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Global gambling legislation news – week ending June 30

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BETTING Planet’s weekly column brings you the latest news updates from around the world regarding gambling changes. We source the best information from a variety of outlets and condense them into a single post so you can catch up quickly and conveniently. If you have any information regarding online or land-based gambling changes, contact us at [email protected] or leave a comment below.

There has been some big news around the world this week with China finally sentencing the detained Crown Resorts staff and associates, while New Zealand has reported its casinos are the best in terms of responsible gambling. Across the ocean, the UK is cracking down on a loophole licensed operators may be exploiting, and a Kenyan betting company has pulled its sports sponsorships. Find out more below.

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Australian casino employees plead guilty in China

On Monday, the 19 Crown Resorts current and former employees faced a panel of three judges in China, where they plead guilty to the promotion of gambling offences. The three junior staff released on bail were not sentenced to prison or required to pay a fine. The total cost for Crown is $AUD1.7 million in fines, and 11 of the 16 received a prison sentence with time already served included. The three Australians caught up in the ordeal received between nine to 10 months in jail. They will be released in the coming months.

South Australia’s point of consumption tax will be enforced on Saturday and its effectiveness will be closely monitored by other Australian states. The 15 percent tax on bookmakers’ net wagering revenue may be picked up by New South Wales (NSW) and Victoria, with Racing NSW chief executive Peter V’Landys suggesting a “wait and see” approach.

New Zealand government tests casinos, pubs, and clubs

New Zealand’s Department of Internal Affairs has performed a “mystery shopper” exercise by sending individuals to the country’s casinos and 120 pubs and clubs. SKYCITY’s four casinos in Auckland, Hamilton, and Queenstown have all come out on top. Mystery shoppers were required to display signs of problem gambling and according to the results, the staff of the four SKYCITY casinos picked up on the behaviour and intervened.

An American state is closer to legalised sports betting

New Jersey is one step closer to legalising sports betting this week after the Supreme Court agreed to hear the state’s case. The hearing is set for October where the issue of whether Congress can prevent individual states from legalising sports betting will be debated in relation to current law under the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA).

From July 1, Nevada will legally be allowed to sell marijuana, after Nevada residents voted for the change late last year. While medical marijuana facilities will open in Las Vegas, they are prohibited from the strip – but they will be located only a few streets away. Smoking the substance is only legal in a private residence and according to the Nevada Gaming Commission, if casino operators aren’t careful in terms of keeping it off casino floors, they could risk their license.

Meanwhile, in Illinois, an online gambling bill awaiting approval is in limbo as the House Executive Committee failed to debate House Bill 479. The bill passed the state Senate earlier this month. The Committee was meant to debate the bill on Saturday, which would legalise online casino, poker and daily fantasy gambling but rescheduled until Tuesday, and then again on Wednesday. The hearing came and went without a debate or vote. It’s not clear when it will be addressed.

Japan may use “My Number” card system at casinos

The regulation of casinos is well under way in Japan but local reports feared the government may ban locals from entering the casinos. Details have now emerged revealing a limit on the number of visits may be enforced instead. Japanese authorities may use the recent identity card system to monitor how many times a Japanese citizen visits a casino to enforce the rule. The “My Number” identity card system was introduced last year, where all Japanese citizens, as well as foreign residents who have lived in the country for over three months, are assigned a 12-digit number.

While Japan is in the midst of legalising casino gambling it seems there has been an underground operation running for some time now. Japanese police busted the longest-running illegal gambling den on Monday and seized ¥9 million in cash, plus five unauthorised baccarat tables. Authorities found a further ¥200 million during property raids.

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Malta Gaming Authority suspends gambling site allegedly linked to mafia

The Malta Gaming Authority has been busy recently, with the regulator suspending an online gambling site due to links to the Italian mafia. Italian authorities working the case are reportedly claiming the MGA has been slow to respond to letters to assist the case, however. The online gambling operation, Bet1128, reportedly has links to the ‘Ndrangheta – an organised crime syndicate in Southwest Italy.

The MGA also released its Annual Report and Financial Statements for the year ending December 31st, 2016, this week. The report revealed the gaming industry contributed more than €1 billion to the country’s economy in 2016 and created over 9000 jobs. The figures reflect the claims from the above case that Malta is an ideal licensing gambling jurisdiction due to the low tax rate – a high number of gaming operators are licensed here. Unfortunately, crime groups including the mafia use the country as a base for tax evasion.

Indian state clarifies nature of rummy

The Indian state, Maharashtra, has recently determined the game of rummy is skill-based, instead of a gambling game. During a court case over a businessman reportedly allowing card games to be played at his premises before being raided by police, the Bombay High Court clarified rummy is not a gambling game. The businessman was acquitted of all charges too.

Philippines regulator losing money due to attack

Resorts World Manilla’s casino complex is still not open to the public since the tragic attack. On June 2, an alleged problem gambler stormed into the casino and set fire to the gambling tables, leaving 37 dead. It has been reported the offender had a gambling problem. As a result, the Philippines Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) suspended the casino’s operations while police investigate. PAGCOR will likely face significant losses as a result.

UK Gambling Commission cracks down on grey markets

The UK Gambling Commission is using its powers to close loopholes licensees may be exploiting. This includes the ability for UK-licensed operators to have subsidiary operations in “grey markets” (where the legality of online gambling is not clear cut) as the parent company does not have to report its revenue unless it makes up at least three percent of their total revenue or 10% if total revenues from all groups are less than £5 million. But the UK Gambling Commission has proposed new changes where all revenue has to be reported, likely resulting in operators withdrawing from these “grey markets”. The changes will come into effect in 2018.

Following these changes, the UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) announced it is teaming up with the Gambling Commission to investigate a number of online gambling operators which have allegedly been breaching consumer law. The operators are suspected of not treating players fairly when it comes to sign-up bonuses.

Kenya bookmaker pulls sports sponsorships

After President Uhuru Kenyatta recommended a 35 percent uniform tax hike for betting and gambling operators, the tax hike was added to the Finance Bill 2017 and signed into law. Now Kenyan bookmaker, Sportpesa has announced it will be pulling local sports sponsorships, including deals with the Kenyan Premier League, in 2018.