The count-down to Christmas is on, and while lawmakers all around the world are gearing up for the holidays, there’s plenty still happening when it comes to the global gambling industry.
Our weekly column looks at what’s happening in different parts of the world, comparing the various legislative processes for online and offline gambling.
If you think we have missed an important news story, send us an email at [email protected] or leave a comment at the bottom of the page.
There has been a lot happening in Australia this week with bookmakers fighting taxes, and poker machine players receiving new restrictions.
The sports betting case commenced in the US this week, while New Zealand has weighed in on the loot boxes fiasco. Brazil has also managed to delay its online gambling bill again. Find out more below.
Australian bookmakers fight back against taxes
Australian online bookmakers are lobbying the Victorian government to lower the rate of a planned point of consumption tax.
The Aussie state is the latest to consider introducing the POC tax, which the government estimates will earn it $130 million, but bookies are calling for a lower rate than 15 percent. A similar tax has already been introduced in South Australia and will come into effect in Western Australia in 2019.
Poker machine players in Tasmania will no longer be able to drink a beer while pulling the reels after the Tasmanian Liquor and Gaming Commission released its final copy of the Responsible Gambling Mandatory Code of Practice for Tasmania. The report states the commission will change the code to ban alcohol service to poker machine players during daylight hours, as well as cap EFTPOS withdrawal limits to $100, jackpots to $25,000 and cashing cheques at licensed premises.
Ladbrokes Australia lost its appeal to overturn the legal decision the company breached advertising rules. Earlier this year, the online betting site was fined $35,000, plus $50,000 in legal costs, for breaching the New South Wales Betting and Racing Regulation 2012. The betting site published ads in local newspapers and on YouTube, which the court said encouraged punters to bet. The NSW District Court upheld the previous judgement that it breached the advertising standards in place.
There’s plenty more gambling news happening in Australia, which you can check out here.
Sports betting trial commences
This week, the Supreme Court of the United States commenced the New Jersey sports betting case, which aims to repeal the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) 1992. While several justices sided with New Jersey, questioning whether the act is unconstitutional, others pointed out that it’s how federal law works. NJ Governor Chris Christie spoke outside of Court on Monday and said the state could get legalised sports betting within two weeks of a favourable decision.
Just days after the trial commenced, the International Centre for Sport Security launched a sports integrity hotline in the US and Canada. The hotline is available to athletes, sports fans, team personnel, and the general public to anonymously report suspicious behaviour. The ICSS hotline will be available 24/7, and analysts will investigate any tips or complaints, sharing information with authorities if necessary.
New Jersey residents could soon be able to play at offshore online casinos due to a new online gambling bill. Senator Raymond Lesniak introduced the bill, which removes the requirement need to have a physical presence in New Jersey. Due to his retirement, the bill only had until January 9 to pass.
UK operators warned about gambling advertising
The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) is continuing its crackdown on online gambling operators, with Broadway Gaming the latest to face the consequences. The UK online gambling operator has to pay a £100k fine for publishing misleading bonus offers on five different websites. Broadway Gaming received a fine in 2016 for failing to communicate clear terms and conditions, which resulted in the discovery of similar incidents.
Following the fine, Minister for Sport, Tourism & Heritage, Tracey Crouch, warned industry operators to “take a hard look at what you’re producing” when promoting gambling at GambleAware’s annual Harm-Minimisation Conference. Although the government’s triennial review did not result in any new advertising restrictions (lack of evidence supporting it increases problem gambling rates), Crouch said that gambling advertising is “very unpopular” with the general public”, and operators should not “push the boundaries” when it comes to responsible marketing. She also added that it was the last chance for operators to start paying the recommended 0.1 percent revenue contribution to GambleAware.
New Zealand weighs in on loot boxes
Concerned parents in New Zealand are calling for a restriction on loot boxes in video games due to their similarities to gambling. While New Zealand’s Gambling Compliance Body is reviewing whether randomised in-app purchases meet the definition of gambling in the country, local media reports are predicting the regulator won’t end up banning them from video games. The Problem Gambling Foundation Marketing and Communications Director, Andree Froude, said that since a lot of the games are made overseas, it would be difficult to regulate, which Australia’s gambling regulators have previously said.
Court rejects online poker petition in Indian state
The Gujarat High Court has refused to legalise online poker, following a petition to have it classed as a game of skill. The petition came about after authorities raided several poker clubs in the state and prompted a court trial featuring arguments for and against legalising poker in the state. After a court delay, Justice Rajesh H. Shukla finally ruled that the game could not be legalised. He said there was not enough evidence to state that the game was not based on luck, and follows a similar ruling in the state of Telangana in November. It’s not clear how PokerStars entry into the Indian market will be affected by the ruling, but it may be limited to the state of Nagaland where online poker and rummy are legal.
Brazil’s gambling bill faces delays again
Brazil’s Constitutionality and Justice Committee (CCJ) was meant to vote on the Senate’s online gambling bill, which has faced regular delays, this week. However, several Senators entered new amendments, including the requirement gambling operators enter into partnerships with local companies, as well as a uniform 30 percent tax on all forms of gambling. While neither of the amendments passed, they delayed the vote to legalise online gambling in the country. An amendment that did pass includes a ban on slots and video bingo machines outside of land-based casinos. While the CCJ plans to vote on the revised bill next week, it could face more delays.
Report reveals Portuguese still gamble at offshore sites
A Remote Gambling Association (RGA) report has revealed that 68 percent of Portuguese online gamblers play at offshore gambling sites. The Southern European country regulated online gambling in 2015, allowing international operators to apply for licenses. While the government handed out the first online gambling licenses in 2016, many international operators are hesitant to enter the market due to the high taxes leaving limited options for Portugal’s gamblers. The RGA’s report states that the regulatory framework failed to alleviate illegal online gambling, with 38 percent of Portuguese gambling at unlicensed websites, and 30 percent gambling at both offshore sites and licenses gaming operations.