Top 5 gaming predictions for 2017

It was a very interesting year for the gaming market that is setting very high expectations for 2017 and here are my predictions. What are yours?  Read the rest of this entry »

Amendment to Polish Gambling Act adopted

Last Thursday (Sejm) and Friday (Senat), an amendment to the Polish Gambling Act was adopted. Once signed by the Polish president and published, it will come into force on 1 April 2017. Its official aim is to increase the protection of players against risks related to excessive gambling and to decrease the unlicensed market. However, it extends the number of games permitted in Poland and includes a couple of revolutionary changes: Read the rest of this entry »

Casinos Given Green Light in Japan

On December 15th 2016, the National Diet officially opened Japan’s doors to Casino gambling by passing the ‘Integrated Resort Promotion Act’, which lays the groundwork for the legalization of Casinos in Japan. If the process continues smoothly, casinos will be operating in Japan after the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Current Status of Gambling Regulations in Japan

Gambling has generally been prohibited in Japan subject to several exceptions including government-managed sports betting on horseracing, speedboat racing, bicycle racing and motorcycle racing as well as government-sanctioned lotteries. Pachinko, which resembles a mix between pinball and slot machine games, has traditionally been the most popular form of gambling in Japan although it has operated in a legal grey area as it is not specifically recognized as a legal form of gambling.

In order to change Japanese attitudes towards Casino gambling, a group of lawmakers called the Lawmaker Alliance for the Promotion of Integrated Resorts first prepared a draft bill to promote the introduction of casino-integrated resorts in 2011, but it did not receive popular support. However, after Tokyo was awarded the 2020 Olympic/Paralympic Game, the bill gained momentum and has received new life as Komeito (one of the coalition parties of the ruling LDP) has reversed its position regarding Casino gambling. This shift has paved the way for passage in the National Diet, provided that additional measures are implemented to limit the number of integrated resorts and reduce gambling addiction in Japan.

Brief Overview of the Bill

The Integrated Resort Promotion Act provides preliminary guidance for the development of implementing legislation and basic framework for the Casino industry in Japan. Notably, the Act specifies that Casinos will be limited to certain geographic areas as selected by the government to promote tourism, contribute to local economies, and establish Japan as a premier sightseeing destination.

In addition to the requirement for implementing legislation, the Act establishes a new governmental organization named the Casino Control Committee to grant Casino licenses and provide regulatory oversight for the Casino industry in Japan. The Committee will set regulations on gaming machines, systems, and tools manufactured and imported for use in the Casinos and otherwise monitor compliance.

Looking Ahead

The Act does not provide any specific requirements for licensing and a more detailed regulatory regime will be provided in another law, which must be enacted by next year. It should further be noted that the Integrated Resorts Promotion Act only legalizes licensed private onshore casinos and will not legalize other forms of gambling such as Pachinko and online casinos. With the expected opening of Japan’s casinos shortly after 2020, Japan is well positioned to sustain the economic momentum and tourism influx that will be generated by the Olympics.

BAGO – A new Belgian gaming sector initiative

Last Friday (on 25 November 2016), DLA Piper Belgium attended a colloquium of BAGO, the Belgian Association of Gaming Operators. BAGO is a new sector initiative composed of various gaming operators licensed under Belgium’s regulatory framework.

During the event, attended by several of the sector’s stakeholders, BAGO called upon the Belgian regulator as well as the legislator to create a legal and operational framework which allows for a diverse gaming offering, whilst respecting both customer protection considerations and economic viability of the sector which will become increasingly digitized.

BAGO intends to offer better insight in the Belgian gaming market by supporting studies and market research and equally drives self-regulation by proposing a gaming advertising code.

Should you have any further questions, please contact Antoon.dierick@dlapiper.com or Patrick.Vaneecke@dlapiper.com

The Netherlands: new enforcement strategy against illegal remote gambling

The Dutch Games of Chance Authority (Kansspelautoriteit, “KSA”) announced a revision of its enforcement strategy in combatting illegal online gambling. This new strategy kicks off as per 1 January 2017.

Key change is that the KSA will no longer warn individual operators offering online gambling to Dutch players prior to actually taking enforcement measures. To date, the KSA issued warning letters to operators that meet one or more of the prioritization criteria (.nl website, Dutch language, advertisements) first, giving them the chance to modify their gambling operations and cease targeting the Dutch market. In case the warning was neglected, sanctions followed.

As from 1 January 2017, operators that fall under one or more of KSA’s prioritization criteria will no longer receive a warning: illegal online operators are immediately exposed to serious enforcement measures. Such measures may involve fines of up to EUR 820,000 or 10% of the operator’s turnover. The KSA declared that operators that do not meet one or more of the prioritization criteria, but do offer online gambling to Dutch players, are not exempted from enforcement measures either. The operator may be confronted with KSA’s enforcement powers particularly when public interests are at stake.

Reason for the revision in KSA’s enforcement policy is that KSA holds the opinion that by now, it should be generally known by operators that offering online gambling targeted to the Netherlands without a license is illegal.

Until 31 December 2016, operators have the opportunity to amend their current practice in a way that their gambling offer is no longer available to Dutch players and that they do no longer fall under the prioritization criteria. To that end, the KSA recommends operators to take care of an IP-country blockade or other measure that makes online gambling unavailable to Dutch players.

It is expected that the online gambling market in the Netherlands will be open as from early 2018.

The Netherlands: totalizator licensing procedure now open to applicants – deadline December 30

By Richard van Schaik and Róbin de Wit

The first phase of the totalizator licensing procedure for the years 2017-2022 is open now and ends December 30, 2016. Yesterday, the Dutch games of chance authority (Kansspelautoriteit, “KSA”) revealed further details around the two-phased application procedure.

Phase 1

In the first phase, parties can show their interest by downloading and filling out online forms supported by necessary appendixes (e.g. recent certified extract from the Commercial Register and statement of good conduct). Further licensing criteria are defined in the downloadable application form.

Interested parties can be admitted to the official licensing procedure until December 30, 2016, 23:59. This is the closing deadline of phase 1.

Phase 2

The second phase of the licensing procedure will start mid-January 2017. During this phase, parties selected by the KSA during the first phase will be invited to present how they will implement and execute the totalizator license. Specific details as to the criteria are yet unknown. Eventually, the KSA will grant a license to one operator that will be allowed to offer horse and harness racing bets in the Netherlands.

Further details around the second phase will be revealed prior to its commencement early 2017.

Further information about the licensing procedure and any criteria connected thereto will be published on this blog as soon as it becomes available.

Please read our previous blog regarding the totalizator licensing procedure here.

Autumn Budget – Gambling Taxes

Freeplays

The Government has confirmed it will go ahead and bring the remote gaming duty treatment of freeplays in line with the less generous treatment of free bets under general betting duty. This will take effect for accounting periods commencing on or after 1 August 2017 as previously announced.  We expect to see the responses to HMRC’s consultation on freeplays and the draft legislation on 5th December 2016.

Use and enjoyment VAT charge for advertising services

There is still no news on whether the UK is going ahead to impose VAT, under an extension to the effective use and enjoyment rule, on B2B advertising and marketing (including affiliate marketing) services which are supplied to non-EU established businesses.  The UK had announced it was intending to do this, once it had imposed VAT on insurance repair services carried out in the UK, which has been done.  With Brexit preparations ongoing, the extension of the use and enjoyment rule to advertising services may now be on the back-burner.

Avoidance Disclosure Regime to include gambling duties

In a bid to strengthen the tax avoidance disclosure regimes for indirect taxes, the government intends to extend the scope of the VAT Avoidance Disclosure Regime to cover all indirect taxes, including gambling duties.  Provisions will also be made to move the primary obligation to disclose avoidance schemes from users to promoters.  These changes will have effect from 1 September 2017.

For further information please contact Richard Woolich, UK Head of Tax.

The Netherlands – First charity lottery license granted

by Richard van Schaik and Róbin de Wit

Yesterday, the Dutch Gaming Authority (“KSA”) granted for the first time a license since the Amsterdam District Court forced the KSA to revise its current policy on lottery licensing and to open the market to new licensees. Lottovate Nederland B.V. has been granted a license, according to which 50% of the stake should be made available to charity.

Earlier this year, Lottovate successfully challenged the strict Dutch lottery licensing system, according to which only four licenses for so called charitable lotteries were granted up and until 31 December 2016 (see our blog about this case here). A license was denied to Lottavate when it initialy applied for it. However, Lottovate stated that the Dutch policy limits the freedom to provide services under the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. The Amsterdam District Court decided that KSA should have taken this account. As a result of this court case, KSA set policy rules, enabling operators to apply for a charity lottery license.

Lottovate’s license has now been granted for the period 22 November 2016 until 31 December 2016. On 31 December 2016 all existing charity lotteries licenses expire. Operators can already apply for licenses starting 1 January 2017. Guidelines about the requirements for a charity lottery license can be found here.

 

 

 

Unlawful prohibition of sports betting in Germany

The Federal Administrative Court of Germany (BVerwG) ruled in a recent decision that if the state monopoly for sports betting persists an administrative prohibition of sports betting without a German sports betting concession would be unlawful.

This decision ties in with a recent decision of the European Court of Justice (ECJ). There the ECJ ruled that a criminal prosecution of a sports betting intermediate is contrary to EU law if the licensing process for private sports betting organizers has been held to not conform with EU law by national courts.

Dr. Michael Stulz-Herrnstadt and Christoph Engelmann commented on the decision of the BVerwG in the German magazine “GRUR-Prax” 2016 p. 542. The article can be viewed here (in German, subscription based).

Polish Regulator publishes a new report on the gambling market in 2015

The Polish Regulator has published a new report on the implementation of the Polish Gambling Act in 2015. The report presents interesting statistical data and summarizes the most important court judgements.

The Polish version can be downloaded from the Regulator’s website: link.

The Netherlands: regulator reveals totalizator licensing procedure

By Richard van Schaik and Róbin de Wit

 

Today’s news issued by the Dutch games of chance authority (Kansspelautoriteit, “KSA”) marked the kickoff of a phased totalizator licensing procedure. The KSA announced a transparent process in which a single license for horse and harness racing bets will be granted to a new license holder in the period 2017 to 2022.

On November 29, the KSA will officially publish the licensing procedure and further information in that regard on its website. From the information currently available, it appears that the procedure will consist of two phases.

Phase 1

During the first phase, subscribed parties will be judged by the KSA on the basis of pre-defined criteria to assess whether they are suitable to provide a reliable totalizator. Those parties who expressed their interest to offer horse and harness racing bets and who submitted the required information in time, will be assessed by the KSA on the basis of so-called knock-out criteria.

Phase 2

Subsequently, the parties selected by the KSA will be invited to present how they will implement and execute the totalizator license. Again, parties will be judged by the KSA on the basis of pre-defined criteria, after which one licensee will be chosed.

Subscribing to the procedure

Interested parties can be admitted to the official licensing procedure as from November 29 by downloading, completing and submitting the appropriate form, to be made available on KSA’s website. On that same day, the KSA will disclose the knock-out criteria that are of crucial importance during the first phase.

In order to be eligible for admission to the procedure, interested parties should at least hold the following documents:

  • A recent (< 6 months) digital certified extract from the Commercial Register of the interested party (or similar document from an EU / EEA country);
  • A recent (< 6 months) statement of good conduct (verklaring omtrent gedrag) for legal entities (or similar document from an EU / EEA country). Dutch entities can request such statement here.

Further information about the licensing procedure and any criteria connected thereto will be published on this blog as soon as it becomes available.

New gambling law for Germany

By Dr. Michael Stulz-Herrnstadt and Christoph Engelmann

A few days after the prime minister conference decided on the amendment of the State Treaty on Gambling Germany has informed the EU commission about the proposed legislative changes.

The draft of the “Second State Treaty Amending the State Treaty on Gambling” provides for a few changes of the German gambling regulation that try to answer criticism by the European Court of Justice. Sports betting concessions will not be issued on a quantitative but on a qualitative basis in the future. This includes lifting the limit of 20 sports betting concessions and even issuing preliminary concessions for the 35 operators that have been found to meet the requirements for a concession and that are listed in the draft. In addition the German state of Hesse will hand over its competence to issue the sports betting concessions to another German state.

Unfortunately the German states decided to leave it at these minimal changes. They are looking into strengthening the enforcement against unlicensed gambling and into amending the regulation of online casinos. But the draft does not included changes in this regard and it does not address the criticism of the Council of Games of Chance (Gluecksspielkollegium) and the advertising guidelines (Werberichtlinie).

The standstill period of the EU notification procedure lasts until February 2017. The German states aim at a ratification of the new law until 31 December 2017. This means that the amended State Treaty on Gambling will not enter into force before 1 January 2018 and that the interim measure of getting orders of approval for sports betting will become more relevant until the concession procedure is realigned by the new State Treaty.

How sharing liquidity will change the gaming market?

The debate on sharing liquidity in the online gaming market seems to finally move ahead, but what is the right approach? Read the rest of this entry »

Prime minister conference: amendment of the German State Treaty on Gambling

By Dr. Michael Stulz-Herrnstadt and Christoph Engelmann

Last week the German prime ministers reached an agreement on the amendment of the German State Treaty on Gambling (GlueStV). They decided to cancel the limitation of concessions for sports betting. With the 2012 GlueStV the German states wanted to allow up to 20 licenses for private sports betting operators. However, none of the licenses has been issued. This led to criticism by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) and court decisions that even ordered the gambling authorities to issue sports betting licenses for operators. In the future the concessions shall not be limited to the amount of 20 but be assigned on the basis of minimum standards.

In addition to this the prime ministers ask the gambling authorities to consider the possibilities of improving the enforcement against illegal online gambling (especially unlicensed lotteries, sports betting and online casino games) possibly by founding a public-law institution with centralized responsibility. While evaluating the GlueStV the authorities shall also consider the simplification of identification and authentication of players and the substitution of the monthly stake-limit of 1.000 Euro with a loss-limit in the same amount. At last the prime ministers ask the gambling authorities to examine which regulatory measures could improve the regulation of online casinos considering the experience in other European countries. This decision hints in the direction that even licensing of online casinos might be possible in the future.

However, this is just the first decision of the prime ministers. After the criticism by the ECJ a new gambling regulation is needed in Germany and this decision of the prime ministers will hopefully lead to an amendment of the GlueStV in the near future. While the prime ministers of the 16 German states are discussing those amendments the authorities are working on a process to align the sports betting regulation with EU law. They reached an agreement to give out orders of approval for sports betting operators in the meantime. These orders allow (online) sports betting in Germany if certain requirements are met. However, the operator needs an order of approval in every single German state and not every state has an approval process in place.

How should the Polish Gambling Games Act be amended?

In connection with on-going work on the amendment of the Polish Gambling Games Act (the “Act”), numerous press articles have been published, presenting the planned amendments and assessing their impact. Meanwhile, it is worth analysing which provisions of the present Act, not necessarily those covered by the draft amendment, should be changed in order to achieve postulated market opening or extension of the catalogue of gambling games that are licensed in Poland. There is no doubt that only such opening and the consequent extension of the scope of licensed gambling, especially – the group of entities entitled under relevant concessions or licenses to provide online gambling services, can guarantee meeting the primary objectives of user protection, ring-fencing the market and reducing the grey market. Read the rest of this entry »

The Netherlands: gambling apps successfully banned

By Richard van Schaik and Róbin de Wit

Following its announcement that gambling apps would be taken under investigations, the Dutch Gaming Authority (Kansspelautoriteit, “KSA”) now succeeded to remove these apps from online stores.

The KSA took action against gambling apps with cash deposit and payments, the so-called “real money gambling apps”. In total, 55 of such apps were identified by KSA and can no longer be downloaded from Dutch accounts. Nonetheless, some gambling apps that were previously downloaded by Dutch users can still be used. The KSA declared that such use will be further monitored over the coming period.

Although the action against gambling apps was supposed to be a temporary task, the KSA announced that the monitoring of gambling apps is now a standard task of the KSA as part of its supervisory activities.

Italy: Corporate Criminal Liability for Gaming Operators

The potential corporate criminal liability of gaming operators/suppliers is a hot topic at the moment in Italy for both Italian and foreign gambling entities. Read the rest of this entry »

Italy – The € 500m contribution still in a limbo

The never ending story around the € 500 million contribution paid by Italian AWP and VLT licensees in 2015 has not reached an end yet. Read the rest of this entry »

Hungary: New enforcement powers approved to combat illegal gambling

The Hungarian parliament yesterday adopted legislative amendments which provide for more severe penalties and enforcement measures to tackle unlicensed online gambling. Read the rest of this entry »

When eSports is social gaming, gambling or prize promotion?

eSports is facing a considerable growth, but its qualification as gambling, social gaming or prize promotion is based on a detailed review of the features of the game.   Read the rest of this entry »

Older posts «

» Newer posts