U.K.Operator Betfred Ruled Correct On Fiscal Neutrality Issue

The government is the supreme commander when it comes to gambling rules and regulations and when the authorities decide to change the rules sometimes there is push back from the affected businesses. The recent claim by U.K. operator Betfred  that the value added tax (VAT) applied to revenue from fixed odds betting terminals was in contravention of the concept of ‘fiscal neutrality,’ in so much that similar products weren’t subject to the same tax has implications for the online betting industry.

A first-tier tribunal ruled Betfred correct in the courts which could inadvertently bring new limits on online casino activity. The tribunal said that slots  “all met the same need from the point of view of the customer,” regardless of whether they were based on an a fixed odds betting terminal or some other form of betting applying the same rules for roulette, card games and virtual racing games.

The ruling has yet to be discussed by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) which applied the Value Added Tax to FOBT revenue gained by Betfred between December 2005 and January 2013, after which the authorities introduced a 20% Machine Games Duty, which was later raised to 25% in 2014.

Betfred may receive a £100m VAT refund, and if the rules are applied across the board the government may have to pay out an estimated £1.9b to other operators in the same boat. It is likely however the U.K. government will appeal the ruling and a delay of more than the established 2020 date for FOBT implementation will be much longer than that. The authorities will undoubtedly be raising taxes on other gaming products in order to mitigate losses from the reduced tax rate on FTOB s.

Legally land-based electronic gaming is indistinguishable from the online betting so the government could in fact impose the £2 maximum stake to online slots as well as other casino games.  




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Virtual Coin Funding For Online Betting Growing Stronger

Gambling with virtual currencies is advantageous for bettors who use the various forms of crypto funds for the activity and it is becoming more popular by the day. Countries like India for example are considering the legal implications of the use of crypto coins for gaming purposes. The Indian government is looking at the issue of online gambling which has been influenced by the use of virtual money. A recent report in India noted that gambling with crypto currencies “pushes even the web gambling marketplace underground, and very often, out of the reach of the law enforcement authorities.”

The issues are many regarding internet gambling and the use of virtual money while some online gambling web locations are expanding their betting offers using Bitcoin and Ethereum. Companies such as the Coingaming Group which operates Bitcasino.io points out that integrating a new mobile-first cashier and Ethereum as a payment method will give customers greater “control” over their gaming  enabling players to track deposits and withdrawals. Ethereum is the world’s second most popular crypto currency to play at online gambling games.

Tauri Tiitsaar, Bitcasino’s head of casino business commented, “The new solutions implemented allow players to command more control over their gaming experience,” adding, “Not only can they play in Ethereum if they prefer, but they’ll also be able to find their deposits, wins and make withdrawals quicker plus monitor activity more clearly.” “Given that mobile-led play is only increasing in popularity, it’s only fair that we meet the demand and deliver more mobile-first features such as the cashier,”

Tiitsaar continued, “The new technology offers players variety and control over the choice of crypto currencies they wish to play in – and we believe that playing with cryptos shouldn’t affect the quality of the offerings available, but only enhance them.”

Crypto currencies are here to stay and will continue to grow a following of online gambling players looking for speed as one of the key potential benefits of the payment method.




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Slovakia Headed Towards Liberalised Online Betting Market

Emerging jurisdictions for regulated online betting are realizing great potential economically and in many ways social benefits too. The revenue from legalization is often directed towards the needs of communities and citizens that are gamblers can feel secure and access help for issues if they arise.

In the balkans Slovakia's gaming sector has welcomed the submitted draft legislation concerning the current gambling legislation that dates back to 2005. The European Union has received the amended law that would liberalize the betting market by March of 2019. Taking a page from the experience of nearby nations the Slovaks have created a platform of regulations similar to the most successful ones.

Peter Papanek, Head of the Association of Betting Companies of the Slovak Republic, was quoted by web sport news Sport Aktuality as saying, "The state began blocking illegal companies. But that was only the first step. Now comes the second, clear rules for everyone - anyone who wants to offer online casino games will be able to do so if they meet the prescribed conditions,"

The interview continued, "Experience from abroad shows that, if the state wants to intervene against tax evasion and illegal gambling, it must go through the liberalisation of the market and the setting of fair conditions, inter alia, to motivate operators to operate legally.

"Illegal companies thus lose the incentive to circumvent the rules, and the state, in addition to income, also gains the certainty of consumer protection. The countries that have been chosen liberalisation have rapidly reduced the share of the black market."

A new Regulatory Office for Gambling is proposed but for now Slovakia’s Ministry of Finance will have responsibility for gambling which said it wants to “relax restrictions on access to the internet gambling market”. Firms must have a headquarters located  in Slovakia or another EU state to apply for an operators licence.


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LeoVegas' Rocket X Partners With SBTech

SBTech has just announced it has partnered with multi-brand, managed service online gaming company Rocket X to supply its sportsbook to a number of UK regulated web sites.

The SBTech arrangement has been contracted directly with Swedish mobile gaming giant LeoVegas, which created the Rocket X brand to consolidate its assets in the United Kingdom. Rocket X’s leading brand BetUK.com will offer players the very best sports betting coverage. Including YourBet, which gives punters a fully automated same-game accumulator with instant pricing. LeoVegas’ goal is to be, “Leading the way into the mobile future”. LeoVegas is on the leading edge using state-of-the-art technology for mobile gaming. Developments in technology are made in Sweden, with operations based in Malta. LeoVegas and Royal Panda including local, multibrand operator known as Rocket X offers casino, live casino and sport gaming while operating the within the two global and scalable brands. The firm’s success is due to an extreme product and technology focus and effective and data-driven marketing.

CCO of SBTech, marketing, Andrew Cochrane, commented: “This latest partnership is the result of our ongoing commitment to increasing our market share in key regulated markets by providing a sportsbook that meets and exceeds the high expectations of players. LeoVegas and the Rocket X team both share our vision of delivering a differentiated and compelling value proposition to players through product innovation, scalable technology and a fully bespoke trading and risk management approach.”

CEO of Rocket X Mark Good, said,  “The strength of SBTech’s in-play coverage, its technological and regulatory expertise, proven track record of powering high-growth operators in the UK and wide range of responsible gambling controls were at the heart of our decision to sign this agreement. With the power of one of the industry’s top sportsbooks behind us, I’m confident of achieving significant share in the uniquely competitive UK market.”


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Québec Told Blocking Online Gambling WebSites Unconstitutional.

The blocking of internet web sites has become an issue for many regulators trying to curb the influence of offshore online gambling operators on consumers looking to gamble for real money. The influence of non licenced internet betting operators has taken the government in the province of Québec Canada to try to stop the interloping operators by interrupting the process by demanding internet service providers block online gambling web locations.

After a long drawn out battle in the courts the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association (CWTA) has been found correct by the Québec Superior Court that blocking access to online gambling websites is unconstitutional.

The argument has been settled over a CWTA challenge that Bill 74 passed by the Quebec legislature in 2016 requiring ISPs to deny Québec citizens access to particular websites was not within the rule of law in Canada.

It was determined by the courts that only the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), rather than the province, has the proper jurisdiction over such matters.

Justice Pierre Nollet  said that the Bill was designed to “prevent gaming websites not exploited by the government from being accessible” and was “not about protecting consumers or their health.” Under the existing Canadian Telecommunications Act, carriers “shall not control the content or influence the meaning or purpose of telecommunications carried by it for the public”, unless the CRTC intervenes. The CRTC itself said that it only grants permissions to block websites “in exceptional circumstances”.

CWTA’s manager of government relations, Tiéoulé Traoré, commented, “We have always been clear that Canadians are better served by a proportionate and symmetrical set of federal regulations than a patchwork of provincial regulations,” Traoré, added, “This decision is important as we feel it will help send a strong message of regulatory certainty and increase the incentives for facilities-based investment in Québec and elsewhere in Canada.”


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South Africa Proposes New Gambling Legislation

South Africa has a thriving online gambling industry and terrestrial based casinos. The government has been working on the National Gambling Amendment Bill since 2016 in an attempt to challenge South Africa’s main gambling legislation and implement stricter protocols and revising the current regulations.

South Africa’s Minister of Trade and Industry, Rob Davies has presented the proposed amendment bill, which has extended consequences for casinos, betting pools, and informal online gambling sites. The bill sets out stronger rules and regulations for gambling in the nation.

The 49-page Amendment Bill features changes for the gambling structure and regulations in South Africa. The National Gambling Board is being repositioned as being responsible as the country’s gambling regulator.The proposed legislation will see the National Lotteries Commission assume the regulation of all bets on the national lottery, foreign lottery, lottery results and sports pools.

South Africa is determined to curb online gambling activity as a recent report revealed “While land casino gambling, sports and horse race betting, limited pay out machines and bingo is 100% legal in South Africa, online gambling is not, with the exception of sports, horse race betting and various lotteries (including the National Lottery).This means there are no South African-based online casino, poker or bingo sites. The result is that South Africans who choose to gamble online can only do so at offshore-operated and owned online gambling sites, which is considered to be unlawful under South Africa’s current gambling laws (Chapter 2, Part B of the National Gambling Act 7 of 2004).”

Other changes include recognizing a self-regulating body for the horse racing industry. As well as providing for broad-based black economic empowerment in the gambling industry. Notably this will apply to individuals applying for gambling licences.  The imposing of gambling advertising restrictions and the requirement that unlawful winnings are to be be forfeited to the National Gambling Regulator are also aims the legislation proposes.


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Golden Nugget Casinos Signs With SBTech

The recent changes in the sports betting rules in the USA has sparked a deal setting trend that some platform suppliers are making the best of. SBTech is a global leader in omni-channel sports betting and gaming and has been growing ever since its inception in 2007. SBTech has developed the gambling industry’s most powerful online sports betting and casino platform.

Licensees in over 15 regulated markets provide state lotteries, land-based casinos horse racing firms and igaming start-ups with the flexible betting and gaming solutions of SPTech. The company has over 1,000 employees in 8 offices globally.

Working from the position of strength the firm has just brokered a deal with Golden Nugget Casinos in Biloxi, MS and Atlantic City, NJ. Golden Nugget is the premier online casino operator by market share in the New Jersey jurisdiction.

The deal is yet another one for SBTech after chief commercial officer Andrew Cochrane revealed that that  SBTech was in advanced talks with “numerous” USA land-based gambling operators with Churchill Downs Incorporated and Resorts Casino Hotel agreements confirmed.

SBTech CEO, Richard Carter commented on the latest development,  “I’m very pleased to confirm our latest strategic partnership with a major US operator. Golden Nugget fully shares our vision of leveraging the power of innovation to achieve sports betting success, and as the US market matures, I’m confident of the potential for further collaboration in multiple jurisdictions.”

Thomas Winter, SVP & GM, Online Gaming at Golden Nugget also commented, “Since sports betting is a critical component of our successful expansion for online betting and gaming in the US, SBTech persisted through our arduous review process,” Winter continued to add, “In the end, we knew SBTech was the right partner for us because of its industry-leading retail and online technology, their significant and diverse regulatory experience as well as its innovative product-driven approach.”


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Française des Jeux Big FIFA World Cup Winner

It is always good news when we hear of someone winning and when it comes to the FiFA World Cup France is feeling pretty good, The 72 percent owned government owned gambling enterprise is also very pleased the team succeeded and was made champions. The French gaming giant released the figures confirming the firm took €333m ($390m) in bets during the World Cup tournament. The results were record breaking surging seventy five percent over the 2014 contest for the Cup. Now Française des Jeux has decided to remain mostly owned by the government for the time being with the good news of the fabulous win. The French betting supplier said in an update,

“These good results are explained by the extraordinary career of the Blues [national team], by the efforts of the company in terms of supply, accessibility and listing, as well as by the influx of French [punters] in the bar-tobacco-press following the games.”

Digital betting consisted of fifteen percent of the total wagered amounting to €1.2bn,surging up over fifty four percent only half way through the tournament.  

Over all the company numbers were in the black taking in €7.9bn in the first six months of the year, a growth of 5.3% over last year. There was €1.6bn in sports wagering revenue again up by almost twenty five percent.

The CEO of Française des Jeux, Stéphane Pallez said this about the government plan to divest some of the gambling firm and that the sale would offer an opportunity for the firm to “remain one of the leaders in the sector. You need to be able to continue to grow, especially internationally." Pallez added,  “Having open capital can be an opportunity to involve partners. If the state decided to quote the company, it could also be an opportunity to have an offer to the general public, but that is only one of the options.”


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Japan's Government Approves Integrated Resort Casinos

There has been a development in Japan regarding gambling that is very significant for the gambling industry. Japan’s parliament approved a bill that will allow up to three casinos to open in the country. This issue of allowing integrated resorts with casinos in Japan was on the government’s agenda before the response to the devastating mudslides in the west of the country earlier which was put at the top of the agenda ahead of the closure of the Diet’s extended session. The likelyhood of the integrated casinos opening before the second half of 2020 is slim. The new casino law has a number of restrictive caveats.

The opposition to the legislation was clear that it did not agree with the integrated resort bill  after a poll by Jiji news agency revealed as much as sixty percent of citizens were against it. Opposition parties even brought forward a motion of no confidence against the cabinet of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.The motion of no confidence was voted down in the lower house with the Bill supported by Japan’s ruling parties including the LDP, Komeito, Nippon Ishin or Japan Innovation Party and the Party of Hope.

The plan is to allow three locations in the beginning with possible expansion to be reviewed in seven years. Local regions will now bid for the right to host one of the three initial locations. Tax is set at 30 percent of gross gaming revenue and casino space will be restricted to three percent of the total resort area. Japanese residents will be prohibited from visiting casinos more than three times per week or 10 times per month. Visitors are able to visit the casinos for free, and there will be a set price of ¥6,000 (£41/€46/$54) per visit for residents. No timeframe has been established, and a regulatory body to oversee the program has not been created yet.


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Russian Digital Gaming Affiliate Opportunities Expanding

In the last few years the opportunities in the numerous jurisdictions around the world for the online gambling entrepreneur have grown tremendously but taking advantage is a challenge. Looking at the gambling market in Russia for example the recent rise in the use of digital media has presented a somewhat unique situation for the affiliate sector.

According to Dominik Johnson, director of key account development at Yandex Europe the expanding use of digital media in Russia is giving affiliates an excellent opportunity to connect with Europe’s internet users.

Speaking at the Amsterdam Affiliate Conference in Amsterdam recently Johnson told attendees how Yandex Europe had expanded its mobile app portfolio. He said more than 50 offerings covering all aspects of everyday life from travel to food had been added. Johnson commented that, “Users are going more into the mobile space,” he continued, “Russia is the No.5 country in terms of app downloads worldwide and there will be a 55% increase between 2017 and 2022. We’re just at the beginning.”

Russia is experiencing a significant growth in online and mobile usage. It has been suggested that internet advertising will eclipse the  television advertising purchase by 2020. The value of the advertising sector in Russia in 2017 grew by 14%, with internet advertising expanding by 22%. The growth projected is despite the fact that only around a dozen locally-licensed online sports betting websites are available in Russia.  The government of the country has taken steps to block its citizens from wagering on international web locations. Banks have been ordered to block all online gambling transactions beginning in June this year.

Johnson offered this advice to those accessing the opportunities, “If you are offering a gaming service, you need to think outside the box,” he continued, “You can see how others are successful, but you should never copy and paste what they are doing. If you are just replicating what others are doing, how are you going to be better?”


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