To keep up with all that’s going on in the casino world is impossible as things change constantly. I know all of you have jobs, kids and whatever else to deal with as well. Catching up on the latest game releases, updated market regulations and everything in between is not exactly a priority but that doesn’t mean it can’t be interesting.
I will try to give you guys a glimpse of what’s happening out there and hopefully this can help make things easier for you.
Here’s some of the latest news from around the world.
Swedish Regulator Will Impose Supplier License Fees Starting July 1st
The Swedish regulatory authority, Spelinspektionen, has announced a new obligation for owners of supplier licenses to pay fees, effective from 1st July.
Under the new guidelines, Spelinspektionen will impose a fixed fee on organizations holding licenses to supply gaming software to operators within Sweden. Each license held by a business will require a separate fee, unless an exemption has been granted.
Heavy Hourly Fines Are to Be Expected
In cases where the fixed fee does not adequately cover the costs of supervision due to unforeseen circumstances or “special events,” the regulator retains the right to impose a variable fee.
Spelinspektionen has determined this excess to be SEK1,500 (£109/€128/$141) per additional hour spent by supervisors in investigating any related activities. Furthermore, the license-holder will be responsible for covering travel, accommodation as well as any other expenses associated with the inspection.
Advanced Payment Expected
Regarding payment timelines, while the fixed fee must be settled prior to the invoice’s due date, businesses will be required to pay the variable fee one month in advance.
Supplier licenses in Sweden became the focal point of attention when Spelinspektionen initiated the submission process on 1st March. Following a meticulous evaluation process, the regulator announced the awarding of the first licenses in the middle of that same month, having received a total of 60 license applications.
Effective from 1st July, these five-year licenses will be obligatory for any provider looking to offer their services to operators within Sweden. The introduction of these licenses stems from legislation enacted by the Swedish parliament in November of 2022, aimed at enhancing the country’s channelisation rates towards legal gambling offerings.
Finland Looks to Dismantle Its Gambling Monopoly by 2026
Finland, in a bold move towards modernization, recently revealed its intention to dismantle the current gambling monopoly system and adopt a licensing model by no later than 2026.
The Finnish government, driven by its commitment to curbing the financial and social repercussions of gambling, aims to enhance the country’s channelisation rate to legal offerings through this reform. The proposed licensing system would encompass online casino games and sports betting, intended to bring a new era of openness and fair competition.
Reverse the 2017 Merger
Under this plan, the state-owned gaming monopoly Veikkaus would undergo a restructuring process, dividing it into multiple separate entities within the same group. This restructuring would effectively reverse the 2017 merger that combined Veikkaus, Raha-automaattiyhdistys (the slot business), and Fintoto (the horse race betting operator).
Prepared to Fight Money Laundering and More
Acknowledging the shortcomings of the current gambling policy, which has not resulted in the desired outcomes, the government looks to bolster regulation and enforcement under the licensing model. To achieve this, the regulatory body will be empowered with adequate resources, while measures to combat money laundering and sports integrity violations will be implemented.
Government to Impose Strict Guidelines
In an effort to promote responsible gambling practices, Finland intends to establish a unified self-exclusion platform that spans across all gambling portals. Furthermore, the government will impose strict guidelines on marketing activities, demanding moderation, responsible content, limited visibility, and reduced frequency.
The government is fully aware of the significance of this reform and its potential impact on the prevalence of gambling problems. Consequently, a comprehensive assessment of the social implications will be conducted before the introduction of the licensing model.
Promoting Fair Competition
The industry has greeted this news with enthusiasm, particularly the Finnish online gambling trade association Rahapeliala, which has been pushing for the adoption of a licensing model. Praising the government’s commitment to aligning the gambling system with contemporary technology, Rahapeliala’s CEO, Mika Kuismanen, welcomes the reform as a way to fair competition and safeguard the interests of society and players.
The announcement comes after months of negotiations following the April elections, resulting in the unveiling of the new government’s policy programme. What led to the reform was the fact that the Finnish government conducted a study, comparing its own system to those in other countries. Both the ruling party and opposition recognized the need for change, paving the way for the end of the monopoly.
New Controversial Gaming Law Comes to Malta
Malta has made headlines by approving the controversial Bill 55, which grants protection to offshore operators based in the country from foreign liabilities. Interesting, right?
On June 16th, Malta’s President, George Vella, signed Act No. XXI of 2023, also known as the Gaming (Amendment) Act, into law. This act instructs courts to disregard and refuse to enforce any foreign judgments against Malta-licensed operators operating in the European market. Essentially, it shields Maltese operators from legal action when their licensed gaming services are called into question.
An Ambiguous Legal Situation
As you all know there are a lot of gaming companies based in Malta, including some of the industry’s biggest names, that provide online gaming services throughout Europe. These operators now argue that their activities fall under the Treaty of the Functioning of the European Union, which facilitates the free movement of services within the European market.
However, European governments and regulators point to a 2017 decision by the European Commission, which closed infringement procedures and complaints in the gambling sector, as a basis to prevent Malta-based businesses from accepting bets within their jurisdictions. This has created an ambiguous legal situation that has left both operators and regulators uncertain.
Legal Cases in Germany and Austria
This new law comes at a time when ongoing legal cases in Germany and Austria have raised concerns within the gaming industry. In Austria, the Supreme Court ruled that PokerStars violated the federal gambling monopoly, nullifying all gambling contracts and ordering reimbursement to the plaintiff.
In Germany, the Frankfurt Higher Regional Court upheld a lower court’s decision requiring an unnamed online casino to repay over €26,000 in losses to a player who gambled on the site before online gambling was regulated in Germany.
Numerous Claims Against Operators
These rulings have opened the floodgates for numerous claims against operators with historical or current activities in these markets. AdvoFin, a firm specializing in legal action, claims to have recovered €40 million in player losses for 1,500 plaintiffs through its legal activities.
While some operators have chosen to pay out losses, others have fought against these judgments. Well-known companies have refused to honor judgments for an extended period. As a result, many lawyers have initiated legal proceedings in Malta, where these businesses are headquartered.
Malta Under Fire
In one case, an individual obtained a final non-appealable judgment against a company offering gaming services in the European market without a local license. Since the company in question refused to pay out, the person enlisted the services of a local Maltese firm to sue the operator.
Protect the Interests of Everyone Involved
The gaming landscape in Malta is undergoing significant changes due to these legal battles and regulatory challenges. The approval of Bill 55 has reshaped the dynamics and legal protections for offshore operators. As the industry adapts, operators, legal teams, and regulators must navigate the evolving landscape to ensure compliance and protect the interests of all involved parties.
See You at the Reels
Ok, that’s enough news for today so I’m off to spin some reels. I’ll see you there!