Minister Responds to Parliamentary Questions on Loot Boxes

In response to parliamentary questions tabled by MP Michiel van Nispen (SP) on loot boxes in video games, Minister for Legal Protection Sander Dekker said that he will await, for the time being, a study by the Netherland’s Gaming Authority on the question whether, or to which extent, loot boxes are to be characterized as a form of gambling.

The results of this study are expected to be published in early 2018.

 

Norway, Sweden Clamp Down on International Gambling Advertising

Norway’s government announced it wants to close a loophole that allows foreign gambling operators to advertise on offshore Norwegian-language television.

Foreign gambling providers average 62 commercials per hour aimed at Norwegian consumers, the Norwegian Ministry of Culture said, despite only Norsk Tipping and Rikstoto being allowed to advertise money games in the country.

Meanwhile, Sweden’s Lotteriinspektionen gaming regulatory body published a notice on its website last week, warning the publisher of the free daily Metro newspaper to stop running ads for internationally licensed online gambling sites.

Last month, Sweden’s Supreme Administrative Court upheld the Lottery Act’s restrictive advertising rules.

 

“Study Benefits of Gambling alongside Its Costs”

After years of light-touch regulation, Britain’s gambling industry now appears to be facing a phase of legislative tightening, Francesca Leyland of gambling consultancy firm Regulus Partners writes.

However, both legislators and operators should be careful to not disregard the positive aspects of gambling in terms of enjoyment, well-being and sociability:

“The first is that a failure to weigh the good against the bad is likely to result in flawed policies. Indeed, if we focus on negative consequences to the exclusion of positives, then the logical end state must be prohibition. This is true of almost any activity or industry – drink, cars, energy, smartphones, internet usage […]

In addition to concerns over personal freedom, it is questionable how effective proscription would be in tackling harm. As Williams, West & Simpson (certainly no industry apologists) observed in their 2012 review of harm prevention, ‘There is no “magic bullet” to prevent problem gambling. Even total prohibition would likely only have a moderately positive impact, with some offsetting negative consequences.’ […]

Indeed, as we have observed before, if operators and legislators diverted some of their resources to the question of what might bring the greatest enjoyment to the greatest number of people (rather than obsessing with the most highly engaged elements) then we might well have a very different industry; one that placed greater emphasis on creation, less on extraction and was less reliant on ‘VIPs’.”

 

Upcoming Events

The following upcoming events may be of interest to members of the GiH community.

  • This afternoon, 20 December, iGaming Business and Delta DNA will be organizing a webinar “Driving Loyalty in Online Casinos.” Click here to register.
  • The Keeping Crime out of Gambling Conference, which is set to take place on 17 January 2018 in London, is designed to help gambling operators manage compliance issues and ensure that they are not subject to criminal activity through effective fraud prevention and anti-money-laundering strategies.
  • Registration for ICE 2018, which is to take place 6-8 February 2018 at ExCeL London, is live. As always, there will be a Gaming in Holland Lunch – on 7 February – at next year’s foremost gathering of gaming professionals in the world.
  • The GamblingCompliance Global Regulatory Awards 2018, celebrating excellence in the field of regulatory compliance and responsible gambling, will be hosted at The Sheraton Grand Hotel, London – 18 April 2018.
  • Next year, the iGaming Super Show, EiG and Amsterdam Affiliate Conference come together as iGB Live!, a consolidated three brand event. The first edition of iGB Live! will take place 17 – 20 July 2018 at The Amsterdam RAI.

 

  • The 12th EASG Conference on Gambling Studies and Policy Issues is now scheduled for 11-14 September 2018 at the Grand Hotel Excelsior, Valletta, Malta.

 

EU Body Considering Blanket Prohibition on Sale of Binary Options to Retail Clients

The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) announced last week that it is considering a complete ban on the marketing and sale of binary options to retail clients.

Likewise, ESMA said it is considering to introduce a number of restrictions on the marketing, distribution, and sale to retail clients of CFDs.

ESMA will conduct a brief public consultation in January 2018 on this matter.

Unsurprisingly, ESMA’s announcement has sent shares in spread-betting firms plummeting.

 

Other News

Disney has acquired the Endemol Shine Group and Sky plc as part of a larger deal to acquire 21st Century Fox. Both Endemol Shine and Sky have interests in the gaming sector, which – considering Disney’s attitude to gambling – they are now likely to divest from.

 

Holland Casino has released a video containing an artist impression of its new building in the city of Venlo.

 

The Dutch bobsled team, which is being sponsored by Holland Casino, has – barring a miracle – failed to qualify for the Olympics.

 

Dutch lottery operator Nationale Postcode Loterij has extended its cooperation with Vereniging Natuurmonumenten, an environmental protection society, for another five years. Under the agreement, Vereniging Natuurmonumenten will receive ca. €13.5m annually.

 

Nederlandse Loterij is looking to hire a CRM Acquisition Marketeer.

 

The JVH gaming & entertainment group is looking to hire a Project Manager.

 

The Dutch municipality of Sluis says it wants to offer fifteen-year licenses to local amusement arcades in order to allow sufficient time for licensees to recoup their initial investments.

 

As expected, the Spanish ministry of finance has given the Dirección General de Ordenación del Juego (DGOJ) the green light to re-open the window for operators to apply for gambling licenses.

 

Denmark’s regulated gambling market reported healthy growth, with the exception of the seemingly moribund poker vertical.

 

The Stars Group is the first operator to be approved for cross-border poker liquidity sharing by the French regulator.

 

“Operators shouldn’t push the buttons of high risk players,” Mr Green’s Jesper Karrbrink says.

 

After two years of patiently waiting, Novomatic AG’s acquisition of Ainsworth Game Technology is finally set to conclude at the beginning of 2018.

 

Swedish online gambling operator Mr Green has acquired the operations of Evoke Gaming, which include the Redbet.com gambling site.

 

The UK gambling industry took another public relations hit following an investigative program’s revelations of betting shops’ failure to identify a registered self-excluded bettor. Sarah Gardner, the Gambling Commission’s executive director, said: “The result of the BBC investigation is concerning and we’ll be making our own inquiries into what happened in this case.”

 

SBTech has moved to enhance its range of in-play products with the launch of “Action Betting,” which creates instant notifications when a specific incident occurs in a match.

 

Kindred Group, the company behind betting firms including Unibet, Stan James, and 32Red, has teamed up with augmented (AR), virtual (VR), and mixed reality (MR) firm Zappar to explore how MR could be used in the gambling industry.

 

888 Holdings issued a trading update, hailing the firm’s “strong momentum” despite increasing regulatory scrutiny and withdrawing from several markets in 2017. FY2017 adjusted EBITDA will still be “in line with market expectations,” the firm said.

 

Affiliate heavyweight Catena Media has announced the acquisition of troubled football and DFS website Squawka.com for an upfront fee of £1m.

 

Macau Casinos are closing in on a first annual growth in three years, after posting a sixteenth consecutive month of revenue gains in November 2017.

 

Turkey’s top religious body, the Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet), has issued a fatwa on games of chance, stating that purchasing national lottery tickets is considered gambling and that it is forbidden by Islam.

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