Category Archive: Europe

Spain: Two months left to apply for online gambling licenses

 

Authors: Elisa Lorenzo / Paula Gonzalez de Castejón

 

As announced in our previous entry in this blog, on December 2017 a resolution launching the call for tender for obtaining new general licenses for exploiting gambling activities in Spain was published on the Spanish Official Gazette. This means that the Spanish online gambling market opened to new entrants.

Nonetheless, the Spanish market will close shortly, as the deadline for submitting the corresponding applications will be 17 December 2018, and it is still uncertain when a new call for tender – allowing interested operators to enter into the Spanish market – will be launched. During this application process, the Spanish gambling regulator (the Spanish General Directorate for Gambling Affairs, the “DGOJ”) has published the gambling data for the year 2017. The figures, available here show once again that the Spanish market is a highly attractive market, which still offers relevant opportunities to operators interested in entering into this market. Those figures reveal that the total amounts bet by participants in 2017 have exceeded €2,000 million, and that, in terms of Gross Gaming Revenue, the Spanish gambling sector has increased in €560 million during 2017, which implies a 30.9% of increase from 2016.

Not only the Spanish gambling market has increased in terms of participation and GGR, it has also evolved significantly from a regulatory perspective since 2011. The Spanish gambling regulations have been amended by the Spanish regulator in the last years to permit licensed operators offering new game variants. Within 2018 it is expected that new regulations will be approved. Those new regulations will cover both the introduction of new modalities for existing games as well as of brand new games.

Therefore, it seems to be a suitable moment to think about entering into the Spanish market.

We will keep you updated on new regulatory developments in the Spanish Gambling Sector.

SWEDEN: The Swedish administrative court of appeal (Sw. Kammarrätten) upholds decision to impose fines against Swedish evening papers for providing links to offshore gambling services.

In September 2013, the Swedish Gambling Authority (Sw. Lotteriinspektionen) issued an injunction under a penalty of a fine of SEK 45 000 per day against the evening papers Expressen och Aftonbladet for publishing links to offshore operated gambling services.

The papers appealed the decision arguing that the Swedish Gambling Authority’s decision was in violation of Swedish Fundamental Law on Freedom of Expression (Sw. yttrandefrihetsgrundlagen) and that the prohibition against promotion of offshore gambling services was incompatible with EU law.

The Swedish administrative court of appeal concluded that gambling advertisements are of commercial nature and, as such, not protected by the Swedish Fundamental Law on Freedom of Expression. Furthermore, the court did not assess that the prohibition against promotion of offshore gambling services is incompatible with EU law. As such, the Swedish administrative court rejected the appeal and upheld the Swedish Gambling Authority’s decision to issue the injunction.

While the new Swedish gambling act enters into force on 1 January 2019 and the new license applications are currently being processed by the Swedish Gambling Authority, we expect the papers to appeal the decision to the Swedish Supreme Administrative Court.

If you have any questions regarding the decision or the new Swedish gambling legislation, please contact Christopher Büller (christopher.buller@dlapiper.com) or Jessica Lorne (jessica.lorne@dlapiper.com) at DLA Piper Sweden.

Changes to UK gambling licence conditions and codes of practice

After having considered all the responses to the consultation on changes to the UK gambling licence conditions and codes of practice (hereinafter “LCCP“), the UK Gambling Commission has taken the decision to strengthen requirements on licensees in key areas.

Read the rest of this entry »

ITALY: Gambling advertising ban adopted, what to do now?

The law decree providing for the Italian gambling advertising ban was adopted, but a number of questions opened up as to its scope and legality. Read the rest of this entry »

Top 5 gaming predictions for 2018!

Gaming operators, suppliers and regulations have been rapidly changing in 2017, but what shall we expect for 2018 and how to get ready to it? Read the rest of this entry »

DLA Piper Gaming event before the ICE. Come and join us!

DLA Piper gambling event will take place the day before the beginning of the ICE gaming conference in London.  Read the rest of this entry »

Sweden: Legislative proposal sent to Council on Legislation for review

The Swedish Government proposed a new Swedish gambling act based on the proposal made by the government-appointed investigator in March 2017, and sent the proposal to the Council on Legislation (Sw. Lagrådet) for review.

In essence, the Council on Legislation will review whether or not the proposed gambling act is contrary to any existing legislative act before the proposal is handed over to the Swedish parliament for approval.

More information (in Swedish) can be found on http://www.regeringen.se/rattsdokument/lagradsremiss/2018/01/en-omreglerad-spelmarknad/.

If you have any questions, please contact Christopher Büller, christopher.buller@dlapiper.com, at DLA Piper in Sweden.

Belgian Court rules on offering different classes of games through a single web domain

On 9 November 2017, the Belgian Constitutional Court ruled, in response to three joined cases referred to it by the Council of State1, that the Belgian Gaming Act violates the Constitution insofar as it allows the accumulation of the exploitation of several supplementary licences of different classes through one and the same domain name and the URLs linked to it. Patrick Van Eecke and Kaat Scheerlinck of DLA Piper provide detailed analysis of the three joined cases, the Court’s decision, and the implications of the decision for the Belgian Gaming Commission’s licensing process and the Belgian gambling sector in general.

Read full article (subscription)

Update: German Sports Betting Regulation

By Dr. Michael Stulz-Herrnstadt and Christoph Engelmann

The state parliament of Schleswig-Holstein announced that it will not approve the new State Treaty on Gambling. They want to push for an entire new law that includes licenses for online casinos as mentioned in their coalition agreement.

In addition the administration of North Rhine-Westphalia announced that it will not ratify the new law and that it stopped the implementation of the new responsibilities (the new law provides that North Rhine-Westphalia takes over the sports betting regulation from Hesse).

The consequence of this situation is that the new State Treaty will not enter into force on 1 January 2018 as planned. This is because the law provides that it will be invalid if it is not ratified by all 16 German states until 31 December 2017.

Until the German states find an agreement for a new law the current regulatory situation remains. Sports betting will be tolerated for EU-licensed operators as long as they comply with material regulatory requirements like advertising restrictions and AML obligations. This is now confirmed by several higher administrative courts like the ones of North Rhine-Westphalia, Saarland and Hesse.

Dr. Michael Stulz-Herrnstadt and Christoph Engelmann recently commented on the decision of the higher administrative court of Hesse in the German magazine “GRUR-Prax” 2017 p. 387; the article can be viewed here (in German, subscription based). Dr. Michael Stulz-Herrnstadt was also interviewed about the Schleswig-Holstein situation by the magazine “Online Gambling Lawyer“.

How the EU Privacy Regulation impacts Gaming Affiliates

The EU Privacy Regulation will oblige gaming affiliates to comply with stringent requirements in the processing of personal data of players.  Read the rest of this entry »

Update on the new AML Act in Germany

By Dr. Michael Stulz-Herrnstadt and Christoph Engelmann

The new German Anti Money Laundering (AML) Act entered into force on 26 June 2017 after it has been published in the Federal Law Gazette.

The new AML Act brings three important changes for gambling companies:

  • Extension of the scope from online to offline gambling and from licensed to unlicensed gambling
  • Revised AML measures in detail
  • Extended catalogue of administrative offenses with higher administrative fines (up to 1 million Euro)

For more information on the new AML Act we published a client alert for gambling companies that are offering their services in Germany. In addition we wrote an article in the German newspaper FAZ covering the main impacts on gambling companies.

New licenses for online casinos in Germany?

By Dr. Michael Stulz-Herrnstadt and Christoph Engelmann

After the elections in the German state Schleswig-Holstein the Christian Democrats, Free Democrats and Greens plan on a new gambling law in their coalition negotiations.

The Greens mention on their website that the coalition does not want to implement the new State Treaty on Gambling into their state law. Instead they plan on resigning from the State Treaty and on passing a new gambling law together with the states North Rhine-Westphalia, Rhineland-Palatinate and Hesse. The new gambling law is supposed to be based on the 2012 Schleswig-Holstein gambling law. Other than the State Treaty on Gambling it intends to offer (new) licenses not online for sports betting but also for online casinos including poker games.

State revenues will be used for prevention of gambling addiction, consumer protection, grassroots sport and common public interest. Brick-and-mortar casinos will be sold neutral in terms of effect on competition after the online licenses have been issued.

This is a very exciting development for operators that are looking into the German market. After the new State Treaty on Gambling has been criticized in recent court decisions it now looks like at least a few states might rethink their current gambling policies.

E-Sport will finally be recognised as a sport in Poland

Rafał Burda and Wojciech Biegański

On 14 March 2017, the Council of Ministers adopted a draft law amending the Act of 25 June 2010 on Sport (accessible here). The draft is currently subject to its first reading in parliament. The draft introduces an extension to the existing definition of sport, supplementing the solely physical activity expressed thus far in the sports law with “competition based on intellectual activity aimed at achieving a sports result”. This extension is aimed at achieving two main goals: (i) to officially recognise sporting disciplines like checkers, chess or sports bridge as sports competitions; and (ii) to bring e-sport competitions under the jurisdiction of sports law, due to the fact that such intellectual activity is widely regarded as having similar social effects to physical activity. Given the fact that e-sport is expected to expand its global fan-base to around 345 million by 2019, this change in the law seems absolutely necessary. As of 1 April 2017, accepting bets on virtual events (including e-sport) is expressly allowed under the Polish Gambling Act.

New AML Act for Germany – impact on gambling operators

By Dr. Michael Stulz-Herrnstadt and Christoph Engelmann

The financial committee of the Federal Parliament agreed on amendments to the new German Anti Money Laundering (AML) Act (Geldwäschegesetz, GwG) yesterday. The new law will bring important changes for gambling operators.

While the scope of the new AML Act will be extended from online gambling to also offline gambling operators, there are some gambling products (e.g. social lotteries, slot machines) that might benefit from new exceptions because of their low money laundering risk. Other gambling operators (e.g. sports betting shops) might be faced with new challenges like restrictions in payment methods and new administrative offenses with administrative fines of up to 1 million Euro.

To implement the 4th AML directive the new law has to enter into force by 26 June 2017. Prior to this the Federal Parliament and the Federal Assembly are expected to agree to the proposed changes. We will keep you updated on the developments.

Update (19 May 2017): The Federal Parliament adopted the changes on 18 May 2017.

Global: Prize Promotions around the world

DLA Piper is pleased to announce the launch of Prize Promotions Around the World, an updated version of our previous prize promotions handbook.

Prize Promotions Around the World is an online tool designed to assist our clients across the globe with the management of the early development stages of a prize promotion (such as a sweepstake or skill-based contest), and to bring to their attention potentially problematic issues.

Key features include:

  • Additional jurisdictions, now with over 35 countries
  • Expansion of topics, including rules on judging and sanctions
  • Interactive map, highlighting the range of risk profiles in different jurisdictions

Access Prize Promotions Around the World here

Sweden: Proposal for the introduction of a licensing system

Today, the investigator appointed by the Swedish Government, Mr. Håkan Hallstedt, handed over his proposal (1,340 pages) for the introduction of a Swedish licensing system to the Swedish Minister for Public Administration, Mr. Ardalan Shekarabi.

Read the rest of this entry »

eSports YouTube star and business partner prosecuted for operating and promoting an unlicensed gambling website

By Greg Mason

On 6 February 2017, in the first successful prosecution of its kind by the GB Gambling Commission, Craig Douglas (33) and Dylan Rigby (34) pleaded guilty to offences under the Gambling Act 2005 relating to unlicensed eSports gambling.

Douglas, a prominent eSports YouTuber known as “NepentheZ”, was fined £91,000 for advertising unlawful gambling and inviting children to gamble. His business partner, Rigby, was ordered to pay £174,000 in fines and costs for offences relating to the provision of facilities for gambling and the advertising of unlawful gambling.

The pair admitted to being directors of Game Gold Tradings Limited which operated and advertised the unlicensed gambling website FutGalaxy.com.

FutGalaxy.com, which has no official connection with the FIFA series of games or EA Sports, allowed customers to buy virtual currency known as “FUT coins”. These FUT coins could then be used to gamble (on products including sports betting, a jackpot lottery style game and a higher or lower style game) and could even be converted into FIFA coins which could be sold for real money via an unauthorised secondary market.

In this case, the lack of child protection was particularly concerning. The District Judge, DJ McGarva, labelled the offences as “very grave” given that there were no restrictions on young persons from accessing the website and placing bets. Sarah Harrison, CEO of the GB Gambling Commission, noted that “the defendants knew that the site was used by children and that their conduct was illegal but they turned a blind eye in order to achieve substantial profits. The effect on children of online gambling was rightly described by the Court as ‘horrific’ and ‘serious’“.

Given the gravity and nature of offending, it is perhaps surprising that the Court did not impose a custodial sentence and instead opted for a relatively small financial penalty. Previous voluntary settlements with the GB Gambling Commission relating to failures in AML compliance and social responsibility controls resulted in significant financial penalties.

With eSports and eSports gambling becoming a growing global trend, it is attracting greater attention from regulators. The GB Gambling Commission is currently undertaking a discussion paper on emerging products in the gambling market, including betting on eSports events. The GB Gambling Commission’s current guidance states that “betting on eSports should be treated no differently as betting on any other live event… if you wish to offer bets to GB consumers on eSports events then you will need a betting licence. The types of betting offered and how you offer them will determine the licence required.

For further information from the GB Gambling Commission in relation to eSports, please visit: http://www.gamblingcommission.gov.uk/for-gambling-businesses/Compliance/Sector-specific-compliance/Betting/e-Sports.aspx.

Sports betting does not require a German gambling license in North Rhine-Westphalia at the moment

By Dr. Michael Stulz-Herrnstadt and Christoph Engelmann

The Higher Administrative Court of North Rhine-Westphalia (OVG NRW) ruled in a recent decision that sports betting intermediation by an EU-licensed provider does not require a(n additional) German gambling license in North Rhine-Westphalia at the moment. With this decision the court takes a very liberal stance. Yet, this is consistent with last year’s decisions by the ECJ and the German Federal Administrative Court (BVerwG). As a result the operation of sports betting in North Rhine-Westphalia on the basis of an EU-license (and without a German license) cannot be prosecuted as a criminal offense and it cannot be subject to an administrative prohibition.

The decision is anticipated by other EU-licensed sports betting operators that are now able to offer their services at least in the German state North Rhine-Westphalia until the new State Treaty on Gambling enters into force in 2018 when a new sports betting licensing procedure is expected to start. Although the decision is limited to only one of the 16 German states (i.e. North Rhine-Westphalia) it would be consistent to apply it to the other German states, too.

Update: Dr. Michael Stulz-Herrnstadt and Christoph Engelmann commented on the decision of the OVG NRW in the German magazine “GRUR-Prax” 2017 p. 132. The article can be viewed here (in German, subscription based).

Data Protection Day 2017!

At DLA Piper we pride ourselves in providing the insights, tools and know how you need to plan ahead and manage change in a privacy landscape that is constantly evolving. With publication of the final text of the EU General Data Protection Regulation in April 2016, many organisations are now actively looking ahead to a challenging timetable to secure GDPR readiness, ahead of May 2018.

International Data Protection Day provides an opportunity to reflect on where we see organisations are in terms of managing privacy to an appropriate standard of protection, and share some of the materials and learning we have created to help those on the compliance journey navigate the road ahead.

Data Protection Laws of the World

We are pleased to launch the 2017 edition of our newly designed Data Protection Laws of the World, which now covers over 95 jurisdictions. This highly regarded complimentary go-to guide offers a high-level snapshot of selected aspects of data protection laws across the globe, in an easily accessible online format.

Access the handbook

Data Privacy Snapshot

Over 250 organisations have completed our Data Privacy Scorebox to assess current levels of privacy compliance in their respective business operations. Our inaugural Global Data Privacy Snapshot draws on data from the scorebox assessments to provide a perspective on current maturity levels in levels of compliance across the market. The report pays particular focus on maturity levels in the Financial Services, Life Sciences and Healthcare, and Technology and Telecoms sectors, with an overall finding that suggests most organisations have a lot of work on their plate to achieve the levels of compliance they need.

This report will be launching soon.

Data Privacy Scorebox

Launched in 2016, this online tool will help you assess your organisation’s data protection maturity level. Complete a survey covering areas such as storage of data, use of data, and customers’ rights to generate a report that shows your organisation’s maturity levels against 12 key areas of privacy compliance. The report includes a practical action point check list and peer benchmarking data.

Access the scorebox.

Privacy Matters Blog

Our Privacy Matters blog is where you will find the latest updates (often within hours) from our global privacy team on all matters related to data protection, privacy and security. Subscribe with your email address on the home page to receive a message whenever a new post is made.

Access the blog.

Want to know more about the EU Data Protection Regulation? 

We maintain a dedicated GDPR microsite, where you can find lots of useful information to help you learn about the EU Data Protection Regulation – what it covers, the impact it is likely to have on organisations across different sectors, actions to take now to prepare, as well as regular updates and information on our webinars and events.

You will also find our summary Guide to the GDPR which many organisations find a helpful quick guide to the key requirements of the GDPR.

Access the microsite.

COMING SOON: EU GDPR App

We are soon to launch an EU GDPR App which gives easy access to the Regulation text. Available for download on iOS and Android, the App will provide a handy guide to the GDPR so you can quickly access Articles, link to relevant Recitals and make comparisons back to the Directive. The App will be available in 13 different languages.

For more information on any of these tools or to contact us, please email dataprivacy@dlapiper.com.

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 »

Older posts «