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Global gambling legislation news – week ending July 14

USA gambling legislation

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KEEP up to date with legislative movements around the world – whether it be gambling changes in your country or in other parts of the world – with our weekly column.

Sourced from a range of media outlets, the information compiled below provides a quick and convenient way to catch up on gambling changes around the world.

If you have any questions, or something big is happening where you live, shoot us an email at [email protected] or leave a comment below.

This week the US is divided in terms of legislation which could make online casino gambling illegal in every state – yes that means Nevada too. Across the ocean, China is cracking down on VPNs while the UK has announced betting apps via the Google Play Store. Meanwhile, India is considering legalising sports betting with a new white paper recommending some interesting changes. Find out the details below.

Australian casino employees released from Chinese jail

Two Australian Crown Resort employees are among a group of 10 released from jail in China this week. Their release marks the end of the case where 19 employees of the James Packer-backed casino were arrested in China for gambling-related crimes. Of the 19, 16 were fined, while 11 were sentenced to jail for nine to 10 months, time served included. Those released had served their nine-month sentence, while the remaining detained will be released next month.

Meanwhile, the country’s media watchdog has challenged the Australian Competition Tribunal’s decision to approve the tie-up between Tabcorp and Tatts. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has filed a legal challenge against the approval alleging the Tribunal erred in its judgement. CrownBet, the popular betting site in Australia, followed the ACCC and filed an appeal too. Still, the gambling company, Tabcorp, has announced it expects the deal to be completed by the end of the year.

A local council in Sydney is calling on the New South Wales government to freeze the number of electronic gaming machines in Fairfield. It was recently revealed $AUD8 billion was spent on the machines in the 2015/16 financial year. The Fairfield Council said the government should cap the number of machines in vulnerable areas – but not remove them.

America revisits anti-online casino legislation

The legalisation of online casino gambling is a contentious issue in the US at the moment as the country revisit the Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA). While the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act 2006 makes online gambling illegal in the US, in 2011 it was declared the other governing piece of legislation, the Interstate Wire Act 1961, was not made to ban online gambling. It, therefore, gave each individual state the right to legalise online gambling – which in turn sparked debate. As a result, RAWA was suggested to nullify the declaration. RAWA failed through Congress, but it is reportedly back and could even pass. Attorney General Jeff Sessions reportedly said he was shocked about the 2011 declaration that the Wire Act did not apply to online casinos, only sports betting. While he vowed he would do something about it in January he has now said he had recused himself from the issue. Still, a number of politicians are calling for Sessions to reverse the declaration on iGaming.

In Pennsylvania, the online gambling bill which made a lot of progress is on hold. The Pennsylvanian legislature adjourned without discussing online gaming – but it could be discussed within the coming weeks or even the coming months. The legislature returned after the July 4 long weekend with the intention of addressing the 2017-18 budget, which includes the online gaming bill.

Meanwhile the well-known casino operator Caesars Entertainment has had its bankruptcy plans – the company applied for it in 2015 – by the New Jersey Casino Control Commission this week. Caesars, which runs three casino brands in Atlantic City, will now be able to lease its properties under a Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganisation.

UK gets real money betting apps via Google Play Store

The UK Gambling Commission and the Competition and Markets Authority have confirmed popular bookmakers, Ladbrokes and William Hill, are among five operators under investigation. The joint probe launched last October revealed the bookies breached consumer law by offering unfair free bet offers and sign-up bonuses.

Google in the UK has also announced it has lifted the ban on real money betting apps from the Google Play Store. Android users in the country, as well as other European countries, can download real money bookmaker app for the first time in seven years.

Ireland clarifies minimum gambling age

The Irish government has raised the minimum age for those allowed to enter gambling venues from 16 to 18. The approved bill will amend the Gaming and Lotteries Act 1956 which allows 16-year olds to enter gaming venues where slot machines are present. It also clarifies that an individual must be 18-years old to participate in lotteries and raffles.

Malta gaming regulator suggests reforms for the gambling industry

The Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) released a white paper proposing a number of reforms to the country’s gambling industry. The reforms include a single piece of legislation replacing all other laws, known as the Gaming Act. The Act would replace the multi-license system with two types of licenses, including a B2C and a B2B license. The latter would be exempt from gaming tax. Additionally, improved legal processes would be introduced.

Belgium to add more restrictions on gambling industry

Following the recent anti-gambling proposals by the Minister of Justice Koen Geens, the Christian Democratic and Flemish Party (CDV) has proposed more restrictions on Belgium’s licensed gambling industry. The CDV is calling for an age limit increase from 18 to 21 on all forms of gambling in the country, including sports betting, casino and lottery. Representatives of the CDV have also requested a review of the Gambling Act 2009 to combat offshore online gambling companies targeting Belgian gamblers.

India could make cricket betting a skill-based game

Multiple responses have been submitted to the Law Commission in India after it requested a public consultation on the legalisation of sports betting in the country. The most recent response has been delivered in the form of a white paper. It recommends the Indian government to create a central piece of legislation. The white paper also advises that the legislation legalises online skill-based games. Additionally, it recommends categorising cricket betting as a skill-based game.

Kenya online betting site refutes exit claims

Kenya’s bookmaker, Sportpesa, has had an interesting week with reports emerging the betting company would withdraw from the country if the tax hike was not scrapped. President Uhuru Kenyatta signed a uniform tax rate of 35 percent for all betting and gambling companies in the country two weeks ago. Sportpesa acted fast and revealed it would be pulling its Kenyan sponsorships in 2018 as a result. Then earlier this week reports emerged the betting company would be withdrawing from Kenya completely due to comments by the firm’s Global Chief Executive Officer, Gerasim Nikolov. But the firm has released a statement explaining that his comments had been taken out of context.

China commences crackdown on VPNs

While China has released some of the Crown Resorts employees, it has moved its anti-gambling focus online. The government has reportedly ordered Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to block access to virtual private networks (VPNs). VPNs are tools used by people who want to gain access to restricted sites, such as online gambling sites. Media outlets have reported the government has ordered local services providers such as China Unicom, China Mobile, and China Telecom to block individuals from using VPNs by February 1. ISPs are liable for customer conduct so it is highly likely they will comply.

Philippines-licensed operators to face constant review

The Philippines Amusement and Gaming Corporation has announced gambling operators which have been licensed by the country will receive increased on-site monitoring. The new Philippine Offshore Gaming Operator (POGO) licensees will be subjected to review regarding operations and gaming activities to ensure they meet licensing requirements.

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