Wednesday, April 1, 2020
By Andrew Tottenham
Managing Director, Tottenham & Co

Most of Europe is in lockdown. The whole United States will probably follow suit in the next few days or so, as the virus spreads across the country and its devastating impact becomes widely known. There is about a month’s lag between infection and death, less if health services are overwhelmed. It must be remembered that the picture that the number of dead paints was painted three or four weeks ago.

The length of time before this is “over” and the depth of the crisis will very much depend on what we do now. As I mentioned in my last article, when you discuss the exponential growth of the spread of the virus, a small change in the transmission rate can have an extremely large impact a month or so later. That is why hand washing, lockdowns and social distancing now are so important to slow the rate of transmission.

By Lisette den Butter and Tessa van den Ende
Bird & Bird Commercial Group

On 3 March 2020, the Dutch Minister of Justice responsible for online gambling policy submitted the Remote Gambling Decree ( Besluit Kansspelen op afstand) to the Dutch Parliament’s lower chamber, the House of Representatives. The Decree is part of secondary legislation in which the Remote Gambling Bill ( Wet Kansspelen op afstand) is further developed and completed. The Decree contains the conditions applicable to online-gambling licences and lays out vital secondary regulation that applies to online gambling in the Netherlands. In addition to the Decree, the Dutch minister also published two letters answering questions which were raised in previous parliamentary debates, relating to the cooling-off period and the decision not to ban advertising for online gambling.

In this commentary, we elaborate on the confirmation of the extended cooling-off period and the decision not to ban advertisement for online gambling, and briefly touch on the regulations set out in the Remote Gambling Decree.

By Andrew Tottenham

In the last issue of The Tottenham Report, I discussed how little many of us understand numbers and to demonstrate this, I posed a probability problem and promised to explain the counterintuitive answer in this issue.

To recap. You are on the TV game show, “Let’s Make A Deal.” You’re given three doors to choose from. Behind two of the doors are goats and behind one of the doors is a car. Whatever door you select, you keep what is behind it.

You make your selection and the host, Monty Hall, opens one of the other doors and shows you a goat. He asks, “Do you want to change the door you have chosen?”

The Euro News Revue
by Hannah Gannagé-Stewart and Andrew Tottenham
SBC News - 31 March 2020
The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has given initial clearance to the merger of The Stars Group with Flutter. This is a Phase 1 clearance by the CMA that has looked at whether consumers will be negatively affected by the merger. The negative impacts would include things like poorer quality products or reduced innovation in pricing. 

This is not the end of the review; Phase 2 will investigate the merged companies’ control of nearly 40% of the UK’s online betting market, which is significantly higher than the 25% threshold the CMA uses as a guide. Given that most sports and racing events have been cancelled, however, it is not clear what market share the combined companies will have when normal service returns.  (AT)
iGaming Business - 30 March 2020
Poland has become the latest market to call for its government’s help to combat the effects of COVID-19 on the industry. The country’s Association of Employers and Employees of Bookmakers has reported a 60% fall in the number of bets since sporting events were called off globally and expects this to get worse following the closure of retail bookmakers on 14 March. In a bid to avoid job losses and protect tax revenues in the long term, the industry body has requested a reduction in tax rates from 12% to 10% until August at the earliest, as well as a delay in the deadline for paying the taxes, normally due monthly, until September.  (HGS)
SBC News - 30 March 2020
Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) chief executive Michael Dugher has pledged to support the UK government throughout the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. In a ‘compulsory action plan’ published on 27 March, the recently established industry body outlined 10 measures for operators to strengthen social responsibility and consumer protection during the outbreak. It follows calls by a gambling-related-harm All-Party Parliamentary Group for the industry to enhance protections, but falls short of their recommendation to impose a £50 daily spending limit on punters during the crisis. Dugher disputed “the idea that the COVID-19 crisis will lead to a boom in betting”, adding, “the reality is that operators have been posting warnings to the market as revenues slide dramatically.”    (HGS)
Gaming Intelligence - 30 March 2020
Gaming Intelligence has outlined the measures contained in the BGC’s action plan, including operators being asked to ramp up safer gambling messaging and make greater efforts to promote deposit limits. Marketing affiliates were highlighted in the 10-point plan, with a ‘one strike and you’re out’ rule for those that contravene the stricter marketing guidelines. If operators and their marketing partners are successful in meeting the guidelines during the pandemic, it is difficult to imagine a step back from the practices being seen as acceptable on the other side. It stands to present a dichotomy once the full economic force of the COVID-19 outbreak is known.  (HGS)
iGaming Business - 24 March 2020
Poorly drafted legislation has left Latvia’s regulator scratching its head. Due to the global pandemic, Parliament passed a law to shut down most business in the country. Unfortunately, there are conflicting statements when it comes to online gambling. On the one hand, the law calls for a shutdown of all gambling and lotteries “except for interactive gambling” – so far so good – but later on says that the regulator, the Lotteries and Gambling Supervisory Authority, “shall suspend all gambling licences for … interactive media and or via electronic communications services”. Hence the head scratching.  (AT)
iGaming Business - 20 March 2020
The Dutch gambling regulator, Kansspelautoriteit (KSA), has narrowed its focus for 2020, concentrating on three rather than the usual four main priorities. In the past, much of the resources of the KSA has been devoted to processing licenses and monitoring operator activity. In a change of tack, the KSA will now prioritise only three areas: stopping underage play, preventing addiction and combatting illegal gambling and gambling-related crime. 

The regulator thinks that customer-protection measures in arcades and Holland Casino, the monopoly casino operator, may be deficient and will ask all licensees to evaluate whether the measure they currently put in place truly fulfill their duty of care to customers. 

It sounds like this is the start of a what could be a wide-ranging review of all gambling activity in the Netherlands. Watch this space.  (AT)
Gambling Insider - 30 March 2020
Gambling Insider reports a worrying trend for operators licensed in Sweden, revealing that the fledgling regulatory regime is driving increasing numbers of players to the black market. Citing research by betting guide, it reports that 30% of players are searching for ‘unlicensed casinos’ or using other black-market-related keywords. It is not the first time Sweden has faced criticism for its tight regulatory regime, with Germany also coming under fire as it establishes its new legislation. Referring to the latter, Bounusfinder managing director Fintan Costello said, "There is no regulated market on Earth that is proposing such damaging rules and we would urge them to take heed of Sweden’s rapid plunge toward encouraging unlicensed activity."  (HGS)
SBC News - 26 March 2020
New marketing requirements are set to come into force in Denmark this week (1 April), the country’s regulatory authority, Spillemyndigheden, has reminded its licensees. These include operators sign-posting gambling-product age-limit requirements, referring to Spillemyndigheden’s problem-gambling helpline and promotion of the Danish self-exclusion network. Operators are also required to display their Spillemyndigheden licence IDs to customers on their websites and in retail venues. In a bid to avoid any claims that the guidance is not clear enough, the regulator has pledged to provide examples of how the requirements can be met across all media formats.   (HGS)
This report is edited by Andrew Tottenham and Deke Castleman
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