Italy Proposes Pinball, France Grows Online Poker

Italy Proposes Pinball, France Grows Online Poker

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.

News regarding online poker and gaming beyond the borders of the United States has been a bit scarcer than usual in August, but there are some important pieces to share. Italy, for example, is still being criticized for its new gambling ad ban, and the government is now considering replacing gambling machines with pinball. France, on the other hand, is proving that its approach to online gambling is benefiting the government and online poker businesses. Sweden is seeing more interest in its new legal framework, and the Dutch are ready to reconsider their processes.

Italian Gambling Ban Approved and Slammed

The last time we checked in with Italy, many gambling organizations were criticizing the new gambling ad ban put in place by new Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio as part of his Dignity Decree. The European Gaming and Betting Association and LOGiCO were the latest to join the chorus of complaints.

Even so, the Italian Parliament passed the proposal that will go into effect in January 2019 to ban advertisements and sponsorships related to all forms of gambling. The final vote saw 155 voting yes and 125 voting no.

The government then took another step and removed the head of Agenzia Dogane Monopoli (ADM), the Italian gambling regulator, from his position. Giovanni Kessler was outraged by the move, referring to it as “political cleansing” and noting that it jeopardizes impartiality for the industry. “I was reset by the government as head of the ADM on the basis of a real or alleged party membership,” he said.

Those latest moves prompted Paddy Power Betfair to even consider leaving the Italian gambling market altogether, saying a lack of advertising will prevent the company from growing.

Further, Maio has proposed a solution to replace all video gaming machines and sports betting kiosks. He wants to replace all video gaming machines and sports betting kiosks with pinball machines, the old-fashioned mechanical pinball stands with coins, steel balls, and flippers. “Pinballs have never ruined anyone,” he said.

French Online Poker Market Grows

Meanwhile, in France, where the country has embraced online gambling and made efforts to grow the market, it is working. Gambling regulator ARJEL’s second quarter report for 2018 showed increased revenue for online poker for the sixth quarter in a row.

Since ARJEL has agreed to share online poker liquidity with Spain and Portugal, and since the network launched earlier in 2018, players have responded favorably. Companies like PokerStars have shown increased revenues from the new European shared market, and France is collecting more revenue.

According to ARJEL, online poker revenue was €129 million in the first half of 2018, a 6% increase from the previous year. Cash game revenue alone was up 14%, with tournaments up 12%.

Sweden Shows Its Potential

This summer, Sweden opened its online gambling market to accept applications for licenses from international companies, breaking its monopolistic tradition and showing a willingness to expand the industry. Regulator Lotteriinspektionen reported 22 companies submitting applications as soon as the process began, all hoping to be a part of the new market set to launch in January 2019.

Several more gaming operators have since submitted licenses, and the regulator anticipates as many as 70 before the end of 2018. The antiquated system that is being phased out generated approximately $1.8 billion in 2017, but that number missed out on more than $600 million in additional money collected by unregulated operators, those accessing the market without licenses. And players patronized those sites because of so little choice in their state-run market.

Sweden hopes that it will capture the vast majority of all online gaming revenue by allowing so many operators into the market. The country will also benefit from licensing fees and be able to better regulate the entire industry as it caters to Swedish customers.

Netherlands to Try Gaming Regulation Again

For two years, the Dutch government has tried to revise its gambling laws via the Remote Online Gambling Bill, but legislators can never agree on the details. In order to kickstart the process again, amendments are being considered.

The Minister for Legal Protection has been pushing for a licensed system that would allow out-of-state gambling operators to apply for licenses, and that proposal will be considered again in September. The Committee of Justice and Security has decided to put it up for debate again, possibly in light of countries like Sweden that are finding ways to make such a regulated system work.

About Jennifer Newell

Jennifer began writing about poker while working at the World Poker Tour in the mid-2000s. Since then, her freelance writing career has taken her from Los Angeles to Las Vegas and back to her hometown of St. Louis, where she now lives with her two dogs. She continues to follow the poker world as she also launches a new subscription box company and finishes her first novel. Jennifer has written for numerous publications including PokerStars.com and has followed the US poker and gaming market closely for the last 15 years. Follow Jen on Twitter

Disclaimer: The information on this site is my interpretation of the laws as made available online. It is in no way meant to serve as legal advice or instruction. We recommend that you seek legal advice from a licensed attorney for further or official guidance.

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