Global Glance: Malta Consolidates, Gibraltar Listens
The weekly Global Glance looks at the online poker scene around the world. What happens with online poker and gambling beyond America’s borders can and often does impact the state of online poker in the United States.
The latest news in the gambling industry is all centered in Europe. Malta aims to consolidate and simplify its gambling laws, while Gibraltar received some guidance from the UK regarding the impending Brexit. And while Sweden readies its country for a licensed online gambling market, Austria and Hungary take the opposite position and try to close their markets to outsiders.
Malta to Simplify Gambling Laws
A new piece of legislation is now before the Maltese Parliament for consideration. It will combine all existing gambling rules into one single law called the Gaming Act.
The main purpose behind the legislation is to reduce the red tape that sometimes keeps gambling companies from being able to work with the Malta Gaming Authority regarding regulatory issues. Instead of several tiers of licenses, operators will be able regulated via a business-to-consumer license and/or a business-to-business license. And the latter will be exempted from gaming taxes, making it more lucrative for gambling entities. The bill will also integrate the MGA’s Player Support Unit to better handle responsible gambling support.
MGA Executive Chairman Joseph Cuschieri noted the important milestone: “This bill contains draft proposals which aim to bridge the regulatory gap between various gaming verticals and channels, including new technologies serving as a platform to future proof gaming regulation, whilst ensuring that customers enjoy a consistent level of protection.”
Hon. Parliamentary Secretary @SilvioSchembri and MGA's Exec Chairman @Joecuschieri announce that New Gaming Bill will be tabled in Maltese Parliament. Read more: https://t.co/sExnzHHnng pic.twitter.com/qOsWq87SOr
— MaltaGamingAuthority (@MaltaGamingAuth) March 13, 2018
UK Gives Guidance to Gibraltar
Since the Brexit vote in June 2016 when the UK received public support to leave the European Union, the potential fallout has been the topic of speculation throughout the world. Gibraltar is one place that took a special interest in the results because it is a British territory, and the online gambling community watched closely due to its strong presence on the island.
The UK government did finally address the issue as it figures out how Brexit will work. Gibraltar was told that its financial services community will have guaranteed access to UK markets until 2020, and lawmakers will work with the government of Gibraltar to develop a “replacement framework” for business beyond 2022.
Since the European Court of Justice ruled in 2017 that Gibraltar is only in the European Union because of the UK, it will not be exempt from Brexit and must leave the EU at the same time.
Gambling companies will need to make a decision as to whether they will remain on Gibraltar or relocate to somewhere else in the EU.
Post-Brexit UK financial markets 'offer' for Gibraltar https://t.co/MPc0bzhOQ4
— BBC Politics (@BBCPolitics) March 8, 2018
Sweden Faces New Gaming Law Effective Date
The new Swedish gambling market will open up to non-Swedish operators when the new gambling law goes into effect on January 1, 2019.
As reported several weeks ago, Swedish regulator Lotteriinspektionen unveiled 2017 revenue numbers showing the percentage of the unregulated market was up 13% from the previous year and worth SEK5.5 billion (approximately $666 million). The law will offer licenses to operators, and the application process is scheduled to begin July 1, 2017.
The state-run monopoly may continue to be run by the government, but some in Sweden are not keen on that idea. The Moderate Party wants to privatize Svenska Spel to remove any conflict of interest for the government regulating the entire industry to also regulate its own operator. Others want Svenska Spel dissolved altogether.
— Focus Gaming News (@FocusGamingNews) March 15, 2018
Austria to Strengthen Gambling Monopoly
Speaking of a market dominated by unlicensed gambling operators, Austria is tackling its situation with a very different solution. It wants to strengthen its Casinos Austria Group gambling monopoly, especially in light of the fact that unlicensed operators comprise approximately 60% of the market.
The Ministry of Finance will be introducing a proposal to amend the Gambling Act to prevent other operators from entering the market at all, a move that is expected to strengthen its monopoly and discourage others from offering gambling services to Austrians.
However, the Austrian Association for Betting and Gambling opposes the move and urges the government to consider a licensing regime to increase the overall market and protect players. Meanwhile, the group estimates the new proposal will risk nearly 1,000 jobs and €50 million of sponsorship and marketing expenses on an annual basis.
— Focus Gaming News (@FocusGamingNews) March 16, 2018
Hungary Proceeds with Gambling Laws Despite EU Opposition
The European Union has long tried to enforce an online gambling framework that embraces the cross-border principles of the EU. However, many countries have fought to close off their gambling markets and ignore all advice from the EU and the European Court of Justice. Hungary is doing just that.
Flushdraw has been monitoring the ongoing saga of Hungary’s online gambling decisions and reports that the country’s Ministry of Justice plans to openly defy the latest European Court ruling. The court’s decision pertains to the Hungarian law regarding online gaming licenses only being awarded to operators that also have land-based establishments in the country.
Hungary is defying the EU with regard to Sporting Odds, an online sports betting website aimed at Hungarian customers but not paying taxes to the Hungarian government. As Flushdraw pointed out, the site is being blacklisted by internet service providers despite the fact that there is no licensing regime set up for such operators to paid said taxes. And in doing so, the Minister of Justice issued a statement about the “uncontrolled and mostly illegal gaming industry” to justify the blacklisting. “The Hungarian State continues to use all available criminal and administrative law instruments against gambling organizers who illegal engage in such activities without a valid license and thus cause a significant loss of revenue to the Hungarian budget.”
Hungary Defies EU Ruling in Online-Gambling Licensing Fracashttps://t.co/x3Y8zOFKhc
— Flushdraw (@FlushdrawPoker) March 15, 2018