Wednesday, February 19, 2020
By Andrew Tottenham
Managing Director, Tottenham & Co

MONEYVAL, or more formally the Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism, is the monitoring entity of the Council of Europe that assesses compliance with the main international standards to counter money laundering and the financing of terrorism. The Committee has issued a report based on its months-long visit to Cyprus.

The purpose of the visit was to evaluate how Cyprus is implementing the EU AML/CFT (Anti-Money Laundering and Combatting the Financing of Terrorism) requirements of Financial Action Task Force. In Europe, the Fifth Anti-Money Laundering Directive encapsulates the latest requirements. It is all very well signing up for and legislating/regulating for them, but if they are not being applied properly, there is not much point in having them.

By Willem van Oort
Founder, Gaming in Germany

Recently, the sixteen German federal states agreed in principle on a treaty that will allow country-wide online gambling – including poker and virtual slots – in the future. The news created a veritable buzz at the recent ICE trade show, resulting in much excitement as well as a packed meeting on the topic of German gambling regulation. Industry associations, such as EGBA and DSWV, responded in a somewhat more subdued manner, as several of the proposed restrictions in the new draft state treaty are expected to negatively impact the ability of licensed operators to compete with their black-market rivals. So what can the industry expect?

Before getting into the nitty-gritty of the new draft State Treaty on Gambling Regulation, let us first take a look at the proposed timeline for the implementation of the new regulatory provisions.

The Euro News Revue
by Hannah Gannagé-Stewart and Andrew Tottenham
iNTERGAME - 17 February 2020
UK retail-banking giant Lloyds Banking Group have signed an agreement with Gamban, a company that offers software that blocks consumer access to gambling sites. Finally, banks are taking their obligations seriously when it comes to online gambling. As chairman of industry group iGGBA, I remember trying to engage with the main banks in 2004 to get them to assist with age verification and blocking gambling transactions for those who requested it. At the time, their answer was that it was not their responsibility. I’m glad they have come to their senses. The current torrent of anti-gambling articles might have had something to do with it. (AT)
SBC News - 17 February 2020
Premier League Club Everton FC ended its £7 million-per-year shirt-sponsorship agreement with SportPesa at the end of this season, two years prematurely. This follows the Football Association of Ireland ending its sponsorship agreement with the company early as well. SportPesa sponsored Everton FC not so much for the benefit of its UK-facing site, but for the visibility the sponsorship would give it in its main market, Kenya. SportPesa was the largest online and mobile sports betting operator in Kenya until it closed its Kenyan operations last year following a dispute with the Kenyan government over unpaid taxes. SportPesa was, according to the government, supposed to collect a tax on players’ winnings and pay it to the government, which SportPesa neglected to do. (AT)
iGaming Business - 17 February 2020
Åland Islands-based operator Paf has urged the industry to use mandatory deposit limits as a means of combatting gambling related harm. The operator has led the way in recent months by imposing loss limits of €25,000 on its platform, and recently undertook research with Stockholm University on offering voluntary deposit limits at different times in a player’s user journey. The university found 45% of customers set a deposit limit when prompted to do so during registration, while just 6.5% of those not promoted opted to set a limit. It concluded that voluntary limits do not do enough to curb losses among players. (HGS)
SBC News - 17 February 2020
Branschföreningen för Onlinespel (BOS), the Swedish trade association for online gambling, has urged the regulator, Spelinspektionen, to re-think new wagering restrictions on match events. Submitting evidence from gambling analyst H2 Capital, BOS argued that restricting bets on match events such as penalties and yellow cards could push punters to offshore operators, which do allow such bets. The regulator has been urged to place the onus on operators to collaborate with sports betting integrity organisations to prevent match-fixing instead. In contrast, Sweden’s former monopoly provider Svenska Spel has hit out against the amendment to the country’s gambling rules, arguing regulation should be tighter. (HGS)
iGaming Business - 17 February 2020
Svenska Spel has argued that Spelinspektionen’s proposed ban on betting on rule violations in sports would not actually curb match-fixing. Responding to the regulator’s consultation, which closed on 14 February, the chief executive of the former monopoly operator, Patrik Hofbauer said: “Games on corners and throw-ins are at least as easy to manipulate [as penalties and yellow cards], so the logic of this boundary is difficult to see.” He added: “Instead, we think that [betting on] all easily manipulated game events should be banned.” Svenska Spel also argued that all licensed operators should be required to report suspicious events to the regulator immediately. Currently Spelinspektionen requires them to do so just once a year. (HGS)
SBC News - 13 February 2020
German Sports Betting Association (DSWV) President Mathias Dahms has added his voice to growing calls for German legislators to drop restrictions on in-play and sports betting markets as part of the Fourth Interstate Treaty on Gambling. The restrictions include capping player deposits limits at €1000 per month and restricting in-play bets. Dahms said: “A rigid set of rules that cannot be changed in the next few years will neither help player protection nor will it push back the black market.” Looking ahead to the German marketing opening in July 2021, Dahms concerns echoed those put forward by BOS over similar restrictions in Sweden, namely that limiting the types of bets on offer will drive players to less scrupulous offshore providers. (HGS)
SBC News - 13 February 2020
The Lithuanian parliament, Vilnius Seimas, has passed a bill requiring all gambling adverts to display warnings of the potential for gambling-related harm. The new legislation becomes mandatory on 1 July 2020, and the country’s Gaming Control Authority will be responsible for determining what the warning should say. The bill’s proposer Mykolas Majauskas has emphasised that a proportional approach should be taken to implementing the rules, saying there was need to “jam poles into the spokes of the gaming market’s wheels”. For example, he said operators would not be expected to run warnings alongside shirt sponsorship branding. (HGS)
Ekathimerini - 30 January 2020
Two casinos in Greece have been temporarily closed for two months by the Hellenic Gaming Commission. The Rio Casino, owned by Theros International and located in Patras, owes over €25 million to EFKA, the Greek Social Security entity. The Alexandroupoli casino, also owned by Theros, owes €12.5 million and suffered the same fate. You may remember the Rio Casino closed in 2018 due to a dispute with its employees. The union representing the workers claimed they were owed more than €5 million in back pay.

The Greek economy has been improving in recent years. However, casino revenues have been stubbornly depressed. In 2008, before the full impact of the financial crisis, total GGR for the Greek casinos was €745 million; by 2011, that figure was €420 million and by 2018, it had shrunk to below €260 million, a drop of 65%. If that was not enough, last year in October, a smoking ban was imposed. Table game revenues were slightly impacted, but slot revenue dropped by 30%. Usually, mitigation measures taken by operators and a change in betting patterns by customers as they learn to accommodate smoking breaks bring revenue back to the same level as before after one or two years. Obviously, casinos that are on or over the edge of being loss-making can ill afford any drop in revenue for any length of time. (AT)
This report is edited by Andrew Tottenham and Justin Martin
Tottenham & Co
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