A question of esports sponsorship

By Eliott Cheeseman

Esports are a dream opportunity for betting operators. A slow turnover of titles combined with explosive viewing numbers has led to an increase in the number of sportsbooks offering odds on competitive video games. Many intent on attracting the esports betting crowd see sponsorship as a way of helping them integrate into the general esports scene. As well as being picky about with whom they partner, there are three main areas that betting operators should be aware of when entering the space.

1. Reputation of the event and organiser

One thing that goes for both betting operators and people active in the esports space generally, is the need to perform due diligence around the specific esports event and the event operator behind it.

Ultimately, you want to have a sense of who the event operator is and, if the event’s been run before, whether it was a success. If it wasn’t, why not? Betting operators should also ensure that the event operator has the necessary permissions to operate the event and run it with the given esport.

So, conduct your due diligence: get a feel for the reputation of the event itself and scrutinise the organiser behind it.

2. Activation and execution of sponsorship

Think about the activation and execution of the sponsorship. In the esports space there is a lot of room for creativity.

Betting operators should be asking questions such as: 

  • Is there something unique and exclusive you can offer the consumers of the event?
  • Is there a way to create a unique and exclusive set of gambling lines, or have unique gambling offerings, throughout the event? 
  • Is there a way to heighten the esport itself through the gambling offerings being provided? 

I think the esports gambling market is still in its nascent stage. From a creative aspect, betting operators should be thinking about how best they can execute an engaging sponsorship via the event, and if there is an opportunity to add value to the event via a unique gambling product.

3. Understanding the specific esport

Betting operators need to understand the esport and its nuances and how these could cause issues when trying to set betting odds for each esport. Understanding the history of the esport and any recent controversies associated with it (match fixing, cheating, etc.) is vital. How have any issues been addressed by the developer and/or the event operator that betting operators will be working with? All of these details will help interested parties understand and mitigate the risk associated with sponsoring the event.

The bottom line is to understand the esport, its history and the event operator. Equally, you need to know how they’ve activated with the esport in the past, and how they plan on activating with it in the future. 

Image: Michal Konkol/Riot Games

Eliot Cheeseman is a lawyer with Hall Webber LLP, one of Canada’s leading legal firms to focus on esports. Hall Webber is the official legal counsel for some of Canada’s most significant entertainment events, including the Academy for Canadian Cinema and Television and the Canadian Screen Awards. The content in this article is provided for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice, professional advice or an opinion of any kind. Please consult directly with a lawyer before making any decision about your business.

KY court rejects Flutter bid for new hearing on $870m judgement

The case originated with a claim that PokerStars offered online gambling to 34,000 Kentucky players between October 2006 – when the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) was introduced – and April 2011, when its US operations were shut down by authorities.

Flutter said PokerStars made $18m from Kentucky customers during this time period.

In 2015, then PokerStars operator Amaya was ordered to pay $290m by Franklin Circuit Court Judge Thomas Wingate. This total was then tripled following a request from the state. Amaya later rebranded as The Stars Group and was acquired by Flutter.

Read the full story on iGB North America

German State Treaty cleared for implementation

Approval from the state legislatures mean that 13 of the country’s 16 federal states have now ratified the Glücksspielneuregulierungstaatsvertrag (GlüNeuRStV). It required approval from at least 13 to be implemented by 30 April.

This means just Sachsen-Anhalt – which is to host a new federal regulator – Nordrhein-Westfalen and Saarland are yet to sign off on the legislation. 

The legislation has already been ratified by the state Minister-Presidents, in November 2020.

In Saschen, the GlüNeuRStV passed despite the Alternative für Deutschland party abstaining, and left-leaning parties voting against the bill. 

Under the Treaty, the state is to host a new federal regulatory authority for gambling, that likely to take two years to be fully operational. 

A submission from operator association the Deutscher Sportwettenverband (DSWV) attempted to use the Saschen debate on the GlüNeuRStV to force changes to the rate of taxation being applied to online slots and poker. 

It argued against a planned tax on turnover for these products, saying such a high rate would mean regulated brands would struggle to generate returns from the market, to the ultimate benefit of offshore operators. 

With a 5.3% turnover tax being mooted, the DSWV urged the parliament to make its approval of the Treaty contingent on a fairer tax structure being implemented. It suggested that if a turnover tax was to be levied, it should be no higher than 1%, adding that a more viable rate would be a gross revenue tax of between 15% and 20%. 

However the GlüNeuRStV was passed without any condition being attached. 

Schleswig Holstein, meanwhile, will end its breakaway, liberal regulatory gambling framework in order to join the State Treaty. 

It split from Germany’s other states in 2012, at a time when only online sports betting was to be regulated at federal level, to launch a regime covering online casino, with no limits on licence numbers, and a 20% gross revenue tax. 

While those licences had begun to expire in December 2018, it then renewed the regulations in 2019, while a new federal framework was developed.

The state’s Interior Minister Sabine Sütterlin-Waack said the fact Schleswig-Holstein’s fellow Länder had ultimately opted for a more expansive model in the GlüNeuRStV showed the state was right to go it alone in 2012.

“We are now considered pioneers,” Sütterlin-Waack said. “Our path in gambling has proved to be correct.”

In particular she talked up the player protection measures included in the Treaty.

“I am sure that through the trifecta of partial legalisation of online gambling, strict monitoring and consistent regulation, we will succeed,” she said. “Together with the other states we can steer gambling into orderly and monitored channels and thus fight the black market.”

Unlike the Schleswig-Holstein model, the GlüNeuRStV aims to significantly limit online casino

Slots will be subject to a €1 per spin stake cap, with a five-second average spin speed also mandatory. Table games, meanwhile, must be offered separately, and states will have the option to grant lotteries a monopoly for the product. 

These measures are already in place for operators active in the market through a transitional regime, which began on 15 October, 2020. Operators were given a three-month window to implement the stake cap and spin speeds, provided they had connected to a national self-exclusion database by the beginning of the transition. 

Sports betting, meanwhile, is already underway with 22 licences awarded since October last year.

Zeal sees net profit rocket 359.4% despite revenue decline in 2020

Full-year revenue amounted to €87.0m, down 23.4% from €113.5m in 2019, due to what Zeal said were “expected dis-synergies” related to major changes within its business and operating model.

Zeal discontinued its existing lottery betting business in October 2019, while it also completed the full consolidation of Lotto24, the online lottery brokerage business it acquired in May 2019.

Consolidation of Lotto24 meant that lottery brokerage revenue was up 169.4% to €78.4m, but the sale of the lottery betting division meant Zeal lost all revenue from secondary lottery betting and instant win games, with this having amounted to €79.3m in 2019. Other revenue also jumped 68.6% to €8.6m.

Zeal also noted that billings – the amount wagered by customers – increased by 39.9% year-on-year to €652.8m, in line with initial forecasts published in January.

Another key highlight for Zeal was that it was able to increase the customer base in its core German market by an additional 918,000 players in 2020, despite the impact of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

“In spite of Covid-19, 2020 was a successful year for Zeal Group in every way,” Zeal’s chief executive Helmut Becker said. “This was due to exceptionally good jackpot development, billings rose strongly and with the highest marketing investments in our company history we gained 918,000 new registered customers.

“At the same time, we implemented the targeted cost synergies in the course of the Lotto24 takeover in full in the fourth quarter of 2020, launched a successful new product – the charity lottery ‘freiheit+’ – provided €246m for good causes and thrilled 83 customers with wins of €100,000 or more.”

Turning attention to spending for the year, personnel expenses were reduced by 4.8% to €21.9m, while other operating costs were down 18.4% to €56.3, despite a record marketing spend of €32.2m.

This left Zeal with €12.7m in adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA), down 56.8% on the previous year. However, when taking into account €4.6m in non-recurring profit, this left €17.3m in EBITDA, only slightly down on €17.9m in 2019.

Amortisation and depreciation expenses totalled €12.0m, resulting in €5.4m in earnings before interest and tax, down 40.7% year-on-year, but when including €2.7m in financial income, this pushed pre-tax profit up to €7.9m, compared to €8.3m in 2019.

Zeal received €37,000 in tax benefits, whereas in 2019 it had to pay €6.6m in tax. As such, this meant it ended the year with €7.9m in net profit, some way ahead of €1.7m in the previous year.

“We have delivered on our promises and already fully realised the planned cost synergies in the fourth quarter 2020,” Zeal chief financial officer Jonas Mattsson said.

“At the same time we have grown our business and launched new products. We are delighted that all this is also reflected in our share price performance.”

Looking ahead to 2021, Zeal said it now expects to achieve at least €700.0m in total billings, with revenue forecast to surpass €95.0m and adjusted EBTIDA at least €20.0m.

The Tribal Survey: Honest answers to complex questions

Fill in the Tribal Survey here.

At its core the Tribal Survey is a very timely opportunity for the rest of the world to understand the importance of tribal gaming and the role it plays in the US. Around half of US gaming revenue comes from Native American properties, but it’s still one of the industry’s biggest secrets. 

Equally, for tribal members, I see this as an opportunity to understand the changes that the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic has initiated in the industry. We are emerging from a global pandemic, and there have been a lot of changes in the gaming industry.

victor Rocha

Sports betting has really caught fire, and anything mobile risen in prominence, after the pandemic sped up adoption of new technology. This extends into brick-and-mortar properties; cashless, touchless and digital currency are going to be big deals going forward. 

Therefore the survey will not only highlight changes in the way players consume and engage with tribal venues, but also the products they use do so. 

Recovery from the Covid-19 shut-down will be at the forefront of most tribal operators’ minds – the sector is the most consistent source of jobs and funding for tribes across the US. And while properties are seeing visitors come back, and a broad desire among the public to get back to normal, having an understanding of the products that attract existing customers back – and bring in new players – is crucial.

I’m very interested to see what comes out of the findings. We’ve always seen slot machines as the big revenue generators, but when casinos across the US closed their doors, operators in states such as New Jersey had a digital option, so still had the ability to make money. 

As Covid-19 is still a clear and present threat, it’s very important that we stay on top of these developments. That sort of digital diversification could help offset the impact of another shutdown. 

Of course, this sort of data and research is very valuable in understanding how the industry is viewed, as we approach the National Indian Gaming Association’s (NIGA) Indian Gaming & Tradeshow Convention in July. 

In conclusion, it’s important that everyone’s voice is heard. The Tribal Survey is an opportunity to educate us, both at Pechanga.net and our partners in the venture Clarion Gaming, to let us know what you’re thinking. 

Clarion is a global business that reaches around the world, so Native American operators will have the chance to speak on the world stage – something that we arguably haven’t been afforded enough opportunities to do. 

It’s through engaging in this project that you can help us reach into Indian Country to gather honest answers to complex questions. 

The Tribal Survey is now live – we would like to invite all Native American gaming executives and tribal members to participate.  

APPG calls for inquiry following Football Index scandal

Football Index’s operator BetIndex went into administration earlier this month, following a change in its dividend structure that BetIndex said was necessary to ensure the platform remained sustainable. This dividend change came days after the operator encouraged new investments from players by minting new shares in footballers.

The operator’s collapse has put the funds of many players in doubt. Although the Gambling Commission has received assurances that player account funds would be paid before any other debts, Football Index’s terms and conditions say that funds invested into players on the site are not protected as they are “sums at risk.”

The collapse saw players lose all the money they had invested.

In a letter to the secretary of state, APPG chairs Carolyn Harris MP, Ronnie Cowan MP and Lord Foster of Bath said: “In a regulated sector, when people gamble, they should have the confidence they are doing so on the basis of the outcome of a wager – it should not be a gamble on the solvency or sustainability of the licensed operator.
“We are therefore calling on you to hold an urgent public inquiry into the events which allowed this to happen as well as the conduct and competence of the Gambling Commission.”

Soon after the collapse, the Gambling Commission revealed it had been reviewing the platform for almost a year but had not taken action, partly due to concerns that action it did take would have worsened the business’ financial plight.

Wiggin European regulation round-up: April 2021

Regulated gambling products: Sports betting, horse race betting, poker, casino, bingo and lottery.
Operator type: Licences for sports betting and horse race betting are available for private operators on a regional basis within Austria, whereas poker, casino, bingo and lottery are controlled by the monopoly, Casinos Austria, which has exclusive rights until 2027.
Status: The CJEU has held that the Austrian casino monopoly is incompatible with EU law in a number of cases, although national courts continue to reach conflicting decisions on the compatibility of Austria’s current gambling legislative framework with EU law and the position remains unclear. In February 2021, the Finance Minister of Austria announced a wide-ranging set of proposals to reform gambling in Austria. Proposals include the establishment of a new independent regulator and the introduction of greater player protection measures, such as a national self-exclusion system.

Regulated gambling products: 
Sports betting, horse race betting, poker, casino, bingo and lottery.
Operator type: All products are available to private operators except for lotteries, which are reserved exclusively for the monopoly provider. However, online operators need to partner with a land-based licence holder in order to satisfy a local establishment requirement; alternatively, apply for one of the retail licences that can be extended to cover online.
Status: There remain valid arguments that the existing regime is incompatible with Belgium’s EU Treaty obligations. Active enforcement measures against operators and players are in place. A mandatory, weekly deposit limit of €500 for all customers of licensed operators is in effect. A draft law to introduce an advertising and sponsorship ban has been submitted to parliament.

Regulated gambling products: 
Sports betting, horse race betting, poker, casino, bingo and lottery (excluding raffles and instant lottery games).
Operator type: All products are available to private operators except for lotteries, which are to be reserved exclusively for the monopoly.
Status: Any operator from an EU/EEA jurisdiction or the Swiss Confederation can apply for a licence. The Bulgarian regulator has awarded approximately 30 licences to date, including to a number of international operators. The government has adopted amendments to the country’s gambling legislation to establish a monopoly on lotteries in Bulgaria, with any existing lottery licences to be revoked with immediate effect following the amendment’s entry into force.

Regulated gambling products:
 Sports betting, horse race betting, poker, casino, bingo and lottery.
Operator type: All products are available to private operators except for lotteries, which are reserved exclusively for the monopoly provider. Private operators can only be licensed to offer online gambling if they obtain a land-based casino or betting licence.
Status: Attempts by the Ministry to update its gambling legislation have been subject to criticism in respect of EU incompatibility issues (including the requirement that only holders of land-based licences can offer online gambling). Regulatory reforms appear to have stalled in the country.

Regulated gambling products: 
Sports betting, horse race betting and lottery.
Operator type: OPAP has a monopoly over lottery operations; betting licences are available to private operators.
Status: Cyprus regulated online betting in July 2012, although a licensing regime was not established until 2016. ISPs are obliged to implement blocking measures to prohibit Cypriot residents from accessing unlicensed gambling websites. A betting law, which entered into force in March 2019, replaced the 2012 Betting Law. The provisions of the 2019 law are substantially the same, with minor amends introduced to address EU incompatibility concerns under the previous law (such as the requirement to have a local branch in order to obtain a betting licence). An overhaul to player protection measures has been proposed by the betting regulator.

Regulated gambling products:
 Sports betting, horse race betting, poker, casino, bingo and lottery.
Operator type: EU and EEA-based operators are able to apply for licences.
Status: The gambling regulatory regime, which entered into force in the Czech Republic on 1 January 2017, allows EU/EEA companies to enter the market. ISP-blocking measures are active in the jurisdiction. Tax rates reportedly increased to up to 30% of GGR for certain online gambling activities from January 2020.

Regulated gambling products:
 Sports betting, fantasy sports, horse race betting, poker, casino, bingo and lottery.
Operator type: Licences for all gambling products are available to private operators save for lotteries, which are controlled by the state monopoly.
Status: The Danish online gambling regime went live on 1 January 2012. ISP-blocking measures are active in the jurisdiction and the Danish Gaming Authority (DGA) has been granted an injunction to block operators and suppliers that have been targeting Danish customers without the requisite licence. As of 1 January 2020, licensed operators are required to ensure that customers have set deposit limits before they are allowed to gamble, although it is understood this applies to online casino only. The DGA introduced new marketing regulations, effective from 1 April 2020. On 1 January 2021, the rate of tax increased from 20% to 28% of GGR for online gambling activities.

Regulated gambling products
: Sports betting, horse race betting, poker, casino, bingo and lottery.
Operator type: Licences for all gambling products are available to private operators save for lotteries, which are reserved exclusively for the monopoly operator.
Status: Operators seeking to accept business from players in Estonia must be issued an activity licence for the type of gambling they wish to offer, then an operating permit to provide the services online. A blacklist of operators is maintained and updated by local authorities and ISP and payment blocking is in force. Though some operators argue that the regime is still not compatible with EU law, no notification alleging incompatibility has been issued by the EC since the requirement for licensees to maintain servers in Estonia was removed.

Regulated gambling products: 
Sports betting, horse race betting, poker, casino, bingo and lottery.
Operator type: All gambling products are under the exclusive control of monopoly provider Veikkaus Oy.
Status: Despite the existence of a national monopoly, EC enforcement action was dropped subsequent to various changes to Finnish laws. Active enforcement measures are in place (restrictive marketing for offshore operators in particular) and the government is exploring measures to further restrict the offshore supply of gambling services. In January 2021, the government opened a consultation on a number of proposals to reform Finland’s gambling legislation. It is expected that the finalised proposals will be debated in parliament in summer 2021.

Regulated gambling products:
 Sports betting, horse race betting, poker, bingo and lottery.
Operator type: Private operators can obtain online licences for sports betting, horse race betting and poker. The monopoly has exclusive rights to bingo and lottery.
Status: A regulated market since the introduction of a licensing regime in 2010, following which the EC withdrew its infringement proceedings. A new regulatory authority, L’autorité Nationale des Jeux, took over from ARJEL in June 2020. Responsible gambling advice has been issued to operators and players during the Covid-19 crisis, with a warning against using bonuses to attract new players to poker.

Regulated gambling products: 
Schleswig-Holstein, a small northern-German state, regulates sports betting, horse race betting, poker, casino and bingo. The other 15 states of Germany currently permit only sports betting and horse race betting, though online poker and virtual slots are currently ‘tolerated’ pending the implementation of a new regulatory regime.
Operator type: Private operators can no longer obtain casino licences in Schleswig-Holstein under the existing regime, although S-H has approved legislation to reinstate existing licences until 2021 (with operations allowed to continue in the interim). S-H has also introduced a quasi-licensing regime for sports betting (intended to be of a transitional nature). In the other 15 states, horse race betting licences are available at a regional level. Sports betting licences can be applied for by private operators as of 1 January 2020. Operators that comply with the requirements of the toleration regime in place pending the introduction of legislation in 2021 may offer online poker and virtual slots until that time.
Status: The main legal framework for gambling regulation in Germany has been the subject of much debate and has been heavily criticised by the EC and interested parties/states within Germany for a number of years. Discussions to reform the existing legislation resulted in the approval of the 3rd Amendment Treaty which entered into force on 1 January 2020. The 3rd Amendment Treaty removes the limit on the number of sports betting licences and re-introduces a sports betting licensing process. The ban on online casino remains in place, although there is an exception to the prohibition for S-H. On 12 March 2020, the German prime ministers approved the new Interstate Treaty on Gambling which proposes to bring new licensing options for private operators for online poker and virtual slots (although stringent restrictions, such as stake limits, are expected to be implemented). The Treaty, which has been notified to the EC and is scheduled to enter into force from 1 July 2021, has been approved by state leaders but still needs to be ratified by at least 13 of Germany’s 16 state parliaments by the end of April 2021in order to become law on the scheduled date (so far 9 states have ratified the Treaty). In October 2020 a toleration regime was introduced which permits operators to offer online poker and slots provided they comply with the toleration regime’s requirements and certain restrictions (such as stake limits).

Regulated gambling products: 
Sports betting, horse race betting, poker, casino, bingo and lottery.
Operator type: All licences are available to private operators save for lottery, which is reserved exclusively for the monopoly provider, Camelot.
Status: Any operator that transacts with, or advertises to, British residents requires a licence from the Gambling Commission (GC). Licensed operators are required to source gambling software from GC-licensed businesses. In December 2020, the government launched a “major and wide-ranging” review into the current gambling legislation in Great Britain.

Regulated gambling products:
 Sports betting, horse race betting and lottery.
Operator type: All products are exclusively reserved for the monopoly providers pending the implementation of an open licensing regime, although certain private operators are permitted to operate on a transitional basis.
Status: In 2012, a ‘transition period’ commenced, whereby the Greek government granted 24 transitional licences to operators, enabling them to provide services to Greek residents. Legislation, which introduced an open licensing regime for online betting and “other online games”, including casino and poker, entered into force on 30 October 2019. However, the regulations implementing the new legal regime were not published until August 2020. Operators holding a transitional licence may continue to offer services until a decision is made to grant a permanent licence (provided also a further application was submitted prior to 6 September 2020). While the opening of the new online market is currently expected in the first half of 2021, this is subject to change as the local regulator has not yet issued any permanent licences. Further information as to timing on the grant of licences and the opening of the market is expected in the coming weeks, however.

Regulated gambling products:
 Sports betting, horse race betting, poker, casino, bingo and lottery.
Operator type: Only the state monopolies (Szerencsejáték Zrt. and Magyar Lóversenyfogadást-Szervezo Kft) and local concession companies can apply for a licence.
Status: Amendments to Hungarian gambling law came into force on 1 October 2015 and allow only two land-based casinos to hold remote casino concessions. The regulator has since issued fines, a number of which have been challenged, against unlicensed operators that continue to target the market. In June 2017, the ECJ determined Hungary’s gambling regime to be incompatible with Article 56 TFEU. A subsequent ECJ decision in February 2018 ruled against the Hungarian requirement that online gambling operators must have a land-based licence to offer online gambling services to Hungarian citizens, further strengthening arguments that the current regime is incompatible with EU law.

Regulated gambling products: 
Online betting regulated since August 2015. Online gaming is not specifically accounted for in Ireland’s outdated legislation and as such is currently unregulated.
Operator type: Private operators can apply for a betting licence.
Status: Ireland has contemplated updating its legislation, which will create a comprehensive igaming regime, for some time. The Gambling Control Bill – the legislation which promises to specifically regulate online gambling – has been subject to continued delay and legislative progress is not expected in the short- to medium-term. Interim reform measures intended to modernise the regulation of gambling in Ireland entered into effect on 1 December 2020.  In February 2021 draft legislation was published (by an opposition party) which, if passed, would restrict most forms of gambling advertising. According to the Department of Justice’s ‘Justice Plan 2021’, it is expected that in Q3 2021 an independent Irish gambling regulator will be established and a General Scheme of legislation to reform the licensing regime for gambling will be published..

Regulated gambling products:
 Sports betting, horse race betting, poker, casino, bingo and lottery.
Operator type: Fully regulated market, although lotteries are the subject of a state monopoly.
Status: Remote gambling licences are granted within specific application windows. The last tender process for applications closed on 19 March 2018. AGCOM, the Italian communications regulator, recently issued its first sanction against an operator for violation of the advertising ban (introduced in 2018). New measures to combat unlicensed gambling, including payment blocking measures, entered into effect in October 2019. A new tax, which amounts to 0.5% on turnover, was introduced in 2020 on all bets on sporting events (including virtual sports) and is expected to remain in place until 31 December 2021.

Regulated gambling products:
Operator type: Monopoly.
Status: The general prohibition on gambling appears sufficiently wide to cover all forms of online gambling.

Regulated gambling products:
 Sports betting, horse race betting, poker, casino, bingo and lottery.
Operator type: Private operators can apply for a local licence (except for lottery products).
Status: In 2018, Malta approved a new Gaming Act that replaced all existing gaming legislation with a single piece of legislation, supplemented by secondary legislation. The Gaming Act, with directives and regulations, became effective on 1 August 2018.

Regulated gambling products:
 Sports betting, horse race betting, poker, casino, bingo and lottery.
Operator type: Monopoly for all products.
Status: The Remote Gambling Bill, which will introduce a new licensing regime, is scheduled  to enter into force on 1 April 2021. Applications for a licence under the new regime will be accepted from that date and the Dutch regulator has published draft policy rules and licensing permit documentation in relation to the application process. It is understood that operators that have directly ‘targeted’ the Dutch market will face a 33-month cooling-off period before being eligible for a licence. While operators may apply for a licence from 1 April 2021, the market under the new regime is not anticipated to go live until 1 October 2021. In the interim, the regulator is expected to continue to implement enforcement measures against operators targeting Dutch players.

Regulated gambling products:
 Sports betting, horse race betting and lottery.
Operator type: Online gambling is reserved for the two monopoly providers, Norsk Tipping and Norsk Rikstoto.
Status: The monopoly has extended its offering to include live betting, online bingo and casino games in an attempt to redirect traffic from unlicensed sites. The Norwegian regulator continues to step up enforcement efforts against unregulated operators, local banks and payment service providers. The government has passed amendments to try and stem the flow of gambling supply from offshore, including enhanced enforcement powers to prevent gambling advertising from abroad. Expanded payment blocking provisions entered into effect on 1 January 2020. Draft legislation consolidating Norway’s various gambling laws is currently being considered.

Regulated gambling products: 
Sports betting, horse race betting, casino and poker.
Operator type: Betting licences are available for companies with a representative in Poland. Casino and poker are reserved for a state monopoly.
Status: Legislation enacted on 1 January 2012 permits betting. Online gaming (including poker) is no longer prohibited as of 1 April 2017, although the exclusive rights to offer such products are reserved for a state monopoly. Provisions that provide for the establishment of a blacklist of unlicensed operators and ISP and payment blocking came into force on 1 July 2017 and in February amendments to such provisions were the subject of parliamentary debate. The blacklist contains more than 1,000 domain names. 

Regulated gambling products:
 Sports betting, horse race betting, poker, casino, bingo and lottery.
Operator type: Any EU/EEA operator can apply to be granted a licence for online gambling. Lottery games and land-based fixed-odds sports betting remain reserved for a monopoly.
Status: A regulated market since 2015. Although operators can apply for licences, their Portuguese revenue streams are subject to comparatively high tax rates, particularly in sports betting. Portugal’s 2020 Budget will implement changes to the current taxation rates applicable to selected gambling products offered online. 

Regulated gambling products: 
Sports betting, horse race betting, casino, bingo and lottery.
Operator type: Any operator from an EU/EEA jurisdiction or the Swiss Confederation can apply for a licence. Lottery games remain reserved for the monopoly.
Status: The Gambling Law (as amended) introduced a legal framework for a fully regulated online gambling market and requires licences to be held by online gambling operators, as well as software providers, payment processors, affiliates and testing labs. The secondary legislation that fully implemented the new licensing regime came into force on 26 February 2016. The gambling regulator actively polices the regime and notifies ISPs to block blacklisted websites. A legislative proposal to further amend the Gambling Law was submitted to the Romanian Senate in September 2020.

Regulated gambling products: 
Sports betting, horse race betting, poker, casino, bingo and lottery.
Operator type: Private operators can apply for licences for online casino and for sports betting licences. Lottery and bingo remain reserved for the monopoly provider.
Status: The Gambling Law came into force on 1 March 2019. The Gambling Law allows private operators outside of Slovakia to apply for licences for sports betting and casino, although sports betting licences did not take effect until 1 July 2020.

Regulated gambling products: 
Sports betting, horse race betting, poker, casino, bingo and lottery.
Operator type: Online gambling must be operated by land-based casinos or lotteries and, as a result, only the monopoly holds online licences in Slovenia.
Status: The requirement that only land-based Slovenian operators are eligible for licences is considered by certain industry stakeholders to be incompatible with EU law. Draft amendments to the Gaming Act were published in 2015, which aimed to remove the current local establishment requirement. However, the proposal does not appear to have been submitted to parliament to date. Whether any proposed amendments will ultimately introduce an open licensing system remains unclear.

Regulated gambling products:
 Sports betting, horse race betting, poker, casino, bingo and lottery.
Operator type: Private operators can apply for licences for all gambling products save for lottery.
Status: Operators must hold a general licence and a specific licence, both issued by the National Gambling Commission, for each activity. Remote gambling licences are granted within specific application windows. The last tender process for applications closed on 18 December 2018. In November 2020, Spain introduced significant restrictions on gambling advertising, sports sponsorship and welcome bonuses. 

Regulated gambling products: 
Betting (including sports, horse race, pool, exchanges), casino, poker, bingo and lottery.
Operator type: Licences are available for private operators.
Status: As of 1 January 2019, Sweden is a fully regulated market. All gambling operators that wish to offer their services to Swedish residents will be required to obtain a licence in order to validly do so (either a ‘betting’ licence or a ‘commercial online games’ licence, depending on the product(s) being offered). Active enforcement measures are in place. Temporary regulations, which were introduced on 2 July 2020 in response to the Covid-19 crisis, restrict, among other things, deposit and loss limits (applicable to casino only) and total login time. The measures were due to be lifted by the end of 2020 but in December 2020 the Swedish government decided to extend the restrictions until at least the end of June 2021. In January 2021, the Swedish government opened a consultation on certain proposals, such as the prohibition of gambling advertising between 6am to 9pm and the introduction of a B2B licensing regime.  

Wiggin is a law firm dedicated to supporting the media, entertainment and gaming sectors. Its market-leading betting and gaming group provides specialist legal services to an array of gambling industry stakeholders. We advise many of the world’s leading gambling operators and suppliers and also enjoy helping entrepreneurial, interactive start-up businesses. If you’d like to hear more, contact us at gambling@wiggin.co.uk.

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Kings College study finds “real lack of empirical research” on UK gambling harm

The study was commissioned by Action Against Gambling Harms and conducted by Rachel Hesketh, Vivienne Moxham-Hall, Caroline Norrie, Lucy Strang and Benedict Wilkinson at the Policy Institute.

The study highlighted comparisons of the costs and benefits of affordability checks, effects on public services, the effects of childhood gambling on mental health and issues relating to women gamblers as key areas where research was lacking.

The researchers reviewed studies on gambling-related harm across major journals and databases. After sifting the studies, the researchers reviewed 56 studies related to children, 20 related to women, 28 related to sport and 26 related to affordability and financial harm.

When looking at studies around the relationship between gambling and financial harm, the study said the research was currently lacking.

“Our rapid review of the literature and its gaps suggests that the available evidence on the financial harms of gambling is patchy,” it said.

While it noted there was a “good body of work” on the relationship between poverty and problem gambling, it said work was especially lacking when it came to the costs of gambling-related harm on public services.

In terms of research about children and gambling the study said the existing research was “able to point to clear associations between youth gambling and a range of other negative outcomes, including delinquency, substance misuse, poor academic performance and mental ill health”.

In addition, it was found that studies suggest school interventions can improve knowledge about gambling for young people, but evidence of the impact of these studies in preventing harm was mixed.

When looking at research around women gamblers, the researchers determined that the current understanding is “limited”.

“Particularly concerning is the evidence suggesting that male bias in gambling research has resulted in women’s needs remaining unidentified and unmet,” they said.

It added that the research that was found was typically from countries other than the UK.

The research on gambling on sport, meanwhile, was again found to be “patchy”. Studies that did exist tended to focus on specific areas, such as fantasy sports and the effect of gambling advertising in sport on children.

“There appears to be a need for both more research overall in this area, and to address specific gaps in the evidence,” the researchers said. “These include the need for more longitudinal studies to better understand the direction of the relationships between sports gambling and other negative outcomes.”

Action Against Gambling Harms chair Seema Kennedy said she hoped to see researchers fill the gaps identified by the study.

“This important study shows how much we still don’t know about gambling and its effects on British society,” Kennedy said. “We hope that these findings will galvanise research institutions and policymakers into commissioning further work to fill the gaps.”

Number of Danish players self-excluding rises beyond 25,000

The findings revealed that by the end of 2012, 1,500 players were on the ROFUS. In 2020, that number had increased to 25,176 players, a rise of 1,566%.

With 21,586 players having self-excluded as of the end of 2019, 2020’s figure represented a 16.6% year-on-year increase.

Around 4,000 players have joined the register each year since 2016.

The increase may be due to changes in Spillemyndigheden rules around marketing and ROFUS referral. On January 1 2020 it became mandatory for gaming operators to include ROFUS information in their marketing.

The report also revealed that 76% of those on the ROFUS register are men.

Two further reports from Spillemyndigheden confirmed that more men than women participate in online gambling overall, and that young men are asking for the most help when it comes to problem gambling.

The latter noted a link between young men suffering with problem gambling and beginning to gamble at an early age. StopSpillet, a helpline ran by the Danish Gambling Authority, found that out of a sample of 530 players with gambling problems, 450 had gambled before they turned 25.

Last week Spillemyndigheden won approval to block 55 gambling websites that had been operating in Denmark unlicenced.

Ukraine’s SBU closes more than 30 illegal gambling operations

Gambling establishments were shut down in the Kiev, Donetsk, Zhytomyr and Odessa regions of the country, among several others, and some of the establishments were operated by groups the SBU labels as terrorist organisations.

During the investigations, SBU officers seized over 600 units of computer equipment, 14 poker tables, 5 roulette wheels, playing chips, cards, card game accessories, the mobile phones of establishment staff, client database records, video recorders and cash.

Information on the possible involvement of law enforcement officers in the activities is currently under investigation.

The SBU said it has been established that part of the funds obtained by the operations had been used to finance self-proclaimed states within Ukraine, the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) and Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR).

Ukraine regards both the DPR and the LPR as terrorist organizations, although most international bodies and other nations, including the EU, US, and Russia, do not apply this label to the groups.

Gambling was legalised in Ukraine in 2020, after the country’s president Volodymyr Zelensky signed the Gambling Act into law in August.

Under the bill, online gambling, bookmaking, slot halls and land-based casinos would all be legal, but casinos may only be located in hotels.

The first licence granted by KRAIL was awarded in February, to Cosmolot operator Spaceiks, allowing it to operate an online casino in the country.

Ukraine’s first sports betting licence was subsequently awarded to Parimatch in March.