Thursday, January 30, 2020
By Andrew Tottenham
Managing Director, Tottenham & Co

The contagion which started with action being taken against FOBT’s in the UK, then spread to Germany, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Italy, and Latvia, has now taken hold in Spain.

The UK has already announced a ban on the use of credit cards for online gambling and its government now proposes a full review of the 2005 Act. Among specific proposals is a complete prohibition of gambling advertising and sponsorship of sports teams by gambling companies. Some would like to see a review of stakes and prizes of both online and land-based slot machines. And most of these proposals enjoy the support of all major political parties.

By Hannah Gannagé-Stewart
CDC Gaming Reports

Recent weeks have seen Greece creep nearer to finalising a raft of regulatory reforms that will readmit online operators to the market, years after the 2012 clampdown in favour of the state monopoly OPAP.

The country’s apparent reticence to comply with EU laws for the bulk of the last decade has slowed progress in drawing up the new regulations, which the Greek Ministry of Finance finally submitted to the European Commission in early January. The regulations are now subject to a standstill period until 1 April. The 24 operators that were granted licences in 2011 are free to continue operating until 31 March 2020, after which they will be expected to reapply under the new regime.

The Euro News Revue
by Hannah Gannagé-Stewart and Andrew Tottenham
SBC News - 27 January 2020
Members of parliament within the UK’s All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Gambling Related Harm have criticised the Gambling Commission’s decision to allow GVC Holdings to lead the development of a code of conduct on high-value customers. SBC reports that APPG chair Carolyn Harris called the plan a “conflict of interest”, as well as flagging a recent £5.9m fine against GVC for AML and social responsibility failings. While Harris may have a point, Conservative party MP Sir Iain Duncan Smith’s take was a little extreme. Dubbing the move “bizarre”, he called for reform of the GC, adding: “It’s like putting the mafia in charge of looking into organised crime”. It would seem slightly more bizarre to exclude the industry from a process that aims to improve its operating procedures. (HGS)
iGaming Business - 27 January 2020
A member of the Bulgarian National Front for Salvation Party, Valeri Simenov, has introduced a bill proposing a ban on private lotteries in the country, restricting their operation to the Bulgarian Sports Totalizator (BST). Bulgaria liberalised its gambling laws in 2012 to enable online gambling; if the new bill becomes law, raffle, bingo, and keno games would still be allowed to be organised privately. But for lottery games, all licences for private operators would be terminated three months after the bill is passed, and private operators would then not be allowed in the market. According to iGaming Business, the bill has also been sponsored by several members of the nationalist electoral alliance United Patriots.  (HGS)
YLE - 27 January 2020
Company executives should realise that in today’s connected world you can’t keep something buried forever. Sooner or later it will come out, and if it was intentionally buried, it will look like a cover up. Viekkaus, Finland’s state gambling monopoly, has now been accused of flouting competition law. In 2018, the company signed a “modification” of an existing agreement with IGT regarding IGT’s system for running sports betting and lotteries. The modification extended the existing agreement with IGT by a further 20 years. By defining the modification as an eight-year agreement with the right to extend the agreement for three more periods of four years each, Viekkaus executives believed they could sidestep public procurement processes and avoid a public tender. But if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it’s probably …. (AT)
iGaming Business - 24 January 2020
The European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA), despite welcoming Germany’s liberalisation of online casino and sports betting as part the revised State Treaty, has raised concerns over low levels of channelisation in Germany - only a very small percent of gambling now takes place in a regulated environment. The EGBA also voiced concerns around Germany’s plans to restrict live betting to exclude certain in-play bets, limit advertising hours, and place short blocks on player accounts when they switch between operators.

The German Sports Betting Association broadly echoed the EGBA’s sentiments, while Germany’s state lottery operator Deutscher Lotto- und Totoblock has switched tack, lending support to the online casino reforms and instead fighting to block the entry of alternative lottery operators. The new regulations will replace the existing State Treaty on 1 July 2021 if passed at a meeting of the Minister-Presidents on 5 March. (HGS)
iGaming Business - 24 January 2020
The Netherlands’ highest administrative court, the Council of State, has ruled in favour of the country’s gambling regulator, Kansspelautoriteit (KSA), after KSA argued that publishing articles promoting games banned in the country was tantamount to advertising. The Council of State ruled that promotional text is in fact advertising and is not allowed under current laws. The decision backs up a ruling made by the District Court of The Hague in February 2019. The case originally related to articles published by a content arm of Betsson, which linked through to games of chance that were illegal in the country. Betsson had, somewhat spuriously, claimed that the articles were primarily produced to inform, not to advertise.  (HGS)
iNTERGAME - 24 January 2020
Ukraine, a country that has been in the news recently, has taken the first step to legalise casinos and online gambling since all gambling was closed down over a decade ago - a bill in parliament passed in its first reading. The cost of a license for a land-based casino, which will have to be in a hotel of more than 200 rooms, would be a minimum of the equivalent of US$1.7 million, increasing to $2.6 million for a hotel with more than 251 rooms. But, strangely, a license for an online casino would only cost $280,000. Unless the tax rates for these two options are remarkably different, I know which one I would choose. (AT)
Gambling Insider - 23 January 2020
Digital Isle of Man CEO Lyle Wraxall has cautioned operators not to be fooled by the “hype” over blockchain technologies, while admitting they are on the rise in the industry. Digital Isle of Man, which oversees the digital sector on that small island, opened its own blockchain office last year. The Isle of Man has led in this area, licensing blockchain casino FunFair and RoBet, the first blockchain-based sportsbook. However, Wraxall told Gambling Insider last week: “While there are cases where blockchain can be a really good technology to use, there are more cases where it’s terrible to use and being used for the wrong reasons”. (HGS)
BBC News - 23 January 2020
Contrary to its usual approach to gambling, the BBC has published a straightforward, unbiased article by two London academics that tries to clarify why some people may become addicted to gambling. The article explains that for problem gamblers and those with an addiction, the reward systems for “liking” something and “wanting” something are likely rewired. (AT)
This report is edited by Andrew Tottenham and Justin Martin
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