Every month Euroslot brings you the latest regulations, court rulings and government policies affecting the industry around the world
The state of Victoria is challenging the federal government’s plans for a compulsory limit on the amount gamblers can bet on poker machines. The scheme, to be in place by the end of 2014, calls for each player to have an ID card which prevents them going beyond a daily limit. It is also expected that ATMs in clubs and pubs will be restricted to issuing each individual a maximum of AUD250 (€185) per day. However, Victoria’s gaming minister Michael O’Brien has described the plan as “the type of Big Brother, nanny-state policy that many Australians will instinctively reject”.
Bulgaria’s health minister, Stefan Konstantinov, is reported to have called for a total prohibition of smoking in public places. However, he gave no timetable for the introduction of his proposed legislation.
EU member states are likely to be encouraged to adopt uniform policies on online gambling in a green paper ordered by European Commission (EC) internal market commissioner Michael Barnier and due by the end of this year.
The EC has dropped a case against France after the Paris government amended gaming laws to allow companies from abroad to offer online betting. Denmark, Finland, Greece, Hungary, the Netherlands and Sweden are still under EC investigation over similar concerns of protectionism.
The Israel Sports Betting Board is putting the design and building of an online betting operation out to tender.
The Japan Fair Trade Commission, the nation’s anti-trust regulator, is investigating mobile gaming operator DeNA over allegations that it put pressure on game developers to deny their content to a rival – believed to be social networking service Gree. DeNA is Japan’s largest mobile social gaming platform by revenue.
As we have reported in depth in Euroslot’s news section over the last two months, the British government has made a number of important changes to the regulatory regime for gaming that seem to signal an administration more friendly to the industry. First, it said that it would double the maximum stake on Category B3 machines found in adult gaming centres and bingo halls from £1 to £2, and increase the number permitted at each location to 20 percent of the venue’s total gaming machines.
The new rules, likely to come into force in mid-2011, were welcomed by trade body BACTA, which has long lobbied for the minimum stake on B3 gaming machines – reduced from £2 to £1 in 2005 – to be raised again. The government said it was doing this in response to the “grave” situation facing the gaming and amusement industries. It is predicted that the higher stakes could bring about £50m a year in additional revenue to the amusement and bingo sectors. Consultation on the details of the new rules is currently underway and the precise details may therefore change before implementation.
Then, as this issue of Euroslot went to press and as we report in our news pages, the government also said it would abolish the Amusement Machine Licence Duty – a flat-rate fee paid by operators of gaming machines – and replace it with a tax based on profits. There will be two levels of tax, as yet unannounced. It also extended the VAT exemption for betting and gambling to gaming machines.
However, Derek Lloyd, chief executive of gaming machine manufacturer and operator Danoptra, has criticised British gaming regulation for stifling innovation. Speaking at the annual conference of the Business in Sport and Leisure organisation, he referred to the contradiction that arises when consumers in a pub are legally able to play online games on their own laptops while the venue would be forbidden to offer them exactly the same game on a terminal.
The Gambling Commission earlier this year warned arcades, clubs and pubs that skill-with-prizes games (SWPs) offered by some suppliers may in fact be gaming machines that, unlike SWPs, are legally treated as gambling systems. And it has now issued a specific warning about a Quest Gaming machine, Skill Stop Roulette. It said: “Quest Gaming has misrepresented the Gambling Commission’s position with regard to Skill Stop Roulette. The Commission has made it clear to Quest Gaming that it suspects Skill Stop Roulette machines to be gaming machines on the basis of their presentation alone. This is irrespective of whether the Commission’s ongoing criminal investigation establishes the machines are also defined as games of chance by their operational nature...The Commission warns anyone making Skill Stop Roulette machines available for use without the appropriate licences or permissions that they may be liable for prosecution.”
National Lottery operator Camelot is this month introducing a rule requiring that online players must physically be in the UK or the Isle of Man to participate. Previously, players buying lottery tickets online were required to be resident in either the UK or Isle of Man, but could be in another jurisdiction at the actual time of purchase. The National Lottery Commission, the regulator, said it would in any case be illegal in many other nations to buy a ticket for the British lottery.
New Jersey legislators have challenged the federal government by voting to allow local casino operators to offer online gambling to the state’s residents. Foreign players would also be allowed to use the gaming Websites, although consumers from other U.S. states would not. The enabling legislation, passed overwhelmingly by the New Jersey senate and now requiring approval – which it is likely to receive – from the state assembly and the governor, is structured such that in effect only Atlantic City’s ailing bricks-and-mortar casino businesses will be able to offer online gaming. The games that would be permitted include baccarat, blackjack, pai gow, poker, roulette, and slots.
New Jersey’s bold move defies Washington, which in 2006 effectively banned online gambling nationwide by making it illegal for financial institutions to conduct transactions with their operators, although there are a number of initiatives among federal law-makers to change that – and state governments including that of Nevada, whose territory includes Las Vegas, are reportedly now considering their options in the light of New Jersey’s decision. Even the council which governs the District of Columbia, where the federal capital lies, is contemplating giving its lottery the right to offer online poker.
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