The Gambling Control Commission in Alderney is to review its online gaming policies after the discovery that Full Tilt Poker, registered on the island, had misinformed authorities regarding its finances.
The Gambling Control Commission only learned of the incident following the U.S. indictment of Full Tilt Poker executives. “What wasn’t known to us is that the Department of Justice had frozen funds associated with the operation of Full Tilt,” said Andre Wilsenach, the regulator’s chief executive. “The funds we thought were cash were not cash and were not available to players or to the company.” Alderney has also revoked Full Tilt Poker’s licence.
The Remote Gambling Association (RGA) has published a document that offers advice to governments and regulators seeking to devise a legal framework for Internet gaming.
Said the association’s CEO Clive Hawkswood: “The RGA’s members include some of the foremost authorities on remote-gambling regulation and taxation issues, and disseminating that experience and expertise can only help the production and delivery of viable remote-gambling frameworks, in what is a relatively new area for many policy-makers.
“Our message to them is that working in partnership with responsible operators and building modern remote-gambling regimes that balance consumer interests and commercial opportunities presents the greatest prospect for new remote frameworks to be successful from a social and fiscal perspective.”
The document, entitled Online Gambling: Key Objectives for a Successful Regulatory and Tax, is available at www.rga.eu.com.
The Remote Gambling Association, the trade body for e-gaming operators, has said it is “deeply disappointed at the continuing absence of a properly regulated and competitive German gambling market for private remote-gambling operators”. It was responding to the German states’ support for a plan that “limits operator licence numbers; would see the adoption of a wholly uncompetitive turnover tax regime; and [would see] an outright prohibition of casino and poker online games” as well as live betting. It said a preferred model would be that of countries such as Denmark and Spain, which allow nearly all kinds of remote gambling and levy a tax on gross profit rather than turnover, as Germany intends.
The draft German legislation calls for a limit of 20 licences and a turnover tax of five percent. Individual consumers’ betting could be limited to €1000 per month.
Only one German state, Schleswig-Holstein, has broken away from the others and introduced its own regulatory regime for remote gambling. It also assesses taxes on gross profit.
Greece plans to delay the privatisation of the partially state-owned OPAP’s online gambling business until next year. It will, however, carry on with the sale of the state-owned lottery, which it is hoped will raise €1.7bn. This and many other privatisations in Greece are conditions of the European Union’s financial bail-out of the country.
It is feared that the delay in selling the online gambling business will further harm OPAP’s share price, which has already lost half its value in six months.
Meanwhile, the Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund, the body established to carry out the privatisations required by the bail-out, has opened the tender process for the licence to operate the Hellenic Lotteries for 12 years. Initial expressions of interest are due by 29 November. More information is at www.hradf.com.
Peru plans to require venues operating slots and casino games to report financial information over the Internet. The new rules, affecting roughly 800 locations, are intended to ensure that the correct amount of tax is collected. A law enacted in 2002 provided for real-time computerised links between operators and government, but implementation of that was postponed until next year; this latest amendment to the rules now means that the Internet rather than a dedicated data network will be employed.
Spain’s national gaming regulator has published a list of testing bodies that it has authorised to approve on-line gambling operators.
Potential operators must now have their Internal Control Systems – Spain’s term for the technology which sends transaction data to the regulator – approved by one of these bodies before applying for a licence. The full gaming system must then be approved within a further four months.
Among the organisations receiving the regulator’s approval are NMi and the European arm of Gaming Laboratories International (GLI). At GLI, managing director Phillip Barow said it would “take products previously approved for Italy, France, Alderney and other highly regulated markets and quickly and inexpensively certify those same products for Spain”.
The application process for e-gaming licences begins on 16 November.
British policy-makers need more knowledge about problem gambling if they are to tackle it effectively, according to the country’s Responsible Gambling Fund (RGF). In a new report, Map the Gap, it says there is not enough evidence about the value of treatments for different kinds of problem gamblers – for example, women, young people, and those who are also affected by substance misuse.
“Evaluation of self-exclusion programmes show promising results, but do not provide robust evidence of their effectiveness. There is even less evidence on the effectiveness of self-limitation strategies, and problem gamblers are least likely of all gamblers to impose limits on their playing,” said the RGF.
There is also no research into the prevalence of problem gambling in the armed forces or the homeless population, and inadequate knowledge of the effectiveness of education and prevention as well as the role of electronic gaming machines, according to the RGF, which believes the conclusions of foreign studies may not always be applicable to Britain. Regulators and researchers need to work more closely together, it contends.
The American Gaming Association (AGA) has issued a white paper with proposals for streamlining gaming regulations. Major recommendations, intended to reduce the cost of red tape, include a minimum five-year term for all licences; more use of uniform licence applications; and exemption from licensing and registration requirements for institutional investors that own less than 25 percent of an operator.
“Our next step is education. We’re going to be sharing the white paper with regulators, law-makers and members of the broader gaming industry,” said AGA president and CEO Frank J. Fahrenkopf.
Meanwhile, a congressional committee has heard evidence that regulating online gaming would create jobs and government revenue while safeguarding consumers. “People are playing poker on the Internet in the U.S. for money today,” Joe Barton, a Republican congressman from Texas, told the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trades. “It’s not regulated and so these sites are offshore, overseas and, consequently, outside the ability for us to tax the winnings and make sure it’s a fair game.”
“By controlling online gambling the federal government could minimise the harm that this activity can inflict on the young and their families and could also make the use of these sites safer for them,” said Dan Romer, an academic who has studied gaming among young people.
There have been a number of legislative attempts to introduce regulated online gaming in the U.S. recently, although none has yet made it into law.
The latest high-profile name to support the idea is Donald Trump; the property tycoon and casino owner said he would set up an online gaming business if it were legalised.
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