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Global gambling legislation news – Week ending June 16

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Our global gambling legislation column runs on a weekly basis, providing our readers with the latest information from around the world. We cover land-based and online gambling movements including legislative changes. You can follow each week and leave a comment below or send us your thoughts at [email protected]

There is a lot of fighting to save online gambling going on in the world this week with an Australian Senator successfully gaining an inquiry to save online poker and a new Coalition formed in America to repeal the sports betting ban. In the Philippines, Resorts World Manila casino operations have been suspended following the deadly attack last week, and in Canada, a group of nine have been arrested for allegedly laundering millions through local casinos. More below.

Online poker may be saved by committee inquiry

As the impending legislation to make online casino gambling illegal in Australia awaits approval by the House of Representatives, one Senator is fighting to keep online poker alive. Senator David Leyonhjelm has successfully gained a committee inquiry to get legislators to review the nature of online poker. Since the game is often referred to as a skill-based game, it may have a fighting chance.

The Crown employees detained in China since last October have been formally charged with promoting gambling offences. Around 19 staff and associates were arrested after they visited mainland China, where it is illegal to gamble, with three junior staff released on bail. It is understood all will face the charges. However, reports have emerged one or two of the employees could be charged with money laundering offences as he was found with tens of millions of RMB in a Chinese bank account.

New American organisation to repeal sports betting ban

This week, the American Gaming Association announced the formation of the The American Sports Betting Coalition which will help fight the 25-year-old sports betting ban in the country.
The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) prohibits sports betting everywhere in America, except the state of Nevada. The Coalition will work to repeal the legislation.

Caesars has been forced to pull the plug on its skill-based gaming experiment in New Jersey. Last November, the casino company rolled out video gaming machines at three of its Atlantic City properties but all 21 terminals have been pulled this week as they’ve failed to bring in enough profit to make up for vendor fees.

Meanwhile, in New York, an online poker bill has passed the Senate again. This time last year a similar bill legalising the online activity passed the Senate but was thrown out by the Assembly before it even went up for debate. It may have a better chance this year with Assemblyman J. Gary Pretlow revealing it could be better received. The only problem with this year’s version is the inclusion of a bad actor language where all operators who accepted or facilitated wagers after 2006 when the law was changed may not gain a license. This includes PokerStars.

Philippines casino operations suspended after deadly attack

There has been a lot happening in the Philippines after the tragic attack by a lone gunman at Resorts World Manila left 37 dead. The casino’s operations have been suspended by the Philippines Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) but the casino said it intends to open back up to the public eventually. It has already opened the complex up including the retail component. A PAGCOR spokesperson revealed they would be very strict on security if the casino was allowed to reopen.

Meanwhile, lawmakers are reportedly mulling over legislation which would implement a nationwide casino entry fee in order to deter problem gamblers. The proposal is reportedly in response to the shooter who set gaming tables alight as his attack was reportedly a result of gambling debt.

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Canadian casinos caught up in money laundering gang

Casino operators in the Canadian province of British Columbia are concerned at how a gang of nine managed to launder millions at the local venues. The group have been arrested and the investigation is ongoing.

It’s not all doom and gloom for the Canadian casino industry. A new casino has been announced as an addition to the entertainment complex in Sudbury. Gateway Casinos has signed a letter of intent to add the venue in the Ontario region with reports it could inject $60 million into the local economy.

Macau introduces new legislation to crack down on money laundering

Money laundering is an issue for casino central destinations, including Macau. In a bid to clamp down on its prominence in the autonomous region, legislators have passed a currency declaration scheme which will apply to those visiting and leaving the city. From November 1, travellers will have to declare to the Macau Customs Service any cash or other “negotiable monetary instruments” they may be holding worth MOP120,000 or more.

Japan closer to regulated casino industry

Japan is one step closer to a fully regulated casino industry after several proposals for the Integrated Resorts (IR) Implementation Bill were approved this week. On Tuesday, the Experts’ Committee held a meeting at Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s official residence. Here, a ‘Casino Management Board’ was decided on. Another proposal reportedly suggested “there would be only a single, tightly secured casino,” which would only take up three percent of each IRs. Slots and table games will reportedly be offered while sports betting and online gaming will be prohibited. They also considered banning ATMs and credit cards – requiring players to purchase chips with cash – to combat problem gambling. The Experts’ Committee is set to deal with money laundering policies at the next meeting.

UK police celebrate drop in gambling ads on torrent sites

UK authorities are celebrating after online gambling operators agreed not to advertise on torrent sites. The City of London Police’s Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) revealed there had been an 87% decline over the past year in the number of gambling ads by UK operators on “illegal sites that infringe copyright” such as TV shows, movies, etc. The drop comes after the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) informed its licensees of a new requirement in terms of taking “responsibility for preventing digital adverts advertising their brand”… “on websites providing access to unauthorised content.” It took effect last October.

The UK’s tax on remote gambling operations court case has failed in the Court of Justice for the EU (CJEU). In 2014 a new gambling tax regime was introduced under the Finance Act and required remote gambling operations to pay a 15 percent tax on UK customers. But the Gibraltar Betting and Gaming Association (GBGA) argued the tax charge breached UK law and was unfair to non-UK bookmakers. The (CJEU) ruled it is not an independent tax jurisdiction, but made sure to note it did not mean Gibraltar was a part of the UK.

Belgium tightens gambling advertisement regulations

Belgium is following in the legislative footsteps of Australia after the country’s Justice Minister Koen Geens called for tighter restrictions on gambling advertising in the country. Proposed measures – supported by the Belgium Gaming Commission (BGC) – would see gambling ads banned on TV up until 8 pm and the complete prohibition of any gaming advertisements during live sporting events. BGC officials have also said they will remove any gambling advertisements deemed to be promoting ‘excessive’ gambling activity – a clear definition of what this consists of is yet to be confirmed.

Russia’s first legal bookmaker

Sportsbook operator Bwin has revealed it will be launching an online betting platform in Russia. It will be an international operator’s first legal entry into the Russian sports betting market. Russie is considered to be one of the most tightly regulated markets in Europe and Bwin operations were among the many domains blacklisted by the country’s regulator, Roskomnadzor, in 2015.

Kenya reintroduced uniform tax hike

Just as we thought the Kenyan gambling industry was safe, the president has proposed a 35 percent uniform tax rate. The 50 percent tax rate for Kenyan bookmakers, gambling, lottery and competition operators was deleted from the Finance Bill, which was then approved by parliament last week. But the president has rejected the lack of tax and recommended imposing a uniform 35 percent tax rate on all gambling and betting operators.