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21
Jun

Iowa governor signs bill to set two-year moratorium on new casino licences

The two-year moratorium on casino licences in Iowa will block P2E’s Cedar Rapids casino project in Linn County.

US.- Iowa governor Kim Reynolds has signed into law a measure that places a two-year moratorium on new casino licences. The moratorium was passed by the Iowa Legislature last month. The move will block P2E’s Cedar Rapids casino project in Linn County.

The moratorium is part of House File 2497, a broader law on gaming and regulations. The bill was passed 35-11 in the Iowa Senate and later 60-23 in the Iowa House.

Cedar Rapids mayor Tiffany O’Donnell said that Reynolds was aware that her signing the bill was “a disappointing decision for me as mayor and for the city.”

According to the Cedar Rapids Gazette, she said: “I expressed to her my disappointment and reassured her that Cedar Rapids would still be here when the moratorium is lifted in two years.”

Rep. Bobby Kaufmann, who chairs the House State Government Committee, said the objective was to preserve an “equilibrium” in the number of casinos. Kaufmann said he was concerned that with 19 state-licensed casinos, and 23 casinos in total, Iowa’s gambling market was saturated, which could impact on casinos’ donations to local nonprofits.

The Iowa Gaming Association’s president, Wes Ehrecke, said the group supports the moratorium. However, Linn County Gaming Association president Anne Parmley said the moratorium was “clearly targeting” the county.

The Cedar Rapids casino project
In March, the Iowa Racing & Gaming Commission opened the licence application process for a new casino in Cedar Rapids, Linn County, after around 55 per cent of voters in Linn County, Iowa, said yes to a casino last November.

Attempts to bring a casino to Cedar Rapids failed in 2014 and 2017. On both occasions, the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission said a casino would take funds from other casinos.

19
Jun

UK ads watchdog warns that gambling content marketing must abide by CAP rules

The ASA has warned operators that the “vast majority” of content marketing for gambling is subject to the CAP code

UK.- The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has warned gambling operators to ensure that content marketing on social media meets advertising rules. It said it had received questions about whether content marketing counts as marketing for the purposes of the CAP code. Its conclusion is that the “vast majority” does.

In its update, the ASA said questions had been raised over the extent to which the ASA’s remit covers gambling provider communications in social media content marketing: a type of marketing that involves the creation and sharing of online material (such as videos, blogs, and social media posts) that does not explicitly promote a brand but is intended to stimulate interest in its products or services.

The ASA responded that it has a common understanding with the Gambling Commission that all social media content published by licensed gambling operators must comply with the standards and protections set out in the Committee for Advertising Practice’s UK Code of Non-broadcast Advertising and Direct & Promotional Marketing (known as the CAP Code).

In April the Committee for Advertising Practice announced the introduction of tough new rules for gambling ads that it says aim to safeguard young people and vulnerable audiences. The rules significantly impact gambling advertisers looking to promote their brands using prominent sports people and celebrities or social media influencers who appeal to under-18s.

The new rules state that gambling and lottery ads must not “be likely to be of strong appeal to children or young persons, especially by reflecting or being associated with youth culture”.

The ASA view on gambling content marketing
The ASA said: “Social media includes a diverse range of content as marketers attempt to inform, entertain and, ultimately, promote their products and wider brand identity. Sports betting operators are arguably at the forefront of this with popular social media accounts on platforms like Twitter that attempt to drive significant engagement with their followers.

“The ASA regulates commercial communications in marketers’ own spaces online that are likely to have the effect of ‘selling something’; content that can reasonably be considered “advertising”.

For obvious reasons, it can’t regulate everything in the online space. One of the key exclusions – inspired in large part by the need to protect freedom of expression – is for editorial content.

“Gambling social media accounts sometimes include editorial-style content, like commentary or opinions on recent events, or more abstract humour, such as ‘memes’ and other irreverent takes on current sporting news. This has been described by researchers as ‘content marketing’ where there are no direct product references, calls to action or links to operator websites.

“The vast majority of ‘content marketing’ is effectively deemed by the ASA to “sell something” and is, therefore, regulated under the CAP Code.”

Exceptions to the CAP Code
However, the ASA recognised that there may be some exceptions and that some social media content may fall outside the ASA’s enforcement remit on the basis that it is considered not to be directly connected with the supply of the gambling product. This is likely to be where there are no direct, or significant indirect references, to gambling products.

It said that to “ensure nothing falls between the gaps”, the ASA and the Gambling Commission had agreed the following:

The ASA will continue to consider complaints about social media ads brought to its attention on a case-by-case basis in line with its existing approach to remit decisions.
In the limited scenarios where complaints about operators’ social media are deemed not to be within remit, the ASA will refer them to the Gambling Commission.
The Gambling Commission will consider provisions under its Licence Conditions and Codes of Practice (LCCP), which sets out the rules for operators licensed to transact with consumers in Great Britain, and will consider taking action in line with its Statement of Licensing, Compliance and Enforcement policy.

17
Jun

The Netherlands to ban use of role models in gambling ads

The ban will come into force at the end of this month.

The Netherlands.- Dutch MPs have been calling for new restrictions on gambling ads for some time due to complaints of saturation following the launch of the regulated igaming market in October. The minister for legal protection Franc Weerwind has asked for patience amid calls for time limits and a ban on untargeted ads, insisting that advertising is required to channel players to the new legal offering.

But now the gambling regulator de Kansspelautoriteit (KSA) has announced that gambling operators will be prohibited from using any role models in adverts. The ban will come into effect from June 30.

The KSA has sent letters out to operators and advertising bodies advising them of the new rule. It said that it will monitor operators’ marketing activity to check they comply with the ban and will take enforcement action if needed.

Meanwhile, Weerwind continues to urge caution on the next phase of gambling reforms. In parliament this week, he was asked if he agreed with Belgian justice minister Vincent Van Quickenborne’s description of “gambling as the new smoking” and that advertising should be banned.

Weerwind said the government was observing advertising closely but that he didn’t identify with Van Quickenborne’s statement. He said new measures will be proposed in the autumn.

He said: “The protection of vulnerable people is better guaranteed by legal providers than illegal providers. Where even better protection appears to be necessary, as is the case with advertising for games of chance, we will take measures.”

MPs and addiction experts have urged the government to ban “irritating and misleading” ads which they say have taken over evening television advertising slots since the Netherlands launched its regulated online gambling market on October 2 last year.

Operators spent €23m on gambling ads in the first two months after the regulated market launched. In December, MPs voted in favour of a motion calling for an end to what they described as an “unguided barrage” of untargeted ads.

In April, the KSA launched an investigation into the targeting of gambling advertising at minors and young people aged between 18 and 24. It requested information from licensed operators on whether they have sent ads to minors and young people.

Operators were told they must inform the KSA if they had sent emails, bonus offers, push messages or any other communication to under 25s. The KSA also asked social media companies to report cases of gambling advertising aimed at young people appearing on their platforms.

It’s placed a form on its website for reports to be made. The move came after the KSA warned operators over ads aimed at young people in February after finding that three operators intended to advertise on platforms mainly used by young people.

16
Jun

Malta removed from FATF greylist

The igaming hub of Malta has finally been removed from the FATF’s list of untrustworthy countries

Malta.- The G7’s anti-money laundering (AML) watchdog the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has removed Malta from its “greylist” of untrustworthy jurisdictions. The decision was taken at the FATF’s latest meeting in Berlin this week.

It comes three months after the FATF visited Malta to inspect reforms, including the country’s implementation of an AML action plan. The body had requested clarification on information collection and sharing with international financial authorities and measures on tax evasion.

It had recognised that Malta had made significant reforms through its action plan after it was grey-listed last year and had increased its use of the Financial Intelligence Unit’s (FIU) services to pursue money laundering and criminal tax cases. However, the body said that an on-site review was needed to ensure the AML measures were being implemented before Malta could be removed from the grey list.

Malta was placed on the FATF’s greylist a year ago following complaints from EU member states about its lack of regulatory oversight, tax avoidance and the processing of financial transactions. That saw it join a list of 19 other countries including Myanmar, Syria and Zimbabwe.

Maltese opposition leader Bernard Grech branded the decision a “national punishment”, warning that it could seriously harm Malta’s growing finance and gaming sectors. Malta’s prime minister Robert Abela said the FATF’s decision was “unjust”.

The measures implemented in Malta
However, Abela went on to order an overhaul of Malta’s Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit (FIAU) and the creation of a new company register in order to show transparency of ownership and assets.

The FIAU has since ordered Malta-domiciled businesses to follow its revised AML regulations that include new procedures for customer due diligence, reporting, outsourcing, staff training and vetting, record keeping and interactions with “non-reputable jurisdictions”. Maltese businesses were also ordered to disclose beneficial ownership in corporate structures.

In the meantime, a number of legal cases have begun involving former members of the Malta Gaming Authority. Last month, former compliance officer Iosif Galea was arrested on a European Arrest Warrant while on holiday in Italy. He was reportedly travelling in a group with former Maltese Prime Minister, Joseph Muscat.

The European Arrest Warrant had been issued at the request of German authorities, who wanted Galea to answer for alleged tax evasion. However, Galea also faces legal issues in Malta itself, where he was on bail for his alleged involvement in the leak of confidential information from the MGA.

Meanwhile, former MGA chief technology officer Jason Farrugia has been charged in court with several offences, including fraud exceeding €5,000, money laundering, extortion, acceptance of bribes, misappropriation, trading in influence, disclosing confidential information and computer misuse. His wife, Christine, 26, was charged with money laundering. Both have pleaded not guilty.

He is the second senior MGA official to be charged in court after former CEO Heathcliff Farrugia was charged with trading in influence due to communications with Yorgen Fenech.

16
Jun

Dutch regulator probes possible self-exclusion violations

The KSA says it has had several complaints of land-based gaming halls allowing entry to players who had self-excluded.

The Netherlands.- De Kansspelautoriteit (KSA), the Netherlands’ gambling regulator, is investigating possible breaches of the Dutch self-exclusion system. It’s received complaints from players that land-based gaming halls allowed them to play slots despite being registered on the self exclusion system, Centraal Register Uitsluiting Kansspelen (Cruks).

Some of those who complained said they were able to access slot halls with no issues raised, while others had their Cruks registration noted but ignored.

According to the Netherlands’ gambling regulations, all licensees in the regulated market, both online and land-based, must check whether a player is registered on Cruks before allowing them to play. The system was launched last October on the opening of the new regulated online gambling market. The launch of the new market was held up by a day due to a technical error with the system.

Players can register on Cruks themselves but they can also be referred by friends, family or operators themselves if they have concerns that the person may be suffering gambling harm. The KSA said it may impose sanctions if it identifies any breaches of the rules.

It said: “Failure to check players or ignore a Cruks registration is very serious. These players registered with Cruks precisely because they have problems with gambling and do not have control.”

In December, the KSA asked licensed gaming operators to run checks on their customer bases to make sure that no players were registered with Cruks after it detected an error that allowed some players that had signed up to access online gambling.

The regulator said operators should check players who signed up between October 2 and 20, which were the first three weeks of the operations for the new regulated online gambling market.

Players who sign up to the Cruks self-exclusion system shouldn’t be able to register for new gaming accounts with licensed operators or access regulated online gambling, but the KSA detected that an error appears to have allowed players to open accounts in that initial period.

The KSA said the error may have been caused if customers made a mistake when entering their citizen service number (BSN), name or date of birth. As such, the regulator says operators should consult Cruks to make sure the correct information is inputted and that Cruks-registered players are blocked from accessing gaming.

The Netherlands to ban use of role models in gambling ads
Meanwhile, the KSA has announced that gambling operators will be prohibited from using any role models in adverts. The ban will come into effect from June 30.

The KSA has sent letters out to operators and advertising bodies advising them of the new rule. It said that it will monitor operators’ marketing activity to check they comply with the ban and will take enforcement action if needed.

13
Jun

UK ads watchdog warns that gambling content marketing must abide by CAP rules

The ASA has warned operators that the “vast majority” of content marketing for gambling is subject to the CAP code

UK.- The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has warned gambling operators to ensure that content marketing on social media meets advertising rules. It said it had received questions about whether content marketing counts as marketing for the purposes of the CAP code. Its conclusion is that the “vast majority” does.

In its update, the ASA said questions had been raised over the extent to which the ASA’s remit covers gambling provider communications in social media content marketing: a type of marketing that involves the creation and sharing of online material (such as videos, blogs, and social media posts) that does not explicitly promote a brand but is intended to stimulate interest in its products or services.

The ASA responded that it has a common understanding with the Gambling Commission that all social media content published by licensed gambling operators must comply with the standards and protections set out in the Committee for Advertising Practice’s UK Code of Non-broadcast Advertising and Direct & Promotional Marketing (known as the CAP Code).

In April the Committee for Advertising Practice announced the introduction of tough new rules for gambling ads that it says aim to safeguard young people and vulnerable audiences. The rules significantly impact gambling advertisers looking to promote their brands using prominent sports people and celebrities or social media influencers who appeal to under-18s.

The new rules state that gambling and lottery ads must not “be likely to be of strong appeal to children or young persons, especially by reflecting or being associated with youth culture”.

The ASA view on gambling content marketing
The ASA said: “Social media includes a diverse range of content as marketers attempt to inform, entertain and, ultimately, promote their products and wider brand identity. Sports betting operators are arguably at the forefront of this with popular social media accounts on platforms like Twitter that attempt to drive significant engagement with their followers.

“The ASA regulates commercial communications in marketers’ own spaces online that are likely to have the effect of ‘selling something’; content that can reasonably be considered “advertising”.

For obvious reasons, it can’t regulate everything in the online space. One of the key exclusions – inspired in large part by the need to protect freedom of expression – is for editorial content.

“Gambling social media accounts sometimes include editorial-style content, like commentary or opinions on recent events, or more abstract humour, such as ‘memes’ and other irreverent takes on current sporting news. This has been described by researchers as ‘content marketing’ where there are no direct product references, calls to action or links to operator websites.

“The vast majority of ‘content marketing’ is effectively deemed by the ASA to “sell something” and is, therefore, regulated under the CAP Code.”

Exceptions to the CAP Code
However, the ASA recognised that there may be some exceptions and that some social media content may fall outside the ASA’s enforcement remit on the basis that it is considered not to be directly connected with the supply of the gambling product. This is likely to be where there are no direct, or significant indirect references, to gambling products.

It said that to “ensure nothing falls between the gaps”, the ASA and the Gambling Commission had agreed the following:

The ASA will continue to consider complaints about social media ads brought to its attention on a case-by-case basis in line with its existing approach to remit decisions.
In the limited scenarios where complaints about operators’ social media are deemed not to be within remit, the ASA will refer them to the Gambling Commission.
The Gambling Commission will consider provisions under its Licence Conditions and Codes of Practice (LCCP), which sets out the rules for operators licensed to transact with consumers in Great Britain, and will consider taking action in line with its Statement of Licensing, Compliance and Enforcement policy.

11
Jun

Lithuanian regulator closes proceeds loophole

The Gambling Supervisory Authority has closed a loophole that prevented it from confiscating the proceeds of illegal acts from companies.

Lithuania.- The Gambling Supervisory Authority has taken steps to close a loophole in Lithuania’s Code of Administrative Offences (ANK) that prevented it from confiscating the proceeds of illegal acts or the tools used to commit them.

The regulator had realised that while article 34, paragraphs 2, 3, 4 and 5 of the code allow tools used in an administrative offence and the proceeds of said offence to be confiscated, the measure applied only to individuals not to companies. It said that as a result, the regulator would not have been able to confiscate any proceeds of illegal gambling from companies – only from individuals.

It submitted an amendment to article 134 in 2021 in a bid to close the loophole and its proposal has now been approved and has entered into law.

Fines for breaches of gambling promotion ban
Meanwhile, the regulator has been very active in enforcement action against operators for breaches of Lithuania’s ban on promoting gambling. It has issued several €25,000 fines to operators in recent months.

The latest operators who have fallen foul of the rules were Olympic Casino Group Baltija, Tete-a-Tete Casino and UAB Baltic Bet. Previous fines were issued against Unigames and Betsson’s Betsafe as well as Amber Gaming and Top Sport.

Despite the new restrictions on promotion, Lithuanian gambling revenue continues to grow, rising by 90 per cent year-on-year to €43.4m in the first quarter of 2022. Part of the rise can be explained by the return of land-based gaming after Covid-19 lockdowns, but online gaming revenue also rose, up 16.7 per cent year-on-year to €26.8m.

8
Jun

Massachusetts House-Senate sports betting bill negotiations start today

A joint conference committee will meet to work on a bill that both chambers can approve.

US.- A joint committee will meet today to try to find a sports betting bill that both Massachusetts chambers can agree on. The Massachusetts Senate and the Massachusetts House of Representatives have each passed different sports betting bills.

The joint committee will try to find an agreement that both houses can approve before the legislative session expires on July 31. Representatives Jerald Parisella, Aaron Michlewitz and David Muradian and senators Michael Rodrigues, Eric Lesser and Patrick O’Connor are due to meet virtually at today (June 9) at 2pm to start negotiations.

One of the main differences is that bill passed by the Senate has a prohibition on wagers on collegiate athletes. The Senate bill would also forbid “advertising, marketing and branding through certain identified promotional items that, as determined by the commission, tend to increase the likelihood of problem gambling, which may include giveaways, coupons or promotional gaming credits”.

It would also ban marketing during a live sporting event and would only allow online marketing if 85 per cent of the audience “is reasonably expected to be 21 years of age or older”.

Another major difference is the tax rate. The House bill proposed a 15 per cent tax on mobile wagering and a 12.5 per cent tax on retail wagering activities. The Senate’s proposing a 20 per cent tax on retail betting and 35 per cent on mobile betting.

Massachusetts governor Charlie Baker has already indicated willingness to sign a bill if the two houses manage to reach an agreement. He has long supported sports gaming legalisation. According to some estimates, legal sports betting could bring an additional $35m in revenue to Massachusetts.

8
Jun

Kindred Group receives Dutch gaming licence

The operator’s revenue has suffered since it began blocking Dutch players in October.

The Netherlands.- When the newly regulated Dutch online gaming market launched at the start of October, several major players began to block Dutch players from their sites to conform with the new regulations. One of those operators has now secured a Dutch licence.

Kindred Group has been blocking Dutch players while it took steps to secure its own Dutch licence, a process that required it to wait for a cooling-off period to pass. It’s now obtained a licence from the Dutch gambling regulator de Kansspelautoriteit (KSA) to offer online gambling and betting.

Kindred said it will launch its Unibet brand in the Netherlands in the next few days.

Chief executive Henrik Tjärnström said: “The Netherlands is a large and important European market and one that we look forward to operating in with a local licence.

“We have been advocating local licence schemes for the past decade, and are thrilled that our newly awarded licence in the Netherlands will allow us to deepen and develop our involvement in the Dutch society, as well as actively contribute to a fair and sustainable gambling market.

“As part of our long-term ambitions and strategy, we are eager to provide a safe, secure and entertaining gambling experience for Dutch customers.”

Kindred has seen a signficant impact on revenue since it began blocking Dutch players. Revenue for the first quarter was down 31 per cent year-on-year.

Gross winnings revenue (B2C) was down 31 per cent to £242.4m, largely because of the block on customers in the Netherlands. Outside of the Netherlands, gross winnings were down 7 per cent (or 3 per cent in constant currency).

Meanwhile, the New York hedge fund Corvex Management is pushing Kindred Group‘s board to investigate selling the company after it reported that it now owns 10 per cent of the group’s shares and voting rights. The activist investor, which is run by Keith Arlyn Meister, made a statement disclosing its stake to comply with Swedish regulations.

6
Jun

Slovakia to introduce new gambling advertising standards

Slovakia’s Office of Gambling Regulation says the changes will improve gambling advertising standards across all media.

The Office of Gambling Regulation has announced the publication of a “Concept of Responsible Advertising” document with which it intends to improve gambling advertising standards. The document will introduce new standards for gambling ads in all media.

The document is intended as a “starting point” that operators and media bodies can use to introduce new self-regulatory and control mechanisms to ensure a safe gambling market for consumers and prevent crime and gambling harm.

The regulator will require feedback and practical comments from industry association representatives, gambling operators and third parties.

Gambling office director general David Lenčéš said: “It is socially desirable for Slovak gambling advertising to have clear standards and responsible content. That is why we have come up with the Concept of Responsible Advertising.

“This initiative of our office consists in opening a professional partnership discussion. It is mainly about the intensity, focus and content of advertising.”

Last year, Slovakia banned Twitch after a user streamed himself playing poker online. The US streaming platform is used by professional gamers, allowing fans to watch them play in real time while interacting and giving them their opinions and advice.

However, Slovakian authorities received complaints from audiences and sponsors due to illegal content being streamed to viewers of all ages, including streams of users playing virtual slots and even offering discount codes to fans.

The steamer that resulted in the ban, however, was a Twitch star called dDandis, who live-streamed himself playing e-poker. His account had more than 35,000 followers at the time.

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