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WELCOME back to our weekly column on gambling changes from around the world. We take a look at what’s happening online and at land-based gambling venues in different parts of the world to keep you up to date.
If you have any questions, or a news story of your own, send an email to [email protected] or leave a comment at the bottom of the page.
There’s a lot going on this week with some jurisdictions clamping down on gambling activity, while others look to expand. New gambling reforms prohibiting offshore providers have come into effect this week in Australia, while Cambodia is looking to attract international operators. Some US states are looking to legalise online gambling, though the process is a slow one. Meanwhile, Colombia is expanding its online gambling industry. Read on to find out more.
Australians could get a regulated online poker industry
The Interactive Gambling Amendment Act 2016 came into effect this week, and the final operators to exit blocked Australians from accessing their games. While offshore operators are targeted under the new reforms, some remain in the market as it is not technically illegal for Australians to gamble online. Aussies are advised to do their research and be safe when it comes to available online gambling sites.
But online poker may become regulated in the near future after a Senator announced that the government is considering legalising the online skill-based game. Senator David Leyonhjlem, who has been leading the Senate inquiry into online poker in Australia, revealed Communications Minister, Mitch Fifield, wrote to him to say his department would look into the possibility of a regulated online poker industry.
Meanwhile, a landmark court case involving Australian land-based casino Crown Resorts, slot machine manufacturer Aristocrat and a former poker machine addict has commenced this week. Shonica Guy is claiming the slot Dolphin Treasure, available in the Melbourne casino, is misleading as the symbol combinations and odds are not made clear to players. Counsel for Crown has argued that its basic common sense that the symbol combination is designed to impact winnings. The trial runs for three weeks before a decision will be handed down.
US states consider online gambling
Around five million residents in Florida are without power following the devastating Hurricane Irma but land-based casinos in the state are offering a refuge from the sweltering heat. Some of the states casinos, spared from the impacts of the Category 4 storm, have reopened with air conditioning, offering a respite for many residents. Unfortunately, the Mardi Gras Casino and the Miami Gardens’ Calder Casino didn’t hold up too well and remain closed due to damage.
The Pennsylvanian House of Representatives finally passed its budget this week, but online gambling hasn’t been included. Despite a previous draft budget including online gambling to address a gap in the budget, the new package is vague when it comes to the inclusion of online gambling. Instead, it plans to fix Pennsylvania’s severe billion dollar budget deficit by sourcing money from a variety of other areas, including public projects. The gambling expansion is likely video gaming terminals (VGTs) in bars and restaurants, even though the plan is not supported by the Senate. Once both the Senate and House of Representatives agree on a budget plan, they will then vote on what the gambling expansion means.
Meanwhile, a Senator in the state of Michigan has introduced an online gambling bill. Senator Mike Kowall, who already introduced an unsuccessful bill which proposed a legal online poker and casino game industry last year, is trying again this year. This time around, the bill includes a 15 percent tax on online gambling revenue, as well as a $USD200,000 licensing fee for five years, with an additional $100,000 to be paid for every year that passes.
Italy to expand online gambling industry
Italy is looking into expanding its online casino industry by opening applications to potential operators. The announcement has been a long time coming given the government planned the expansion in 2015. While information is limited, applications will be open from September 18 to 25, with 120 gaming licenses up for grabs. Applicants have two months to be prepared and will have to pay 200 million euros per license which will be active until 2022.
The Republic of Georgia cracks down on online gambling
The Eastern European country has announced plans to ban online gambling this week. While the Ministry of Finance is reportedly looking to introduce a bill which will prohibit all forms of gambling, some politicians are unhappy about it including Deputy Finance Minister, Lasha Khutsishvili. Khutsishvili said banning online gambling doesn’t work and added that the international practice is ineffective.
UK FOBTs review to cost bookmakers £150m annually
The UK Gambling Commission is raising awareness when it comes to students and gambling. The UKGC Executive Director for research, Tim Miller, revealed that two in three university students in the UK gamble and while many do it without experiencing harm it can lead to issues like debt, poor attendance and long-term problems. The UK gambling regulator has published tips for students in relation to responsible gambling on its website.
Meanwhile, the impending Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs) review could cost UK bookmakers £150m annually, according to the Financial Times. The review is expected in the coming months and while many are calling for the maximum stakes to be reduced from from £100 to £2, a compromise of £30 is reportedly being considered. Still, betting companies such as William Hill, will lose millions.
Colombia grants second gambling licence
Colombia is in the process of regulating its online gambling industry, with the country’s regulator, Coljuegos, granting its second online gambling licence this week. The lottery and chance games operator, Corredor Empresarial S.A, received the five-year license which will allow the firm to operate sports betting, slot machines, roulette and other gambling games at Betplay.com.co. The first license went to Sportium, which is a joint venture between UK bookmaker, Ladbrokes, and Spanish gaming operator, Cirsa.
Cambodia to expand gambling industry
Cambodia is reportedly in the process of finalising a draft version of a new gambling law. The reforms, set to be reviewed by cabinet members at the end of the month, will allow Cambodia to open up its online gambling industry to international operators. To compete with Singapore, the draft law reportedly keeps tax rates low for international operators. The Cambodian government is hoping to increase tourism and foreign investment through the new law.
Czech Republic to introduce receipt lottery
The Czech Republic will release a new receipt lottery by October to fight tax evasion. The new electronic system will see receipts given to players who purchase lottery tickets, with players eligible to register via a mobile app or website. Players are limited to one receipt per day to limit the chance of illicit purchases. According to the Ministry of Finance, Ivan Pilný, the scheme has been created to tackle tax evasion and benefits should exceed operational expenses.