Every month Euroslot brings you the latest regulations, court rulings and government policies affecting the industry around the world
Gaming Laboratories International will hold its Latin American regulators’ round table in Buenos Aires on 28 September. Topics to be covered will include money laundering, Internet gaming, lotteries and network security.
Brazil, where currently only lotteries and betting on horse racing are permitted, could legalise bingo and video lottery terminals (VLTs). Arnaldo Faria de Sá, a member of the National Congress, says legitimising these forms of gambling could raise funds for healthcare – government coffers would gain an estimated $7bn annually – and prevent organised crime controlling the country’s 1500 bingo halls. However, it is uncertain what body would regulate the sector: Caixa Económica Federal, which operates lotteries, has said it is not interested.
Canada now classifies “keeping a common gaming or betting house” and “betting, pool-selling and bookmaking” as “serious crimes”. Already minor offences, they – along with others – have been elevated to graver status in what the government said was a crackdown on organised crime. Separately, the country’s First Nations are planning to establish a national aboriginal gaming commission.
Ecuador’s president Rafael Correa is understood to be determined to close all the country’s casinos, including those that are currently operating legally.
Internet service providers in France will be forced to block access to illegal gambling Websites after a court ruled in gaming regulator Arjel’s favour. They could be fined €10,000 per day for non-compliance.
The right of European Union member states to make their own rules on gambling has been given further support by the European Court of Justice (ECJ). The court ruled against Leo-Libera, a German arcade operator which argued that its gaming machines should not be subject to VAT. Arcades fall within the category that the relevant law describes as “other forms of gaming”, Leo-Libera suggested, and should therefore be exempt.
But the ECJ said that the gaming machines in question are not in competition with other types of gaming that come into the “other forms” category and enjoy VAT relief. It said that therefore the German government is not being inconsistent in its application of tax rules, and is entitled to make its own decision on the machines’ VAT status.
The European Commission is currently reviewing the proposed new Italian rules on remote gaming, which would not permit venues to offer consumers the gaming terminals known in Italy as “totems”.
Mexican media giant Televisa is reported to have joined other gaming companies in legal challenges to Mexico’s new tax rules on slot machines.
Poker is a game of skill, a court in The Hague has ruled. It was previously seen as a game of chance, meaning that organisers required a permit, which effectively prevented any individual or group other than the casino monopoly Holland Casino from running tournaments.
The new ruling arose from the case of an individual who had been charged with organising poker illegally, and was based partly on mathematical evidence distinguishing chance games from skill games. However, the Netherlands’ public prosecutor is likely to appeal the decision.
Meanwhile, the Dutch government has submitted a proposed restructuring of regulations concerning slot machines to the European Commission.
The gambling zone in Rostov – the only one currently functioning in Russia – could be closed after disappointing performance and replaced by another on the Black Sea coast. However, the Rostov regional government has said it will fight attempts to strip it of its status little more than a year after Moscow banned gambling outside of four special zones.
Sweden is entitled to ban the advertising of online gambling services hosted outside its borders, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) has ruled.
HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) in the UK has reviewed the Amusement Machine Licence Duty (AMLD) due on SWPs following consultation with government bodies and outside groups including the Gambling Commission, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, BACTA, the British Beer and Pub Association, The British Association of Leisure Parks, Piers and Attractions, and the Working Men’s Club and Institute Union.
HMRC’s aim was to clarify “when a prize game played on a machine is a gaming machine and therefore liable to AMLD and regulatory controls”. In particular, it sought to establish whether quiz games based on Monopoly and Cluedo had an element of chance – making them gaming machines and liable to AMLD – or if chances of winning were based entirely on skill, in which case the tax would not apply.
HMRC concluded they were pure skill games and said it would be“content for business to use the same reasoning to determine if similar games might also be outside the scope of AMLD”.
It also issued a detailed definition of SWPs which mandated that they must test skills, must not look like a game of chance, must require “a reasonable amount of player interaction” before paying out, and should not make impossible demands on players (such as requiring them to read a quiz question and all the answers in less than five seconds).
Separately, pub owner and brewer Greene King has won from HMRC more than £6m in VAT that the firm had paid on gaming machines. Rival pubco JD Wetherspoon earlier won nearly £15m in a similar case.
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