Category Archive: Europe

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.

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 »

UK: Tax treatment of freeplays

Following the March UK Budget announcement, HMRC has released a consultation paper on its proposal to impose remote gaming duty on freeplays, to bring the RGD rules into line with the GBD rules.

The proposal is that freeplays (as widely defined) are, when used, attributed a value for RGD purposes and only cash prizes resulting from freeplays, are deductible. Freeplays given as a prize, and vouchers exchanged for a freeplay, will not be deductible. The consultation paper also confirms that operators cannot even now deduct freeplays given as incentives rather than winnings.

Closing date for comments on the consultation is 17th October 2016 . There is no comment on when the changes are due to become law but the original proposal was 1st August 2017.

View the consultation paper.

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

How Brexit might impact gambling in Germany

By Dr. Michael Stulz-Herrnstadt and Christoph Engelmann

The UK’s vote to leave the European Union in a so-called Brexit Referendum might also impact companies that provide gambling services in Germany.

Three of the main consequences of Brexit for gambling companies might be:

  1. Companies applying for a German gambling license need a registered office in a member state of the European Union or a state that is a party to the Treaty on the European Economic Area. The UK, Gibraltar and the Isle of Man might not fulfill this requirement anymore after an exit depending on the content of the contracts they will negotiate with the EU in the future. So it might be necessary to move the registered office to another EU country.
  2. Gambling companies with licenses from the UK, Gibraltar and/or the Isle of Man might not be able to refer to the single market and the EU’s freedom to provide services any more if those states are not able to negotiate participation at the single market with the EU. This becomes relevant in court proceedings where EU licensed gambling companies argue that they are allowed to operate in Germany with the non-German but EU license.
  3. In the event of exit companies that collect sporting bets on behalf of UK-licensed operators in Germany will not be able to defend their business with the recent ECJ decision that ruled that EU law may preclude the imposition of penalties in respect of the unauthorised cross-border intermediation of sporting bets carried out in Germany. One strategy against those impacts (2. and 3.) might be to switch from a UK or Gibraltar license to a license from another EU country.

There is still time to look out for the possible changes and adapt the business accordingly. For the moment EU law remains valid and enforceable in the UK and there is no immediate loss of protection. There will be a two year period to negotiate the terms of UK’s exit from the EU, which starts from the date the UK Government officially notifies the EU of its intention to leave. The negotiations need to be completed within two years, although this period can be extended if the negotiations are on-going and if all 28 EU member states agree. We will continue to post updates on developments in this matter here as they arise.

UK: Betting on TV programmes: has the novelty worn-off

By Sean Godfrey and Verity Young

The Gambling Commission has issued a warning to operators who offer markets on pre-recorded TV shows such as the Great British Bake Off and Strictly Come Dancing and other novelty products following negative media reports around the integrity of such betting, causing damage to the wider perception of gambling in Great Britain.

Read the rest of this entry »

What changes for gambling companies with the EU Privacy Regulation?

The impact of the EU Privacy Regulation on gambling companies is going to be considerable and we discussed about it during a webinar on 9 June 2016. Read the rest of this entry »

First Portuguese online gaming license awarded

by António Moura Portugal, Partner at ABBC & Associados

With considerable delays the Portuguese regulator just awarded the first online gaming license which might open up a new interesting market. Read the rest of this entry »

UK Regulator Ramps Up AML and Related Compliance

By Hilary Stewart-Jones

The UK regulator the Gambling Commission has published some enhanced provisions relating to AML and crime prevention. The revised licensing conditions and codes of practice (“LCCP”) are to be implemented in the Autumn.  The consultation of last year which preceded these changes was against a backdrop of several high profile settlements with operators which had for the period reviewed apparently failed in the standards required of them.

Read the rest of this entry »

UK: Placing Digital Adverts Responsibly – Gambling Commission Launches Consultation on Wording for New Licence Condition

By Sean Godfrey and Verity Young

The UK Gambling Commission has launched a consultation on the specific wording of a new licence condition which places an obligation on licensees to take responsibility for ensuring adverts placed by themselves or others do not appear on websites providing unauthorised access to copyright content.

Read the rest of this entry »

UK Gambling Commission – Corporate Business Plan: April 2016 – March 2017

By Alex Chaize

The Gambling Commission’s annual business plan for the forthcoming year is set against the backdrop of various challenges to the industry such as: supply chain consolidation; the launch of national sector-specific self-exclusion schemes; technological changes and controversy around fixed odds betting terminals. The plan emphasises a “continuing focus on putting consumers at the heart of everything we do” and sets out themes including:

  • protecting vulnerable consumers;
  • ensuring markets are fair and open; and
  • monitoring and challenging the National Lottery.

Read the rest of this entry »

Germany: Administrative court orders gambling authority to issue sports betting license

By Dr. Michael Stulz-Herrnstadt and Christoph Engelmann

Nearly four years have passed since the new State Treaty on Gambling (GlueStV) came into force allowing up to 20 sports betting licenses. The German gambling authorities reviewed the applications for sports betting licenses, decided that 35 companies meet the requirements and selected 20 companies to receive a license. But because of court challenges no license has been issued which led to criticism by the European Court of Justice (ECJ).

On Friday (15 April 2016) the administrative court of Wiesbaden (VG Wiesbaden) ordered the German gambling authorities to issue a sports betting license for one of the companies in the places 21 to 35. The court held that the limitation to only 20 licenses is contrary to EU law. Because the gambling authorities already decided that the company meets the requirements for a sports betting license they are required to issue the license without applying the limit of 20.

This is the first decision that orders German gambling authorities to issue a sports betting license under the current gambling regulation. With its decision the court “anticipates” the next move of the German gambling legislator which is rumored to be the extension of the limit of 20 to at least double the size. The legislator’s decision is expected in June.

Greek Government commits to introduce fully regulated online gambling market

By Richard Woolich

At a GamblingCompliance conference held in Athens on 19 April 2016, the Government committed to introduce a fully regulated market for online gambling, in Greece, to replace the current temporary licence regime. There will be strict rules and ‘higher tax’ and a proper consultation with business. In Parliament, it was  announced that the GGR rate should now be increased to 35% from the current rate of 30%. These GGR rates are the highest in Europe and will not encourage operators to comply.

Germany: EU Court rules against German sports betting regulation/new German legislation strongly needed

By Dr. Michael Stulz-Herrnstadt and Christoph Engelmann

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled that EU law may preclude the imposition of penalties in respect of the unauthorised cross-border intermediation of sporting bets carried out in Germany (judgment in case C-336/14). The case has been referred to the ECJ by a German local court (AG Sonthofen). AG Sonthofen had to decide whether someone who carries out sporting bet intermediation activities by means of a gaming machine installed in a sports bar located in Germany without the necessary German gambling license could be prosecuted. The sporting bets have been collected on behalf of a company established in Austria and holding an Austrian but not a German sporting bets license.

In Germany it is a criminal offense to collect sporting bets without the necessary German gambling license. Following an ECJ decision in 2010 the German courts ruled that the former state monopoly for sporting bets was contrary to EU law. That is why in 2012 a new State Treaty on Gambling came into force that allows 20 sporting bets licenses for private organizers as an “experimental clause” for seven years. However no license has been issued because of court rulings finding the licensing procedure to be intransparent, discriminating and unconstitutional. The state sporting bets organizer on the other hand was able to continue its business because of a transitional provision.

The ECJ ruled that a prosecution of the sporting bets intermediate is contrary to EU law under this circumstances. The reason is that the licensing process for private organizers has been held to not conform with EU law by national courts. In addition the state monopoly for sporting bets that has already been decided by national courts to not conform with EU law persists because of the transitional provision. As a result the prosecution would only rely on a formality – no license – that roots in an infringement of EU law.

With its decision the ECJ strengthens the role of sporting bets intermediaries in Germany. The German state legislators are now even more put on the spot to pass a new legislation with a licensing procedure compliant to EU law. In addition the Bavarian Constitutional Court recently ruled that sections of the State Treaty on Gambling are unconstitutional and the Higher Administrative Court of Hesse ruled that the central decision-making body of the State Treaty on Gambling (the so-called gambling council) is unconstitutional, too. The decision of the ECJ continues these doubts about the German gambling regulation. Some states (like Hesse) have already demanded new and more liberal legislation.

Update: Dr. Michael Stulz-Herrnstadt and Christoph Engelmann commented on the ECJ’s decision in the German magazine “GRUR-Prax” 2016 p. 106. The article can be viewed here (in German, subscription based).

Happy Data Protection Day!

To mark International Data Protection Day 2016 we would like to share with you some exciting new projects we have been working on to help you and your organisation prepare for what is expected to be an interesting year for data protection, privacy and security.

Everything you need to know about the EU Data Protection Regulation

We have launched a new microsite providing key information to help you learn more 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.

Access the microsite.


Data Privacy ScoreboxWeb DPD Privacy Scorebox January 2016

This is our brand new tool to help you assess your data protection maturity level.  It requires completing a survey covering areas such as storage of data, use of data, and customers’ rights. Once completed, a report summarising your organisation’s alignment with 12 key areas of global data protection is produced.  The report also includes a practical action point check list and peer benchmarking data.

Access the scorebox.

 

Web DPD Laws of the World Handbook January 2016

 

Data Protection Laws of the World Handbook

We are pleased to release the 2016 edition of our highly regarded Data Protection Laws of the World Handbook, which now covers over 80 jurisdictions. This 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.

 

 

Privacy Matters Blog
You may also be interested in our Privacy Matters blog.  Our global team post regular updates on all matters related to data protection, privacy and security. In order to receive an email when a new post is made, please enter your details in the subscription section on the blog homepage.

Access the blog.

About DLA Piper’s Data Protection, Privacy and Security Group
The DLA Piper Data Protection, Privacy and Security Group includes over 150 privacy lawyers worldwide. We provide business-oriented legal advice on achieving effective compliance wherever you do business. For more information, please do not hesitate to contact us at dataprivacy@dlapiper.com.

Join our gambling tax and regulatory seminar

Here is an opportunity for an overview on the main gambling tax and regulatory issues in the hottest European countries at our DLA Piper seminar. Read the rest of this entry »

Ukraine: government has intention to bring gambling back to Ukraine

On December 11, 2015 the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine has officially submitted for consideration of Ukrainian Parliament the Draft Law of Ukraine “On legalization of the gambling market and ensuring budget revenues with the purpose to fulfil social obligations” (the “Draft Law”) elaborated by the Ministry of Finance of Ukraine. The Draft Law, in case of its adoption by the Parliament, shall establish legislative framework for revitalizing gambling in Ukraine which has been banned since 2009.

In particular, the Draft Law allows mostly all types of gambling activities, i.e. lotteries, casinos and sportsbooks which can be carried out subject to obtaining by operators of respective licenses. There overall nine types of licenses stipulated in the Draft Law, namely:

(i) License on issuance and carrying out of lotteries;

(ii) License on organization of gambling in land-based casinos;

(iii) License on the each particular gambling table or slot machine in casino;

(iv) License on organization and carrying out casino games in Internet;

(v) License on carrying out poker game in Internet;

(vi) License on the poker tournament;

(vii) License on organization and carrying out of sportsbook activity;

(viii) License on the each particular sportsbook office;

(ix) License on organization and carrying out of sportsbook activity in Internet.

Additionally, the Draft Law provides for general conditions for obtaining the said gambling licenses, establishes particular amounts of license fees depending on the type of license, stipulates mandatory requirements to gambling operators, etc.

It is important to say that the Draft Law provides for possibility of carrying out casinos (incl. poker), sportsbooks and arguably lotteries activities online.

It shall be also mentioned that the Draft Law stipulates establishing of the new state body – State gambling service – which would regulate the gambling industry in Ukraine. The State gambling service is the body to be established by the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine and thus controlled by it.

At the same time the Draft Law does not specifically address the matters of taxation of gambling activity. However, these matters are covered by the new wording of Tax Code of Ukraine the draft of which has been also recently submitted to the Parliament by the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine.

As of today the Draft Law has not yet been considered by Ukrainian Parliament, however based on publically available information the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine has strong intention to lobby its adoption by the end of this year and its voting in Ukrainian parliament is scheduled on 17 December 2015. Such intention of government is caused by the fact that the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine has already considered the proceeds to the budget out of gambling activity while preparing draft of state budget of Ukraine in 2016 which is currently also being under consideration in Ukrainian Parliament.

 

The Netherlands: regulator signs cooperation agreement with 19 EEA-jurisdictions

By Richard van Schaik and Róbin de Wit

 

Last week, twenty gambling regulators – amongst which the Dutch gambling authority (Kansspelautoriteit) – signed a cooperation agreement that provides a controlled and intensified exchange of information between the jurisdictions involved. This cross-border information exchange will consist of e.g. information regarding gambling operators, licensees, consumer protection and the prevention of gambling related fraud. Ten other jurisdictions will become a party to this cooperation soon.

The general idea behind this agreement is that member states need to join forces in order to successfully address cross-border aspects and issues related to gambling. The upcoming Dutch licensing system – for which the Dutch gambling authority is currently making necessary preparations – provides for a basis for international administrative cooperation with foreign supervisory bodies. Now that the jurisdiction of the Dutch gambling authority is limited to Dutch territory, international cooperation is of the essence to ensure compliance with the future Dutch Remote Gambling Act and its enforcement.

The text of the cooperation agreement will be published on the Dutch gambling authority’s website soon.

GB: Commission reviewing peer-to-peer poker

The Gambling Commission has announced that regulations governing online peer to peer poker are being reviewed.

In the first stage of the review the Gambling Commission is seeking information from its licensees about collusion and cheating – including the use of automated poker robots and third party software.

GB: Gambling advertising – information published by the Gambling Commission

The Gambling Commission has published information regarding (i) the use of under 25s in marketing materials; and (ii) the hot topic of marketing of promotional offers e.g. free bet and bonus banner ad offers. The information is conistent with and links back to the LCCP requirements and CAP & BCAP guidance available in respect of these issues.

The information the Gambling Commission has published is available here.

US: patents in iGaming

Paul Taufer (Partner, DLA Piper, Philadelphia) and Stacy Rush (Technical Adviser, DLA Piper, Philadelphia) have published an article in iGaming Business (July/August 2015 edition), looking at the issues arising as European iGaming suppliers step into the patent-rich US market.

Read the article – Playing the patents game.

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