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Is it legal?
Published:  03 May, 2012

Every month Euroslot updates you on the latest news affecting gaming policy and regulation around the world.

EUROPE

The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) has ruled on a British case concerning copyright protection for football fixture lists.

Providers of lists had taken a number of companies, including the bookmaker Stan James, to court over what they argued was unauthorised use.

But the CJEU said that while the structure of a database such as that containing fixtures might be subject to copyright, the contents would not be unless they were the result of “intellectual creation” that “expressed originality”. It therefore seems unlikely that national courts, which will have to interpret the CJEU’s findings, will consider fixture lists copyrightable.

Tony Ballard, an intellectual property specialist at London law firm Harbottle & Lewis, said: “It is pretty clear that the bar has been set high and that football fixture lists are unlikely to qualify. Those who compile these lists, and other lists like them such as programme schedules, will find it difficult to control or charge fees to those who use the data to provide news and information in print or online or, as in the present case, to organise betting activities.”

Added Clive Hawkswood, chief executive of the Remote Gambling Association: “We hope that this will finally put an end to attempts by sporting organisations to extract significant funds from media and betting organisations using the threat of intellectual property infringement.”

EUROPE

The Westminster eForum Keynote Seminar held in London on 14 June will examine the future of online gambling in Europe. Speakers will include Pamela Brumter-Coret of the European Commission’s directorate-general for the internal market and services, Andrew Beveridge of eCogra, Henrietta Bowden-Jones of the National Problem Gambling Clinic, Clive Hawkswood of the Remote Gambling Association, and Peter Reynolds of Bwin.party.

GREECE

As we went to press, the Greek government’s Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund was understood to be poised to initiate the process of selling a 29 percent stake in OPAP, the partially state-owned gaming operator. The sell-off is part of a €50bn divestiture of state assets, intended to tackle the country’s economic problems.

The government has also amended its gaming law to confirm the administrative and financial independence of the new Hellenic Gaming Commission.

GREECE

Greece’s Hellenic Gaming Commission has issued detailed technical standards for video lottery terminals (VLTs) in an 84-page document which covers issues ranging from TITO and the random number generator to security, central server operations, and reporting requirements.

Among the key rules are:

• “Each game shall theoretically payout a minimum of 80 percent during the expected lifetime of the game (i.e. progressives, bonus systems, merchandise, etc. shall not be included in the percentage payout if they are external to the game).”

• “A player shall not be exposed to the risk of losing at any one time credits of a total value exceeding €2.”

• “A limit shall apply to the maximum amount that can be won in any game element for non-progressive games, which shall be €1000, and by any progressive prize for standalone progressive games, which shall be €4000.”

Players will be required to register for cards before they can use gaming devices. Provisions regarding these include:

• “The gaming provider may only register a player for a card if the gaming provider or its agent at the venue is satisfied of the player’s identity, VAT number, place of residence, that the player is at least the legal gambling age of 21, and the person is not an excluded person.”

• However, “the gaming provider or its authorised agent at the gaming venue may register a player for a temporary/visitor card if satisfied that the player is not an excluded player and is at least the legal gambling age for the jurisdiction. Players issued with a temporary/visitor card are not permitted to participate in any player/loyalty reward scheme.”

The card system will also enable the maximum loss of each player to be capped at €500 in a 24-hour period. It appears that this will not be a voluntary limit (although players will also be able to set their own limits on the amount they spend, as in many jurisdictions) but will apply to everyone. Once a 24-hour period’s net loss has reached that figure, the individual will be prevented from playing for a day.

UK

The Gambling Commission has responded to claims by trade body BACTA that it automatically reviews arcade operators’ licences if they open betting shops nearby.

It acknowledged, however, that it was investigating some licensed betting operators “where gross gambling yield from machines overwhelmed that of betting – by a factor of 100 to one in some cases”. The Commission interprets the 2005 Gambling Act as requiring that “holders of general betting standard non-remote operating licences must provide betting [rather than machines] as the primary gambling activity on licensed betting premises”.

BACTA now plans to take the issue to the Parliamentary and Health Ombudsman.

UK

Full coverage of the latest UK Budget and industry reaction to it appears in our news section this month.

U.S.

Online gaming proposals may not reach a vote in the U.S. Congress this year, some fear. An opportunity to append e-gaming regulations to other legislation in February was missed, and political attention is now occupied by the November elections.

It is, however, possible that the “lame duck” session between the election and January 2013, when newly-elected law-makers take their places in Washington, could be an opportunity for a Web poker law to be slipped through. And even if the federal government does not act on e-gaming this year, it is likely that individual states – following Nevada’s lead – may take matters into their own hands.

U.S.

More than 365 regulators from North America and the Caribbean attended the annual roundtable of Gaming Laboratories International (GLI) in Las Vegas. Among the topics discussed were the impacts of technology on regulation; the challenges of  implementing a multi-jurisdictional strategy for Internet-based lottery, bingo, sports betting and casino-style gaming; and “grey area” games.

VIETNAM

The Vietnamese government plans to legalise sports betting, encouraged by the success of Singapore’s new gaming market. The country’s casinos are currently open only to non-nationals, but illegal sports betting is common, and some visit neighbouring Cambodia to bet. European soccer is a popular sport for gamblers.







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