USA WTO Antigua Online Gambling DIspute Sees No End

The World Trade Organization was created in1995 and is in the business of regulating International trade. Headquartered in Geneva Switzerland with a membership of 164 states representing 98 per cent of world trade have many issues on the table regarding the rules of trade between nations.

The goal of the organization is to ensure that trade flows as smoothly, predictably and freely as possible which if those member cooperate and adhere to the agreement negotiated and signed by the bulk of the world’s trading nations and ratified in their governments. One dispute that keeps reflecting the unhealthy situation the WTO is placed when it comes to settlements of these regulatory disputes.

Antigua Barbuda the tiny island nation in the Caribbean has had a long standing problem with the USA and the disregard fifteen year old WTO ruling in favour of Antigua. Antigua challenged successfully America’s protectionist online gambling policies back in 2003.  It is obvious the US has no intention of being WTO compliant. When disputes are leveled against the USA it routinely ignores WTO rulings.

The new president of the USA is even more adamant about the campaign to dissolve the fair trade organization. US Ambassador Shea announced recently that the US intends to disregard any ruling by the WTO’s Appellate Body that isn’t issued in the stipulated 90 days

The US has been blocking appointments of new Appellate Body judges, while demanding that all future rulings be unanimous or else they won’t apply. Nearly 70 WTO member countries have signed a petition urging the US to drop its opposition to new judicial appointments.  

The situation has become more complicated for the WTO with a massive influx of disputes initiated by Trump’s recent new tariffs on metals and other products. This president dislikes multilateral agreements, preferring bilateral deal-making. There is little hope that a WTO-appointed mediator will convince the USA it is obligated to pay the penalty it owes to Antigua.



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Vietnam Moves To Make Sports Betting Legal

Stemming the tide of  illegal online gambling sites has been a huge task for some  jurisdictions. Many jurisdictions did not realize how mobile gambling would affect gambling activity on the FIFA World Cup challenge.

Vietnam has been overwhelmed with illegal online gambling of late with Vietnam’s National Assembly passing a bill that legalizes the principle of sports betting the situation is about to change.

Although critics are now saying that this is too little too late at least it is a step in the right direction for Vietnam. Licensing of sports betting makes total sense both economically and politically. The government will gain revenue from the taxation and licensing that it can use to create a better system for gamblers who are at risk. The government says that it wants to “ensure transparency, objectivity and honesty” in the new industry, as well as “ensuring the rights and obligations of involved parties”.

Authorities have yet to determine which sports will be covered, it has been suggested however that horse racing, dog racing, and international football will be on the list. A 2017 pilot program allowed certain Vietnamese gamblers to bet with one licensed operator and all sports which were included.

There are going to be significant security aspects attached to the new rules including both money laundering and “affordability” tests on gamblers. The Vietnamese government allowed local casinos to accept bets from Vietnamese locals for a three-year trial long as they were over 21 and have a monthly income of at least VND10m ($442, £335).

The Vietnamese government will undoubtedly feel pressure to enlarge its legalization of gambling in general in the jurisdiction knowing that gambling is a pastime that the people enjoy in many forms. The next FIFA competition is only four years away and as the use of mobile explodes revenues from legal sports betting may be more than expected.


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Europe's Online Gambling Industry Booming

The online gambling industry has become a global phenomenon worth billions of dollars which Is exhibiting no signs of slowing down. The need for regulation has never been greater even though there is some regulation there is still a huge illegal market for online gambling services all over the world. As technology keeps up with the growth of online gambling  regulators are constantly updating the rules for safe access to online gambling services.

According to reputable sources the European online gambling market which is believed to account for more than a half of the global Internet gambling sector in 2017 was estimated to be between €38 billion and €40 billion last year. These numbers do not take into account the unfathomable amount of money that is involved in the underground gambling industry.

One of the best examples of the fast expanding regulated internet betting is Sweden, The liberalization of Sweden’s internet gambling market is finally opening the local market to international operators. Sweden’s gray market has been thriving for several years it has been suggested the new regulatory regime, set to take effect on January 1, 2019 may result in the formation of one of Europe’s largest regulated markets.

Sweden’s entire gambling market totaled SEK22.6 billion about €2.2 billion) last year. Illegal operations accounted for nearly twenty five percent of that market with reported gross gambling revenue of SEK5.5 billion (approximately €533 million).

Sweden’s gambling regulator, Lotteriinspektionen, is now responsible for reviewing and granting the licenses under the new regime and for overseeing the open market. Sweden is just several months away from removing the government’s Svenska Spel’s monopoly providing most of the gambling services that are legal under the country’s regulations, in hopes that the Swedish gambler will feel safer at regulated web locations.


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32Red Online Casino Nailed By The UKGC

Kindred Group the parent company that owns 32Red Online Casino which is a British online casino company licensed in Gibraltar. Founded back in 2002, 32Red is registered on the Alternative Investment Market, as section of the London Stock Exchange.

Recent news that the casino will face stiff penalties for not following the set rules of conduct established by the U.K. Gambling Commission for a registered online gambling services provider sets a bad example reflecting on the entire industry.

A financial fine and penalty tabled consists of £2m (€2.3m/$2.6m) for failures in consumer protection and money laundering activity.

One of 32Red’s customers was allowed to deposit £758,000 between November 2014 and April 2017 without any social responsibility or money laundering checks. The investigation by authorities revealed the penalty necessary based on the overwhelming evidence.  The UKGC investigative team said there were as many as 22 incidents which indicated the customer was a gambler with issues. The casino instead of intervening, awarded the customer with free bonuses.The 32Red was negligent in looking into the financial stability of the gambler’s play habits.

Some critics believe there should be more than just financial penalty packages as punishment for this kind of neglect and it is a serious problem the online gambling industry has.

Executive director of the UKGC, Richard Watson, commented, “Instead of checking on the welfare of a customer displaying problem gambling behaviour, 32Red encouraged the customer to gamble more - this is the exact opposite of what they are supposed to be doing.

“Operators must take action when they spot signs of problem gambling and should be carefully reviewing all the customers they are having a high level of contact with.

“Protecting consumers from gambling-related harm is a priority for us and where we see operators failing in their responsibility to keep their customers safe we will take tough action.”


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WHO Gaming Disorder Classification Puts Online Gambling In Spotlight

The recent scathing revelation that the The World Health Organization has proposed adding gaming disorder to its new comprehensive manual of disease classifications.

Remembering there varying degrees of impairment for whatever reason there now is hope for those who may truly need professional care for what is a now considered a real affliction.The critical difference is hard to see when people don’t recognise the disorder as valid.The WHO described the disorder, “The behavior pattern is of sufficient severity to result in significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning,”

The online gambling industry has had a big impact in the social fabric of the USA with problem gambling escalating.In the U.S.A Health insurance plans won’t pay for treatment for a disorder that isn’t considered valid.

Keith Whyte, executive director of the National Council on Problem Gambling said, "And even if there is a designation, it can be difficult to find treatment and to get insurance companies to pay for it. “Gambling addiction has been in the DSM since 1980 and we still struggle to get routine reimbursement,” said Whyte.“For one thing, health insurance companies don’t have to cover mental and behavioral disorders.”“This is something the Affordable Care Act was going to address but it’s still [regulated] at a state-by-state level,”

Whyte continued, “Just as with gamblers, gamers may think they are “professionals.” That makes a gambling or gaming disorder different from a substance abuse disorder. “You can’t become a professional drinker or a professional smoker,”

“But gamblers feel like the more they play, the better they get. The better they get, the more they win. So quitting is the last thing you want to do. You’re one bet away from winning everything.” “Addiction is not about winning. Addiction is about staying in action,”


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Thousands Arrested in Thai Online Gambling Crack Down

The many Asian jurisdictions have provided an opportunity for illegal betting to be the channel by which money is laundered. The one jurisdiction that has been getting press is the Thai government’s attempt to stem the tide of ordinary people being duped by unscrupulous operators. The authorities in that part of the world are taking some extreme measures to show they mean business.

The Bangkok Post recently revealed that those who were promoting gambling on the FIFA World Cup in Russia were in trouble with Phanurat Lakboon, deputy commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Bureau, as director of an operation against World Cup football gambling, said that the suspects who advertised or encourage others to gamble would face a maximum prison term of one year and or a maximum fine of 1,000 baht.  The police plan was to summon and charge around 100 celebrities and online beauty presenters for allegedly promoting illegal football gambling websites.

The Royal Thai Police will work together with the Anti-Money Laundering Office to seize assets of 3,199 people arrested between Jan 1 and May 31 in football gambling cases. The amount of paper work and legal council efforts in Thailand must be enormous.

Now the Bangkok Post has revealed that police have detained as many as 3,000 gamblers and bookies nationwide in the four days since the World Cup began, with thirty six financial institutions and phone service operators contributing to shutting down online gambling activity.

The authorities in Thailand are having a much more difficult time controlling online gambling and suspected money laundering with the wide use of mobile and the availability the task is overwhelming. Three thousand people arrested also sounds like a big problem for the government. It has been four years since the last World Cup competition and the police say there is at least four times more crime related to illegal gambling and money laundering.



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U.K. Labour Party Critical Of Government FOBT Delay

Keeping governments realistic comes from the opposition parties who are there to criticise and keep current legislators feet to the fire. The latest political fallout in the U.K. comes in the form of the opposition Labour Party accusing the UK government of being “fundamentally weak” after it was revealed that a delay until 2020 would be implemented on the restrictions proposed on fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs). It was announced by the government earlier that the maximum stake on the FOBTs would be cut from £100 to just £2.

According to The Times a later transition date has been agreed by the Treasury, suggesting that it was unlikely changes would be until 2019 because of the need for parliamentary approval for the introduction of a new statutory instrument.

The Labour Party’s Deputy Leader, Tom Watson, said to the Guardian newspaper, “Capitulating to a two-year delay is a pathetic move from a fundamentally weak government,” Watson added, “Those who praised the government when the announcement was made will feel badly let down. They are already rolling back on their promises and allowing these machines to ruin more lives.”

 An increase in the tax rate on online gaming will be introduced before the cuts on FOBTs stakes.

A spokesperson for the Campaign for Fairer Gambling commented, “Unbelievably, Treasury thinks it takes two years for the bookmakers to run a software update on their server-based FOBTs to remove games they should never have been allowed in the first place.”

 “Somehow Treasury has given the bookies a longer transition period than it’ll take the government to negotiate Brexit. The delay will mean hundreds of thousands more people experiencing harm before the gambling addiction gateway of high speed, high stakes roulette is removed.” Operators are confused as to who is pulling the strings on this contentious issue.  




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Paddy Power Supports LGBT+ At The FIFA World Cup

What do ex-Olympian Caitlyn Jenner, former rugby star Gareth Thomas and referee Nigel Owens, ex-swimmer Mark Foster, England women's football international Lianne Sanderson, choreographer Louie Spence, and Christopher Biggins have to do with online gambling is keeping all everyday gamblers in a fog because these people are high-profile campaign supporters of the LGBT community and the reason these names will become known to gamblers on the Paddy Power platform.

The iconic company has launched a 2018 FIFA World Cup LBGT+ donation campaign in partnership with Attitude magazine. A bold move for this outgoing firm that feels the need to bring attention to the situation LGBTQ participants face while involved in the FIFA World Cup experience.

The known gambling services provider has pledged to donate £10,000 in its ‘Rainbow Russians’ initiative with agency Synergy for every goal scored by the Russian team in the tournament. There has been a promise made of a minimum donation of £50,000 to the LGBT+ community to contribute to the “challenge LGBT+ prejudice on and off the field, support footballers and those in the game in coming out, fund educational programmes in schools and colleges and make grass-roots teams safe spaces for LGBT+ players.”

The spokesperson for Paddy Power’s commented on the campaign, "Given they invented Russian Dolls, you’d be forgiven for thinking Russia wouldn’t have an issue with women being into other women.

"Likewise, their appreciation for bears is one shared around the world by the LGBT+ population, so it really is astonishing that they have not used their stewardship of this tournament to champion LGBT+ inclusivity.”

An interest is changing the world into a more inclusive place is the ultimate goal of some companies that seize the opportunity and act. Paddy Power aims to please and profit in publicity that provokes and is remembered by everyone.





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Italy's New Government to Ban Online Gambling Advertizing

Italy is again doing whatever it can to slow down the activities of the online gambling consumer. The Deputy Prime Minister of Italy Luigi Di Maio, has issued a so-called ‘dignity decree’ prompting the move to continue plans to ban advertising for online betting services and products. Di Maio, is the leader of the anti-establishment Five Star Movement, which is the biggest political party in the newly elected coalition government.

The decree said there will be a “prohibition of gambling advertising.”  The new government also maintains it will implement, “strict limits on forms of gambling that allow repeated bets” as well as a “complete ban” on any gambling focused sponsorships.

Although the authorities are aiming to reduce the number of gambling terminals by 33 percent the minister has insisted that there is no desire to ban online gambling absolutely. Mr.Di Maio, who also hold the the Minister for Economic Development, Labour and Social Policies, portfolios has said that the efforts to curtail online gambling will begin with a ban on advertizing for internet betting.

Before the March elections in April Italy’s gambling regulator Agenzia delle Dogane e dei Monopoli (ADM) got applications for a licences to operate an online gambling enterprise from eighty firms. Each license fee costs €200,000 ($250,000) and many companies applied for multiple licenses. Some large firms have applied such as Bet365, PokerStars, Luckia, Videoslots and Lottomatica to offer online betting products and services in the Italian jurisdiction which if granted will run until the end of 2022. The new legislators also tabled anti-money laundering rules for licensed operators recently. The new measures now require operators to adopt a more complex system for registering new customers. The registration form it was proposed should contain a number of obligatory data fields for new customers.  

The gambling industry is bit confused right now with the government granting licenses but moving to restrict the activity.



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Another US Jurisdiction Votes To Legalize Online Gambling

It appears the anti online gambling critics are losing the legal battle against the implementation of legal online betting in a number of jurisdictions in the USA. The most recent being news that the creation of a Lawful Internet Gaming Act may soon be a reality in the State of Michigan.

A vote of 68 for and 40 against was passed in the House to regulate versions of licensed casino games. The senate must support the proposed bill before being signed off by the Governor. Critics of the move maintain it creates the problem of gambling addiction. Rep. Brandt Iden of Portage said, “We have to recognize that this is already going on in the state of Michigan," adding, "This is going on illegally. It’s illegal to do so, and it’s important that we regulate this to protect our citizens.”

Rep. Iden sponsored two of the three bills on the table, says online gaming could provide millions of dollars in revenue for the beleaguered state. Iden commented, “We’ve got a directive in the bill to ensure more money for k-12 education, our school aide fund," Iden continued,  "We’ve got money going to infrastructure and the roads, and then money for the city of Detroit” adding, “The Michigan websites will have strict state oversight, unlike the illegal and unregulated sites our resident use now, at great risk to their finances and personal information.”

Paula Musilek, a gambling addiction councillor at Harbor Hall in Petoskey said, “Gambling addiction is as serious of a problem as cocaine addiction," Musilek continued, “Certainly the state would have more, probably more control, more insight, and definitely benefit financially, but it also just broadens the ability and the opportunity to gamble, and that’s a concern,”

Iden concluded, “People in Michigan are already gambling over the internet, but they are doing so at risky and illegal websites.”  



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