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Thursday, June 14, 2018
 
by Andrew Tottenham  

Managing Director, Tottenham & Co

Something has been happening in Paris, and few in the international gaming industry have heard about it.

Casino gambling has historically not been legal in the city of Paris. In 1920, a French government decree stated that no casinos could be within 100 kilometres of the city, after an earlier decree had banished casinos to the seaside and spa towns where the rich congregated. It was an effort to make sure the poor did not gamble. But in 1931, after pressure was applied, an exception was made for Enghien les Bains, a commune in the northern suburbs of Paris. A clue in the name, les Bains, indicates a spa. It is 14 kilometres from the centre of the city, but it is not within the city limits. Today the Enghien casino is, unsurprisingly, France's largest casino, with 500 slot machines and 40 table games, operated by Groupe Lucien Barriere.
 



by Luke Haward
CDC Gaming Reports
 

Virtual Reality has come too far by now for it  not to be the future. The sad unspoken fact behind the curtain is that it has too many military applications to ever suffer a total short out in investment; if only for that reason, the money will continue to flow. Happily, the gaming potential also is essentially unbounded, though perhaps some few years away from showing its true colours.

Virtual casinos themselves, though still few and far between currently, are the very beginning of what we'll see in the virtual environment longer-term. What we're far more likely to see sudden progression with is the virtual equivalent of loot boxes. More immersive gaming is just around the corner, and the opportunities for risk and reward in development are very real.



This issue sees an article written by Jessica Meier and Joerg Hoffman of law firm Melchers about developments in the German online gambling market. This article is the first in what will be a series of articles, written by experts, about the various gambling markets in Europe. - Andrew Tottenham
Headlines about German gambling regulations usually relate to Germany's core legal framework on gambling, the Interstate Treaty on Gambling (Interstate Treaty), as well as the questionable applicability of some of its key restrictions under EU law.

This article, however, will look at the de facto "parallel universe" of gambling regulation which has existed alongside the Interstate Treaty these past six years, and, in particular, a new initiative recently introduced by the Schleswig-Holstein Ministry of the Interior which provides for a transitional arrangement for sports betting open to both existing Schleswig-Holstein licensees and other interested parties.


The Euro News Revue
Luke says: This brief piece, which sums up some recent tragic stories linked to child gambling, is certainly eye-catching, opening as it does with the stories of two teenagers suffering the effects of profound gambling addiction. One is a lad of 15 who's expected to soon be officially determined the first known teenage victim of Internet gaming addiction in the UK. The teen was apparently once an avid athlete, county captain of his local rugby and cricket teams, who was rendered housebound by his addiction. More shocking than that is the case of a 9-year-old girl whose addiction to Fortnite has apparently seen her placed in a rehab programme. The girl was in the habit of staying up at night to play without her parents' knowledge and had been discovered depositing funds from their credit cards to buy in-game items. If we're honest with ourselves, these stories are only the tip of a hidden iceberg. There are plenty more related challenges ahead as gaming becomes more pervasive, immersive, and invasive.
Luke says: Hard Rock has done the thing in Catalonia. Impressive, given the recent political turmoil there; then again, I guess, money talks, and that region is no exception to the cliché. The thing is that the Hard Rock is such a universal entertainment brand at this point, straddling, as it does, music, dining, retail and gambling. With typical American swagger, it casually reps itself as everything and a casino, meaning that it gets along well in many domains and geographies, playing its US roots (although we should note that the brand was founded in London in 1971) to its advantage while selling itself as, almost, an adult Disney. As a brand, it has somehow managed to get gambling a pass as a simple, commonplace part of everyday life; almost uniquely in the gaming industry, Hard Rock can effectively walk straight into a jurisdiction and start doing business. The new place will have Casino Barcelona and its adjacent Hotel Arts as a relatively nearby neighbour, approximately 100km away. I'm sure I'll be down there to check out the games in due course.  
Luke says: National Lottery operator the Camelot Group conducted a strategic review recently, a move which, amongst other things, seeks to redirect the media scorn levied at the firm last year after the national press uncovered shortcomings regarding the percentage of funds Camelot was directing at charitable concerns. Scratch cards have been gaining dominance over traditional lottery draws in recent years, and the former direct fewer pence per pound at charitable ends. Still, Gambling Insider's report makes only modest mention of these charitable ends is given in, although it does drop a casual reference to an outright rise in charitable earnings through Camelot of £27 million (out of a total £1.65 billion) over the previous year. The overall figure, however, is conspicuously absent from the report, and the concern in last year's exposés is that, in relative terms, charitable contributions have been in decline.  
Andrew says: Some people will never learn. Having already been burnt once, casino operator Shambala is now planning a new casino in the Russian region of Primorye, near Vladivostok. You will remember that Russia had a large and unregulated casino market that was closed in 2009 on the orders of President Vladimir Putin. Casinos were then only allowed in four zones: Krasnodar, Kalingrad, Altai and Promorye. So Shambala opened a casino in Azov city, which is in Krasnodar, with 50 tables and 750 slot machines - only to be told in 2016 that they have to close down by the end of this year because the Krasnodar zone was moved to Sochi to appease investors in the Winter Olympics infrastructure, and they need some kind of return on their investment.
Andrew says: Holland Casino have transferred the license for the casino they operated at Schipol Airport to a location in the north of Amsterdam but nearer to the city centre. Airport casinos are very difficult to make work: it is difficult to create an area conducive to play in the departure area; with security checks, people tend not to have too much time on their hands before a flight; and now, with new or increased fees for hold (or checked) baggage, people tend to travel with their luggage. A larger, better located casino this will undoubtedly be a success for Holland Casino.
Luke says: Whoever doubted the outcome of this one doesn't know the Swiss. Laudably democratic and solemnly independent, they were probably the most likely nation to hold a binding referendum on whether to allow foreign operators to ply their gambling wares within their borders (amongst other matters), and also the most likely to eventually firmly opt to keep that action to themselves. The main argument against the law, in its current form, concerns the barriers to the free movement of trade, as well as some uncertainty about the potential for censorship. The law will also raise the limit for taxable gambling winnings from a thousand Swiss francs to a million, something which will surely hit the government deep in its purse. Concern from many of those who protested the law came not from a specific issue with blocking foreign gambling sites, per se, but over the dangerous precedent set by blocking any foreign sites at all.  
Luke says: Conservationist group BirdLife has raised some complaints about the development of Melco's huge casino project in Cyprus, claiming that the plans were approved without a sufficiently systematic environmental review. If true, this would leave the project in breach of both EU and Cypriot laws intended to protect endangered species. BirdLife argues that additional reviews are required due to the site's proximity to a Natura 2000 site, the Akrotiri Salt Lake, which is home to several endangered bird species. BirdLife also severely critiqued the existing impact assessment performed by the firm, calling it "insufficient and questionable" and further alleging that politicians and gaming regulators, as well as the media, ignored these issues for the sake of easy profit. In related news, Melco is rushing ahead with its efforts to put in place a temporary casino to run near the construction site which is to feature 33 gaming tables and 240+ machines. Better get raking those pots, lads.  
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