The new draft of the German State Treaty on Gambling, which was provisionally approved by the country’s 16 states over the weekend, has been met with bemusement by politicians and the industry.
The draft includes unanimously welcomed proposals such as establishing a national gambling regulator for the first time with wide powers to police the market and combat unlicensed operators, together with proposals that critics say demonstrate a complete lack of understanding of modern consumers and technology.
The proposed treaty would end Germany’s long-running but ineffective prohibition of online casino gaming by allowing a national regulator to issue online casino licenses to operators, but also allows each state to decide what online gaming is allowed.
The draft restricts online gaming to slots and poker and gives states authority to approve other casino games such as roulette and blackjack, while live sports betting would only be allowed on very limited markets such as the next goal.
“The decision to finally abolish the ban on online gambling and issue permits for virtual slot machines is a long overdue step in the right direction,” said Dr. Dirk Quermann, president of the German online casino association Deutscher Online Casinoverband (DOCV).
“But why then are other online casino games like roulette once again treated differently on the internet. It is difficult to understand the federal state’s boundaries.”
Quermann added that giving individual states authority over online casino games will only create new state monopolies in a digital world, but stressed that he would have to carefully examine the detail of the proposal before making a final assessment.
That sentiment was echoed by German sports betting association Deutscher Sportwettenverband (DSWV).
“The federal states have presented a highly complex, almost 70-page regulatory framework that first requires our intensive analysis to determine its full scope,” said DSWV president Mathias Dahms.
Dahms welcomed the progress towards better regulation of the market explained that his early conclusion is that the restriction on live betting endangers the goal of channelling consumers to a legal and regulated offering because 60 per cent of all betting is in-play live betting.
“Disappointed consumers will turn to black market offerings that don’t comply with legal requirements,” he warned.
He also questioned whether the proposed cross-operator €1,000 a month deposit limit for players would achieve its goal of reducing problem gambling, and said that the proposed five-minute wait time for players switching sites “completely ignores the reality of life for consumers in the digital age”.
There was also a mixed response from lawmakers, with Schleswig-Holstein state chancellery secretary Dirk Schrödter (CDU) hailing the agreement as a breakthrough and a really good result, while a CDU spokesperson conceded that there is a need for improvement, particularly around live betting. The CDU’s partner in pushing for a better regulated gambling market went further, warning that no deal is better than a bad deal.
“It should remain our goal to get nationwide gambling regulations. But that is not possible at any cost,” said Jan Marcus Rossa, the FDP spokesperson for gaming policy.
“We Free Democrats welcome the fact that nationwide regulations for online gambling are finally emerging. Without question this is an important step in the right direction, paving the way for future suppression of the illegal online gambling market in Germany.
“However, we must not overlook the fact that the current draft does not meet our expectations in all areas and falls short of the state parliament resolution of 2017.”
Schleswig-Holstein broke away from the State Treaty in 2017 to pursue its own gambling policy that already includes live betting and online casino.
“This applies in particular to the topics of monopoly, access restrictions and online casino as well as the goal of achieving equal regulatory treatment for all online forms of gambling,” Rossa said. “We are critical of the treatment of live betting and data protection aspects of the proposed cross-provider player accounts (€1,000 limit files).”
The FDP is urging the Schleswig-Holstein parliament to quickly consider the proposal and make changes during the upcoming consultation process to align the proposed state treaty with the regulations of the state, or else continue alone.
A spokesman for the Schleswig-Holsetin parliamentary group of Alliance 90 / The Greens added: “The breakthrough in the state negotiations is a huge step towards successful regulation.
“Liberalisation combined with strict but balanced regulation could enable us to achieve what other countries like Denmark have already done: to largely displace illegal offers in favour of a safe and regulated gambling offer.”
LAWMAKERS IN WASHINGTON STATE HAVE INTRODUCED TWO DIFFERENT BILLS TO AUTHORIZE SPORTS BETTING IN THE STATE.
The first bill HB2478 (companion bill S6277) was introduced by Representative Brandon Vick late last week and would authorize sports betting at tribal casinos, card rooms and racetracks.
Under the proposed bill, an operator may accept bets on sports events from players over the age of 18 that are physically present in a retail sports betting lounge, or via self-service betting machines or an online sports pool.
Each tribal casino and sports betting licensee may provide no more than one branded sports betting website, which may have an accompanying mobile application bearing the same brand for an online sports pool.
A sports pool must be operated in a retail sports betting lounge located at the tribal casino, card room, or racetrack complex, while operators can only launch online once a retail betting lounge has commenced operation.
Licensed operators may provide promotional credits, incentives, bonuses, complimentaries, or similar benefits designed to induce sports betters to wager. The server or other equipment used by licensees to accept wagers at a sports pool or online sports pool must be located in that tribal casino, card room, or racetrack complex.
The Washington state gambling commission will have the authority to charge a card room and a racetrack a fee for the issuance of a sports wagering license in an amount of $500,000 for the initial issuance and “a reasonable fee” in the case of a renewal.
Every tribal casino and sports betting licensee will pay a tax of 10 per cent of net gaming revenue to the state.
A second bill HB2683 (companion bill SB6394) would authorize sports betting on a very limited basis by restricting it to tribal casinos in the state.
Upon the request of a federally recognized Indian tribe in the state, the tribe’s class III gaming compact must be amended pursuant to the Indian gaming regulatory act.
This will authorize the tribe to conduct and operate sports wagering on federal Indian lands, provided the amendment addresses how sports wagering will be conducted, operated, and regulated.
Both bills, HB2478 and HB2683, have been read for the first time and referred to the Committee on Commerce & Gaming for further approval.
Senator Joseph Addabbo’s bill to authorise online sports betting in New York gained unanimous support from the Senate Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee Monday.
Senator Addabbo’s bill would allow the state’s commercial and tribal casinos to partner with an agent to offer internet-based sports betting to players in New York.
Mobile or internet-based sports betting would be taxed at a rate of 12 per cent of gross revenue compared to 8.5 per cent for retail betting, and commercial operators would be required to use geolocation technology to ensure that mobile betting is not available in a native American tribe’s exclusive geographic area without consent.
The bill (S17D) also requires operators to provide parental controls to prevent minors from accessing a sports betting platform, and a self-exclusion programme for players to opt out of sports betting, and also sets a $250,000 lifetime deposit limit.
Players would be authorised to open and fund mobile sports betting accounts either in-person at a casino, through an affiliate, or remotely through the sports betting platform.
S17D was filed on January 9th and passed the Senate Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee Monday by a vote of 7-0. It now heads to the Senate Finance Committee.
The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) is continuing its fight against unlicensed online offshore gambling websites with moves to block nine further sites.
The ACMA is set to request Australian internet service providers (ISPs) to block nine illegal iGaming sites, and has urged Australian users of these sites to withdraw their money immediately.
Last November Emu Casino became the first online casino to be blocked in Australia. It has since exited the Australian market and is allowing customers to withdraw funds through its customer support.
The latest operators to be blocked include Roo Casino, GW Casino, Wager Beat, Joe Fortune, Ignition Casino, Casino Dingo, AU Slots, Top Bet and XBet.
The ACMA confirmed that more than 79 complaints were submitted about the sites, which have been targeting Australian players in breach of the country’s Interactive Gambling Act 2001.
More than 90 illegal operators have pulled out of the Australian market since 2017, when the ACMA started enforcing new illegal offshore gambling rules.
Casino games developer Yggdrasil has been granted a B2B software licence by the Isle of Man Supervision Commission.
The approval allows Yggdrasil to offer its portfolio of games and software to licensed operators in the jurisdiction, and adds to the supplier’s existing seven licences across the UK, Malta, Gibraltar and Romania.
“Ever since we began the business, we have been highly regulated and highly compliant in every major gaming jurisdiction,” said Yggdrasil chief executive Fredrik Elmqvist. “We take great pride in adhering to regulatory best practice and place great emphasis on compliance and responsible gaming across all our products.
“We’re delighted to add the Isle of Man to this prestigious regulatory roster, our eighth B2B licence, and I’m sure many more will follow in the years to come.”
Recently blacklisted online gaming operators in Greece will be excluded from the initial licensing process under proposed regulations.
The rules to govern the regulated Greek online gaming market were notified to the European Commission last week following the adoption of new online gaming legislation in October, which will see operators fully licensed and regulated in Greece for the first time.
Seven-year Greek licenses will be available for online betting (Type 1 License) and online casino games (Type 2 License) at a cost of €3m and €2m respectively, although operators that have appeared on the Hellenic Gaming Commission’s (HGC) blacklist of illegal operators in the year prior to application will be ineligible for licensure.
The HGC only blacklisted four websites in 2019, but is expected to expand this before the start of the new licensing process. The four sites blacklisted in 2019 are 1x2bet.gr, betballa.gr, fonbet.gr and 1×2-netbet.gr, with a total of 2,632 domains blacklisted since the introduction of the list in 2013.
The proposed Type 1 license regulations allow betting on sporting events, virtual sports, other events, and random number generator-determined events, excluding youth sports, event betting and betting on an outcome determined by another form of gambling, such as lottery betting.
Operators will also be prohibited from offering bets that have been banned by a sports governing body or competent authority such as the Hellenic Football Federation, and exchange betting is prohibited outright.
The maximum wagering amount is set at €500,000 for online betting, although players may request an increase to the threshold, while RNG-determined online casino games will be subject to a maximum bet of €2 per spin and prize of €5,000 in any one game cycle, excluding jackpots.
Jackpots may only be offered under a Type 2 license and must only be available within Greece, with jackpot operations strictly limited to games from the same manufacturer. The rules also prohibit jackpot pooling between licensees and cap jackpot prizes at a maximum of €500,000.
The proposed regulations also address game and systems certification, mandatory responsible gambling tools such as self-assessment and self-exclusion functionality and deposit limits, and rules regarding payment processing and data protection.
The technical and game regulations were notified to the European Commission on 31 December and are subject to a standstill period expiring on 1 April, 2020.
Michigan’s sports betting and online gaming legislation was signed into law by Governor Gretchen Whitmer on Friday.
The package of bills relating to fantasy sports contests, sports betting and online gaming is expected to bring in $19m in new revenue to the state, which will bolster the School Aid Fund by $4.8m and provide an additional $4m to the First Responder Presumed Coverage Fund.
The bills (HB 4307 – 4312; 4323; 4173; 4916 – 4918) allow the Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) to issue licenses for online and mobile casinos games and sports betting, which may be offered by licensed Detroit or Tribal casinos, and also establish a legal framework to regulate fantasy sports contests.
“My top priority in signing this legislation was protecting and investing in the School Aid Fund, because our students deserve leaders who put their education first,” Governor Whitmer said.
“Thanks in part to the hard work and leadership of Senator Hertel and Representative Warren, these bills will put more dollars in Michigan classrooms and increase funding for firefighters battling cancer. This is a real bipartisan win for our state.”
The approval comes a year after former Governor Rick Snyder vetoed a similar package of bills over concerns about their impact on the state’s iLottery revenue, which benefits the School Aid Fund.
The Illinois Gaming Board is accepting sports betting license applications under emergency rules released Thursday.
The initial rules govern licensing, oversight and discipline, and establish the application process for the state’s master sports wagering licenses, management service provider licenses, and technology and data supplier licenses, among others.
The rules also enable the Illinois Gaming Board (IGB) to expedite the process by issuing temporary operating permits in situations that do not compromise gaming integrity or public safety.
“Today’s release of applications and phase 1 rules is a significant step in the process the General Assembly and Governor Pritzker began earlier this year – the ethical and transparent implementation of sports wagering in Illinois,” said Illinois Gaming Board administrator Marcus Fruchter.
“IGB staff used responses from the [public] comment period to inform the rules and also derived best practices from states where sports wagering is already being conducted in order to develop a regulatory framework and implementation process that are right for Illinois and will protect the public interest.”
Thursday’s emergency rules will be followed by the release of operational rules early next year.
Swedish gambling regulator Spelinspektionen has called on industry suppliers to avoid serving unlicensed online gaming operators, while warning licensed operators to ensure that other brands within their group are not engaged in illegal activity.
The regulator set out the advice in a new strategy document outlining its plans to combat illegal gambling, which will be based on a Dutch-style prioritisation system.
This will see it prioritise enforcement action against unlicensed operators targeting Swedish consumers using criteria such as the availability of Swedish currency deposits and withdrawals, Swedish language customer support, or marketing aimed at Swedish consumers.
Gambling sites that meet these criteria but do not allow players located in Sweden to register an account will not be considered to be targeting Swedish consumers.
“It can be assumed on good grounds that those who engage in illegal gambling activities over the internet are usually headquartered in countries other than Sweden, often outside the European Union,” Spelinspektionen states.
“This poses special challenges for Swedish authorities. There is no one simple solution, or any tool that directly excludes the illegal gaming operations from the Swedish market. However, Spelinspektionen sees that there are several industry participants who can take steps to limit the opportunity and / or incentives to conduct illegal gambling activities in Sweden.”
This will see the regulator work with the police and consumer protection agency to bring criminal charges against unlicensed operators, as well as with regulators in other jurisdictions where such operators may be licensed.
Spelinspektionen also believes that Swedish licensed operators have a responsibility to combat illegal gambling by refusing to work with suppliers and payment processors who also serve unlicensed operators.
“For example, payment service providers and software providers can act by placing demands on their customers and partners,” the regulator explains. “Marketing companies can in turn act by working only with licensed gaming companies and thus avoid promoting illegality.”
The strategy document notes that licensed operators and consumers are best placed to provide tips about illegal gambling to enable the regulator to begin investigations and where necessary, apply for a court order to request payment blocking.
The Swedish regulator is also considering implementing a new warning system where consumers attempting to access an unlicensed site from Sweden will be displayed a message warning them that the activity is illegal.
The document also warns operators to be vigilant of group activities which could impact their Swedish license.
“Some of the companies that are licensed to provide online games in Sweden are included in one group with several other companies. If a situation arises where one of the companies within the same group provides online games that are targeted at the Swedish market without the necessary license, Spelinspektionen will also act against the licensee,” it warns.
“Intervention against the licensee can then take place, for example, by remark, warning or license revocation in accordance with chapter 18. section 12 of the Gaming Act.”
The regulator adds that previous violations will make operators ineligible for new licenses, while senior executives who have served at such companies will also be deemed inappropriate.
The government of Paraguay has announced plans to re-regulate the country’s gambling market and clampdown on illegal operators who are depriving the state of tax revenue.
The proposed changes were set out in draft legislation submitted to congress last week, in which the government stressed the need for “new legislation that will contribute to the orderly development of the sector” under strict state supervision.
The proposal calls for the licensing of each gambling activity, “taking into account the importance of technology in the commercialisation of gambling”.
In a statement accompanying the draft legislation the government said that gambling should be offered through concessions to private operators or state-controlled entities, taking into account the importance of gaming systems certification, monitoring tools for the collection of bets, and the implementation of safeguards with regard to problem gambling and money laundering.
It also calls for the development of new types of games, the establishment of a concession process, and the means by which to prosecute unlicensed activity – all of which will require “a regulatory body with sufficient resources”.