Dutch Video Game Industry Releases Statement on Loot Boxes

In response to concerns expressed by the Netherlands Gambling Authority, the Dutch video game industry, through the Dutch Games Association (DGA), has released a statement on loot boxes or similar gambling-related mechanisms in video games:

“We believe that the Netherlands Gambling Authority is right to be concerned about the   potential dangers of loot boxes and similar mechanisms. […] Our conclusion is unambiguous and unequivocal: Dutch game developers and publishers want to prevent their games from becoming a gateway to gambling addiction and that games of chance are to be disguised as games that appear to be focused solely on entertainment.”

The DGA also expressed support for keeping gambling advertising out of entertainment games.

 

“US Department of Justice Should Not End Online Gambling to Appease Trump Donor”

The US Department of Justice should not end online gambling to appease Trump donor and land-based casino owner Sheldon Adelson, says former H.W. Bush associate deputy attorney general Peter Ferrara:

“I have never come across a decision as corrupt, unethical and legally bankrupt as the one the Justice Department made public last month, reversing a 2011 ruling that allowed states to legalize and regulate online gambling within their borders. The reversal seems to be nothing short of a handout to casino owner and top Republican donor Sheldon Adelson.”

Not coincidentally, the US Department of Justice’s recently revised ruling on the Wire Act is currently under simultaneous attack by at least two state attorneys-general and the association representing all US lottery operators.

 

Upcoming Events

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

  • Betting on Sports America is the largest sports betting conference & exhibition in the US, featuring 175 leading industry speakers across 40 sessions. The event is scheduled to take place 23 – 25 April, 2019 in New York/New Jersey.
  • The GamblingCompliance Global Regulatory Awards 2019, which celebrate excellence in compliance and responsible gambling initiatives, will be awarded on 1 May, 2019, at the De Vere Grand Connaught Rooms in Central London.
  • 115+ speakers already confirmed their attendence at the World Gaming Executive Summit, 2-4 July 2019 in Barcelona.
  • The International Association of Gaming Regulators (IAGR) is officially calling for speakers for its 2019 Annual Conference to be held in Montego Bay, Jamaica from 30 September to 3 October 2019. Submissions are due by 1 February.

 

Dutch Senate to Vote on Remote Gaming Bill on Tuesday, February 19

Following yesterday’s debate, the Dutch Senate decided to hold a vote on the Remote Gaming Bill next week, on Tuesday, February 19, 2019.

The letter that was sent on Friday by Minister for Legal Protection Sander Dekker appeared to offer sufficient concessions– in particular, a blackout period for online operators who “actively” target the Dutch market – to ensure a majority in support of the bill.

Political groups VVD, D66, PVV, and PvdA – which command 40 out of 75 votes – are expected to vote in favor, with support possibly also forthcoming from CDA (12 votes) and GroenLinks (4 votes).

While passage of the bill now seems virtually assured, it must also be remembered that, based on past experiences, nothing is entirely certain when it comes to Dutch politicians and the topic of gambling.

Next week, the Senate will also vote on several (formally non-binding) motions (available here). The more far-reaching of these (e.g. calling for a complete ban on all online gambling advertising and a five-year blackout period for illegal operators) are not expected to pass.

However, the Motion Postema, which calls for a minimum blackout period of two years for illegal online operators, is likely to be adopted.

 

Government (Temporarily) Withdraws Casino Reform Bill

Already during last week’s debate, it became quickly apparent that the Casino Reform Bill (discussed concurrently with the Remote Gaming Bill) would not be able to command a majority in the Senate.

Yesterday, Minister Dekker said that he would reconsider the proposed legislation and requested that the current bill would not be voted on.

As a result, the privatization of Holland Casino and the liberalization of the Dutch land-based casino market has now been postponed indefinitely.

As it seems unlikely that Dekker will be able to come up with a proposal during the current Senate term (which ends in early June) that is able to command a majority, the most probable scenario is that the current bill will be voted down at the end of the present Senate term and that completely new legislation has to pass the Lower House at some unspecified point in the future.

 

Other News

Proposed changes in the basis on which sports betting tax is calculated – 29% of GGR instead of 29% on prizes of more than €449, could lead to (€) the disappearance of horse racing in the Netherlands, stakeholders warn.

 

Swedish gambling regulator Spelinspektionen has revealed that its Spelpaus.se self-exclusion program has now attracted more than 20,000 registrations.

 

The UK Gambling Commission has announced new rules which online operators must follow to make gambling safer and fairer. The new rules will ensure that operators verify customers’ age and identity details faster.

 

Poland’s leading betting operator STS is launching online sports betting, casino, virtual sports and eSports operations in multiple European markets under licenses obtained from regulators in Malta and the UK.

 

Horse racing will resume in the UK after an outbreak of equine flu forced a six-day shutdown. The shutdown has cost the bookmaking industry tens of millions of pounds.

 

Now that the new Swedish iGaming regulation is up and running, LeoVegas expects to derive more than 50% of its revenues from regulated markets.

 

LeoVegas also saw a decrease in operating profit during 2018 as the company experienced what CEO Gustaf Hagman described as the “most challenging” year in its history.

 

Swedish casino games developer NetEnt has reported an 8.9% year-on-year increase in 2018 revenue, though increased costs saw profit decline in the fourth quarter of the year.

 

Catena Media is not ready to turn its back on M&A opportunities after the company’s financial results revealed a slowdown in organic growth towards the end of 2018.

A bipartisan group of lawmakers are attempting to bring licensed online casinos to the state of West Virginia.