Gaming News

UK Gambling Commission targets illegal poker clubs

The UK Gambling Commission has announced that it has taken action against three illegal poker clubs in the country as part of a campaign to tackle unlawful gambling.

The three members’ clubs have been ordered to stop providing poker as a result of investigations by local authorities with support from the regulatory body.

The Fifth Street Card Club in Borehamwood had its club gaming permit withdrawn after it was ruled that the club could not demonstrate that it was being run in “good faith” in accordance with the Licensing Act 2003.

The Royal Surrey Social Club in Morden, Surrey has also halted poker play after local council officials found poker was being played illegally in exceeding prescribed limits.

In addition, a new application for the Palms of Enfield club was turned down by the local council on a number of grounds including concerns over illegal poker. The decision may be subject to an appeal.

Under the Gambling Act 2005, commercial high-stakes poker is restricted to licensed casinos.

Poker is allowed in members clubs but there are restrictions depending on whether there is a gaming permit in place, as well as condition on participation fees, and stake and prize limits. In addition, the club’s primary purpose cannot be for gambling.

A total of 10 clubs have been forced to shut down or halt poker activities since Hackney Council rejected an appeal in July 2012 by the International Private Members Club against the removal of a club gaming permit and club premises certificate from a premises offering poker in Hackney.

Other areas have also started to refuse gambling permits due to concerns over applicants and their intention to run illegal poker clubs.

Nick Tofiluk, director of regulatory operations at the Gambling Commission, said: “These 10 cases show local authorities have the means and the determination to tackle concerns about illegal poker in whatever guise it is presented.

“We are committed to working closely in support of local authorities in dealing with such matters. Local authorities now have considerable experience in this field and we will continue to promote good practice while dealing effectively with illegal poker clubs.

“The message is simple; if you offer poker in a club which falls outside the rules for exempt gaming, or offer commercial poker you are breaking the law.”

13 March 2014

The recent ICE Totally Gaming in London proved to be the busiest show ever for DRGT.

The independent systems company offers serverless technology that can connect all slots. This has greatly simplified and reduced the barriers to entry for gaming operators around the world.

Already over 200 casinos are making use of DRGT technology in 30 different countries with over 23,000 slots connected. ICE was the ideal platform for DRGT to bring even more systems innovations to the market.

Jurgen De Munck, founder and CEO, said: “ICE was truly sensational for us and gave us even more motivation to take our systems another step further. The multimedia add-ons to drScreen were a real hit.”

UK gamblers to set own limits on FOBTs under new code

Gamblers in the UK will be able to set limits on the amount of time and money they spend on fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs) under a new code of conduct developed by the Association of British Bookmakers (ABB).

According to the Guardian newspaper, the new code will enable customers to set their own limits in the time and money they spend on a machine, while staff will be alerted when limits have been reached.

Mandatory alerts will appear on the machines when a customer has spent £250 on a machine or played for more 30 minutes. Each alert will also introduce a 30-second break in play.

In addition, betting shop staff will also be trained to identify problem gamblers and offer advice and support.

The alerting technology will be installed on 33,000 machines across England and Wales, but testing and installation requirements will mean the entire introduction process will take up to six months to complete.

Dirk Vennix, chief executive of the ABB, said the code had the full support of the gambling industry and would help to give players more “control” and “encourage responsible gambling”.

“We recognise growing concerns that some customers are spending too much money or too much time on gaming machines,” Vennix said.

“We believe the measures strike the right balance between protecting customers without stopping the enjoyment of the eight million people who play on gaming machines without any problems.”

As reported by iGaming business in January 2014, the UK government rejected a motion to for local councils to be given more power to limit the number of FOBTs in their individual constituencies.

Helen Grant, the UK’s Culture Minister, said that although the code was a “positive step in the right direction”, the government thinks “more could be done” to help protect punters.

“Problem gambling is a serious issue and we are determined to help tackle it,” Grant said. “We want there to be a competitive gambling sector but not at the expense of public protection, and our ongoing review is focused on that.”

The Responsible Gambling Trust (RGT) has been asked by the ABB to commission an independent and systematic review of the new code.

Marc Etches, chief executive of the RGT, added: “The evaluation will assess the code's short-term and long-term impacts on consumer behaviour and will form an important part of the RGT's recently announced programme of research into gaming machines located in licensed betting offices.”


28 February 2014

European parliament report on anti-money laundering directive

 The European Parliament committees on Economic and Monetary Affairs (ECON) and Civil Liberties (LIBE) adopted their joint report on the European Commission proposal for a revision of the Anti-Money Laundering Directive.

EL has consistently called for the extension of the Anti-Money Laundering Directive’s scope to all forms of gambling: given the high financial flows inherent to any gambling activity, it is an area with a high vulnerability to fraud and money laundering where not regulated appropriately, or where the existing regulation is not enforced.

EL President Friedrich Stickler: “We had called unambiguously for an extension of the scope of the Directive to all forms of gambling. We today welcome the further important step taken by the European Parliament to ensure an appropriate application of the controls on the specific activity that is gambling, thereby allowing Member States to apply the Directive to its full potential”.

EL today strongly supports the specification brought by the European Parliament of the specific forms of due diligence that should apply: for forms of gambling beyond casinos and online gambling, the controls should apply on the winnings above a threshold of 2 000 EUR. This specification rightly addresses the specific risk that can lie in the potential fraud with winnings and takes into consideration European customer social habits.

EL points out that the control on winnings for certain forms of gambling is already in place in a number of Member States and has proven to be adequate. EL therefore calls on the Council to now follow the lead of the European Parliament and also provide for this efficient and adapted way of extending the Directive to all forms of gambling.

EL takes note of the fact that the European Parliament supports the possibility for Member States to exempt forms of gambling, following a risk assessment. However, EL considers that the provision as adopted in ECON and LIBE today, whereby Member States need to seek the approval from the European Commission, goes beyond the necessary and sufficient guarantees of control of national implementations already provided in the Directive and undermines the subsidiarity principle as consistently referred to in the CJEU jurisprudence on gambling. EL therefore hopes this point will be clarified further in the dialogue between the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission on the Directive.

It is expected that the European Parliament plenary will confirm the position adopted by the LIBE and ECON committees in April in order to start discussions with the Council.



Gaming Lords reject amendment to block illegal gaming transactions in UK

The UK Gambling Commission has reached agreement with three major payment systems to work together to block financial transactions involving unlicensed gaming operators, while lawmakers narrowly rejected a proposed amendment which would have provided the Commission with discretionary powers to block financial transactions across all payment mechanisms.

The question of payment blocking as a measure against unlicensed operators was discussed Tuesday in the House of Lords during the Report stage of the Gambling (Licensing and Advertising) Bill.

Baroness Howe of Idlicote, who introduced the amendment together with Lord Stevenson, said that it aimed to prevent funds being transferred to illegal operators, “thereby creating a disincentive both to the company to operate illegally and to UK gamblers, who will find it much easier to go to the many licensed operators available.”

05 Mar 14

UK gambling industry to launch code of conduct

Designed by the Association of British Bookmakers
The code will evolve as new research and new technological solutions are developed.
The UK Code for Responsible Gambling and Player Protection introduces enforced breaks for customers on gambling machines, automatic alerts about the money and time spent and improved training for gaming staff. It has been designed by the Association of British Bookmakers with the full support of the gambling industry.
Dr Mark Griffiths, professor of gambling studies at Nottingham Trent University’s International Gaming Research Unit, explains: “The player protection and harm minimisation measures proposed go further than anything else emanating from the UK gambling sector in the past.

“Some of the measures proposed are innovative and potentially world-leading and I am delighted that the ABB has taken such a proactive stance in its efforts to promote responsible gambling and minimise problem gambling.” It is the first time anywhere in the world that customers will able to set their own limits on the amount of time and money they spend on gambling machines. Staff are alerted when the limit is reached and the machine alerts the customer and forces a 30-second break in play..

Dirk Hansen, CEO of GamCare, a charity which helps treat problem gamblers, commented: “I welcome the ABB’s move towards offering greater protections for players, encouraging responsible play and for raising awareness amongst betting customers about the help that is available for problem gambling.

“These new measures will not only educate players to the risks associated with gambling, but also empower individuals to get support when they need it.” In addition, staff will be given additional training to help identify problem gamblers and to offer advice and support. The training will be refreshed on a regular basis. Messaging promoting the risks of problem gambling will also be given greater prominence. Both betting shops and individual machines will carry more conspicuous warnings from March 1 onwards. The technological measures are being installed on 33,000 gambling machines across England and Wales.

Due to testing and installation requirements, they will take up to six months to introduce. Bookmakers are working with gaming operators to ensure the time frames are as short as possible. The code will evolve as new research and new technological solutions are developed.

Dirk Vennix, chief executive of the Association of British Bookmakers, said: “The code will help give players more control and encourage responsible gambling. It forms part of the industry’s ongoing, proactive efforts to be socially responsibly, to tackle problem gambling and to ensure a duty of care towards every customer.”

“We recognise growing concerns that some customers are spending too much money or too much time on gaming machines That is why we have put together the code, which introduces revolutionary new harm minimisation measures, the likes of which have yet to be seen anywhere in the world. The industry has come together as one to promote responsible gambling. It is united in a fierce commitment to help vulnerable people. That is why the measures that the code introduces go above and beyond regulatory requirements.”

“We believe the measures strike the right balance between protecting customers without stopping the enjoyment of the eight million people who play on gaming machines without any problems,” concluded.

United Kingdom

Acting above the law?

Germany’s Interstate Treaty on Gambling that threatens to halve the country’s arcade industry is motivated by the states’ desire to protect their own interests, argues Euromat’s Uwe Christiansen.
THERE is a palpable sense within the German AWP market that change is on the way. The first amendment of the Interstate Treaty on Gambling came into force in 2012; in the meantime, the German Länder, or states, have introduced provisions targeting amusement arcades in order to place restrictions on the industry’s growth. It has become almost impossible, said Uwe Christiansen, the German vice president of Euromat, to open new arcades now.

At January’s IMA show in Düsseldorf, the German trade association VDAI revealed that in 2013, the gaming and amusement machine industry made a loss in turnover of 2.6 per cent. Wholesalers made a loss of eight per cent, while machine manufacturers saw a decline of 12.7 per cent. The five-year “protection period” in place following the passing of the treaty in 2012 has given some breathing room to the arcades already in operation, which is why, it is claimed, the turnover from AWP machines fell only slightly. Ordering activity at IMA was “very mixed,” said Christiansen, noting that with no new arcades opening, the opportunity to sell new machines was largely restricted to the replacement cycle.

The problems the arcade industry face date back to reforms undertaken in 2006 that saw the responsibility to legislate over the industry transferred from the federal level to the state level. Having operated on the basis of “stable, nationally applicable, commercial rules decided by the federal government,” the gaming industry now faces an uncertain future.

“The Reform of the Federal System I was meant to achieve local, factual rules in various areas of economic activity – including in the area of amusement arcades,” explained Christiansen. “The result, however, has been different.”

March 3, 2014 by Simon Liddle

Spanish online gambling improves

Casino games brought in a total of 17.1 percent - a total likely to grow if online slots are allowed by the regulator.
(Spain).- The Spanish regulator Dirección General de Ordenación del Juego’s latest figures indicate a 15.6 percent quarter-on-quarter improvement in revenues, but the results still lag behind those achieved a year ago.
Latests figures  shows Q4 revenues reached just under Euro 60 million, 2.5 percent lower than the comparative period last year. Wagers rose 13.9 percent to Euro 1.47 billion, with new player acquisition up 9.4 percent to 137,000, taking full year player registrations to 1.6 million.

Almost half (48.9 percent) of quarter four revenues were generated by sports betting, with online poker cash games bringing in 19.3 percent of revenues and tournaments 9.8 percent.

Casino games brought in a total of 17.1 percent - a total likely to grow if online slots are allowed by the regulator.


UK Gambling law reforms set for further delay

Reforms to gambling laws in Great Britain could be subject to further delay after the UK government announced that it would introduce an amendment to the Gambling (Licensing and Advertising) Bill.07 Mar 2014  
Earlier this week the Department for Culture, Media and Sport announced that it would table an amendment to the Bill, which is currently passing through the UK parliament, which would, if it wins support, force gambling operators based overseas to pay a levy on gross profits taken on horse racing bets. Betting companies based in Great Britain currently are subject to the levy.

The amendment is due to be introduced during the third reading of the Bill in the House of Lords, which is scheduled for 18 March. The Bill reached report stage in the Lords earlier this week where a proposed amendment to give regulatory body the Gambling Commission the power to order the blocking of financial transactions to unlicensed remote gambling operators was narrowly defeated in a vote .  If the amendment is approved during the third reading, the Bill will need to go back to the House of Commons.

In a document published in October 2013, the Gambling Commission indicated that it was unlikely that the Bill would "need much parliamentary time" and explained that the new regulatory regime would be introduced three months after the Bill receives Royal Assent.

The Bill was originally introduced to the House of Commons in May last year and it had its second reading in the House in November 2013. However, since then the timetable for the passage of the Bill has slipped and, with a new amendment on the table, the reforms could be still further delayed.

Under the Gambling (Licensing and Advertising) Bill, all gambling operators, wherever they are based, would be required to obtain a remote gambling licence from the Gambling Commission if they wished to provide remote gambling services to consumers in Great Britain. The new law, if introduced, would bring many foreign-based operators within the scope of direct regulation by the Commission by altering the licensing regime to one based on where bets and wagers are placed –  the 'point of consumption' (POC) – rather than where the operator is based – 'the point of supply'.

Late last year gambling law experts Susan Biddle and Audrey Ferrie of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind, also flagged up delays in the timetable for the passing of the Bill and identified another potential issue that could delay the reforms further . They referenced reports in the media that suggested that the Gibraltar Betting & Gaming Association (GBGA) may consider asking for a judicial review challenge against some of the proposed reforms.

In November last year the GBGA set out an alternative to the Government's proposed POC approach. The alternative regime would involve a form of 'passporting', where remote betting operators based in "rigorously regulated jurisdictions such as Gibraltar" would be able to serve gamblers based in Great Britain.

The GBGA questioned whether the Gambling Commission would have the power to "inspect offices and servers in other jurisdictions" and said that, under its plans, reciprocal arrangements could be drawn up between the Government and other countries to allow obligations relating to tax, data protection, anti-money laundering and consumer protection to be addressed.

Separately from the new Bill, the UK government has decided to implement a new tax regime for remote gambling. This also follows a POC approach, although there are slightly different rules proposed  for determining when remote gambling operators would be subject to the regulatory regime and for when they would be liable to pay the POC tax that is to be applied.

Further details about the tax plans of the government are expected to be detailed in Chancellor George Osborne's budget announcement on 19 March. The government initially proposed placing a 15% POC tax on remote gambling profits. It has estimated that the new tax rules will bring in approximately £300 million in additional tax revenues.

A previous study undertaken by Deloitte on behalf of William Hill, however, warned of the dangers of placing too high a POC tax on remote gambling operators  wishing to conduct business in Great Britain. It said that the imposition of a 15% POC tax rate could have the effect of pushing up to 40% of customers towards unlicensed betting sites. This is supported by a September 2013 report from KPMG commissioned by the Remote Gambling Association. The report proposed a tax rate of not more than 10% and also recommended that the tax be calculated on gross profits rather than gross gaming revenue and in particular that the POC tax should be charged on gambling revenue after deduction of bonuses and free plays.

Irish Gaming Legislation 2013 Update at Irish Show


Irish Gaming legislation announcement is expected. Find out when at the Irish Gaming Show.