the industry and continue to hold failing operators to account.”

The operator’s £1.3m payment in lieu of a financial penalty will be directed towards delivering the National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harms.


Czech Government Prevails in Latest Casino Kartáč Case

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The Czech government has claimed a victory in a legal dispute with land-based operator Casino Kartáč Group, in relation to the operation of interactive video lottery terminals (VLTs).

Casino Kartáč had issued a claim for €53.8m in compensation for lost profit, alleging that the Ministry of Finance’s procedure for issuing permits for VLTs was incorrect.

However, during a hearing in District Court in Prague 1, legal representatives of the Office for Representation of the State in Property Matters (ÚZSVM) argued that the Ministry had acted in accordance with national law.

The District Court agreed with the ÚZSVM and dismissed the compensation claim from Casino Kartáč.

“The internal legal team did an excellent job again and has already defended many billions of crowns in the state in protracted lawsuits with this company,” Finance Minister Alena Schillerová said.

“The courts have repeatedly ruled in our favour, which confirms our strong legal position. In addition, by managing these disputes without the involvement of external law firms, we save the state considerable financial resources,” the Minister added.


Stats Perform Receives IBIA Data Standards Accreditation

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Stats Perform has become the first betting data provider to be awarded the International Betting Integrity Association’s (IBIA) independently audited Data Standards Accreditation for the collection and distribution of sports event data for betting.

The award represents the highest mark of betting data quality and integrity available and is assessed by expert independent auditors, eCOGRA.

“I am delighted to announce that Stats Perform is the first company to meet the data standards protocols IBIA published in October 2020. In passing the independent auditing process, Stats Perform has demonstrated secure and robust internal procedures for the collation of sporting event data for betting and may now utilise the Data Standards Kitemark,” Khalid Ali, CEO of IBIA, said.

“Stats Perform met every requirement set out in the data standards protocols. The company was well-prepared for the auditing process, and the evidence that was reviewed was representative of a company culture that is in line with the core principles of IBIA’s data integrity standards and committed to continually improving upon them,” Shaun McCallaghan, CEO of eCOGRA, said.

“This accreditation is thanks to tireless quality and integrity efforts from our sports data operations teams over the past 15 years and, whilst we’re grateful for the recognition, we know our efforts don’t stop here. We continuously search for new threats and assess opportunities to improve our sports data processes, people and technology,” Andrew Ashenden, Chief Betting Officer at Stats Perform, said.

“Stats Perform’s RunningBall and Opta sports data is chosen by the world’s leading rights holders, sportsbooks and pricing providers to power exceptional in-play betting experiences for millions of global sports bettors,” Andrew Ashenden added.

“Our priority at Stats Perform is the integrity of the betting markets and of the competitions upon which they rely. Effective risk management of our data supply chain involves ongoing investment, collaboration and commitment across numerous expert teams who live and breathe the quality of our product. We are very proud to be recognised by the IBIA for our dedication to quality and integrity,” Jake Marsh, Global Head of Integrity at Stats Perform, said.


Delhi Court Seeks Centre’s Stand in PIL to Ban Gambling Websites

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The Delhi High Court has issued notice to the Central government on a public suit seeking direction to take steps to ban and prevent online gambling websites from operating in the country.

A division bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Prateek Jalan asked the Centre and the Delhi government to file reply on the public interest litigation seeking direction from the Ministry of Information Technology to exercise its powers under sections of the Information Technology Act, 2000, to prevent online gambling websites.

The PIL, filed by one Avinash Mehrotra represented through advocates Awantika Manohar, Siddharth Iyer and Prashant Kumar, sought directions to the Ministry of Finance to take steps to recover taxes due from both persons who played such online gambling, and more importantly, those who run and operate these websites.

It also sought an appropriate writ, order or direction, directing the respondents to prosecute the unscrupulous owners/proprietors, and the promoters of the online gambling websites, in accordance with the law.

The plea submitted that gambling or wagering on games of chance is per se illegal according to the laws of our country, and most state legislations have expressly forbidden the same. It sought the quashing of the order dated 21 October 2020, issued by the Union of India, stating that it does not have the competence to block gambling and betting websites in India.


Swedish Gambling Market Commission Proposes More Restrictions on iGaming

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The Swedish Gambling Market Commission (Spelmarknadsutredningen) has delivered a report on the country’s igaming regulations. Led by special investigator and former MP, Anna-Lena Sörenson, the report has recommended several stricter controls on the market including a proposal that the national regulator Spelinspektionen should implement a risk classification for gambling products.

The report suggests that games classified as the highest risk should be banned from advertising between 6 am and 9 pm. It also proposes that Sweden should make permanent the SEK5000 deposit limit that has been temporarily imposed for online casino games during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Other proposals include the introduction of a law laying out reporting requirements for operators and a relaxation of bonus restrictions for gaming operators that generate funds for charity, such as lotteries, to enable them to better compete against private operators. It also suggests greater controls on unlicensed gaming, which is now subject to a separate enquiry.

The report rejected proposals for statutory levels on horseracing and other sports betting. It also concluded that the Gambling Act was not the correct tool to include controls on loot boxes in video games, which it said should be studied at the European Union level.

“This has been a complex assignment that has touched on a large number of different issues linked to gaming regulation, which in some cases have required difficult trade-offs. I believe that the proposals we come up with today can both contribute to strengthening consumer protection and make regulation more appropriate,” Sörenson said.

“Spelmarknadsutredningen’s report will form an important basis for the Government’s forthcoming measures,” Ardalan Shekarabi, Minister for Social Security, said.

However, the operator association Branscheforenigen för Onlienspel (BOS) expressed alarm at the report’s recommendations.

Gustaf Hoffstedt, secretary-general of BOS, said: “Sweden has invested in a licensing system with 102 operators that offer a high level of consumer protection.

“They pay around SEK4bn annually in gaming tax, invest in workplaces and staff, sponsor Swedish sports and contribute to Swedish technology know-how.

“Banning licensed gaming companies from marketing their services to Swedish consumers while leaving unlicensed companies free to offer their services to Swedish consumers is a bad proposal.

“This only leads to reduced consumer protection and to erode the Swedish gaming market.”