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European Gaming Congress 2024

Compliance Updates

UKGC: Games warning for online operators

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Online gambling operators are being reminded to check that their games meet transparency and safety standards expected by the Gambling Commission.

The reminder follows discovery that six operators were offering products providing ‘feature buy-in’ facilities on slots style games. This facility gave consumers the option of staking significant amounts of money to access the bonus feature without playing the initial stages of the game. One game was charging more than £3,000 to enter the bonus feature.

The Commission’s remote gambling and software technical standards contain the following requirements:

  • RTS requirement 3A: An explanation of the applicable rules must be easily available to the customer before they commit to gamble. The content including artwork and text must be accurate, and sufficient to explain all of the applicable rules and how to participate. All reasonable steps must be taken to ensure that the content is understandable.
  • RTS requirement 14A: Gambling products must not actively encourage customers to chase their losses, increase their stake or increase the amount they have decided to gamble, or continue to gamble after they have indicated that they wish to stop.

All six operators contacted regarding use of the ‘feature buy in’ element have now removed it from their sites.

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Compliance Updates

Amid Public Outcry, Montenegro’s Anti – Digital Gambling Law Set for August Revisions

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In January 2024, Montenegro enacted amendments to its gambling laws that effectively ban the use of modern electronic payment methods, including Apple Pay, PayPal, mobile banking, IPS, and e-banking. This move has raised eyebrows across the global financial community, including the European betting and iGaming sectors.

Public Outcry and Anticipated Changes Expected in August

The controversial ban led to significant public outcry and industry backlash. In response, a new version of the law is allegedly expected in August, yet remains to be seen whether it will address some of these concerns.

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The Montenegro EU Paradox

Ironically, a few months ago, the case gained media focus and went viral after the Minister of Finance stated that the country has no obligation to comply with EU rules. This paradoxical stance is surprising for a nation actively seeking EU membership and aiming to integrate into the digital business world.

Historical Context

In 2021, the European Commission urged Montenegro to strengthen its efforts to counter money laundering. However, the January 2024 amendments seem to move in the opposite direction, potentially isolating the country from EU practices and global financial community trends.

Industry Response

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Since the beginning of 2024, Montenegro’s gambling sector has been in turmoil. The amendments, which force bettors to use cash or specific terminals for transactions, have caused significant inconvenience. This has led to business disruptions and investor uncertainty.

The industry has responded strongly against these changes. A petition to halt the amendments received 25,000 signatures in just five days. Montenegro Bet, the country’s trade association, has submitted the petition to the assembly and initiated a constitutional review. They are also engaging with international institutions to highlight the negative impacts of the law changes.

Massive Lawsuits Ahead

Multiple operators are preparing legal action, including a lawsuit before the International Court for Settlement of Investment Disputes, due to the apparent corruptive practices and unequal market access facilitated by the new law.

Looking Ahead

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As August approaches, the industry and public are hopeful for revisions to the law that will align Montenegro with EU standards and global financial trends. The prohibition of safe and advanced online payment methods, in favor of promoting cash transactions, remains a troubling development that demands urgent attention and action.

 

The post Amid Public Outcry, Montenegro’s Anti – Digital Gambling Law Set for August Revisions appeared first on European Gaming Industry News.

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Central Europe

Navigating International Regulatory Landscapes: A Guide for Expanding iGaming Businesses

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Boris Pashnev, CEO of Alpha Affiliates

Taking an iGaming business global opens up vast possibilities for expansion and progress. However, along with new markets and opportunities, comes the complex regulatory landscapes of different countries. To ensure a smooth and compliant expansion, businesses must familiarise themselves with international legal frameworks and understand regulatory considerations. Still, it is much easier said than done.

As a business working closely with iGaming brands, we at Alpha Affiliates have first hand experience expanding within these new regulatory landscapes. We have helped several iGaming operators and affiliates to grow their businesses and comply with the regulations in various jurisdictions. Moreover, in the last year, we have successfully expanded our own business into new geographical markets, including France, Italy, Belgium, Greece, Norway, Slovenia, Slovakia, and Hungary. This expansion not only broadened our global reach but also ensured a more comprehensive and inclusive gaming experience for iGaming enthusiasts worldwide.

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This is the hope for many aspiring iGaming operators looking to go global. So, how can businesses successfully navigate new regulations when expanding their business globally?

 

Make regulation your team’s number one priority

In the iGaming world, regulations must be the cornerstone of your business strategy to going global. You need to go in with the mindset that it isn’t just about compliance – it’s about building a sustainable, reputable business. Only with this mindset, can you successfully launch an iGaming business, and develop long-term trust and support from regulators and consumers alike.

By making regulation your foundation, you’re sure to be on track for success. Of course, for any CEO, this starts by looking to the regulatory experts, and putting together a dedicated compliance team who can manage and advise on the regulatory landscape in the region you are looking to expand into.

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For instance, in the case of licensing, operators should seek assistance from their in-house legal departments who can ensure licensing application requirements to be met and the corporate structure to be set up properly. This way they can prevent making any mistakes when switching their operations to comply with the new guidelines and ensure that they set up a well equipped and responsible environment for their players.

By having a dedicated team focused on regulation, operators can confidently and consistently ensure their operations meet regulatory guidelines within new regions.

 

Remain flexible and embrace new frameworks

Regulation is always subject to review and change  – it’s a natural part of progress to ensure consumers, and businesses are better served and protected.

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We saw this most recently with Curaçao’s new regulation known as the National Ordinance for Games of Chance, or LOK, which set out new requirements for anti-money laundering, fraud prevention and player protection. The LOK framework changes brought new change, and with that new considerations for iGaming operators to address. Operators had to reflect and adjust the ways in which they disclose certain information, ensure data protection, address anti-money laundering, privacy measures for gaming and monitoring tactics.

Alongside the regulatory changes, the licensing fees also increased, in order to foster a safer and more responsible environment. And the licensing process changed too. The Gaming Control Board (GCB) opened the new licensing portal on September 1st earlier last year, leaving iGaming companies with two options – to either apply for new licences and follow the regulations outlined in the LOK, or register as sublicensees.

This is a prime example of how quickly things can change, and the need to remain flexible and ready to adapt when expanding into different regions. To stay ahead, it’s important to conduct regular regulatory assessments, budget for potential increases in licensing fees and develop flexible systems that can adapt to new requirements.

Consider creating a regulatory roadmap for each market you’re entering and operating in, from the current requirements, anticipated changes, plus your strategy for addressing them.

 

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Take responsibility: Prioritise player protection

Remember that any international authority or regulator will want to see that player protection is not only met, but prioritised. After all, responsible gaming isn’t just a regulatory requirement, it’s a business imperative.

Ensuring your operations develop comprehensive responsible gaming policies, including self-exclusion programmes, session time limits, and staff training in identifying and addressing problematic iGaming behaviours, will be key.

At Alpha Affiliates, we encourage users to act conscientiously by providing a safe and organised platform to advertise their offerings. We are committed to ensuring responsible gaming is upheld in our services globally and make sure to follow regulations, only expanding into regions in which iGaming is properly regulated.

It’s crucial to consider how you can improve your policies to better protect players – as this will be a number one concern for regulators internationally. We implement industry-standard measures for players who want to control their gambling habits. These include applying various limits on losses, deposits and bets. In addition, we make sure to display reminders for the amount of time spent in a casino and for players to take a step back to step away and cool off. I’d encourage other operators to do the same.

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Be patient and carefully lay down the groundwork

Launching abroad successfully takes a well-thought-out and well-planned strategy. It also requires a lot of patience. “Getting your ducks in a row”, and laying down the groundwork will take time and intricate planning.

Starting the process early is important. When it comes to international expansion, regulation is a huge aspect that cannot be rushed. It can be all the difference in business success, and business failure. It requires rigorous due diligence to ensure all requirements are met, and all licensing documentation is ready.

By meticulously crafting and executing a regulation-first international expansion strategy, businesses can put themselves in the best possible footing for growth globally. Regulations are important across all sectors, but in the iGaming world where adhering to tight regulation is imperative, operators must make it the foundation of all business. The path to international expansion may be complex, but with the right approach, operators can capitalise on the exciting opportunities in new markets and drive remarkable growth.

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The post Navigating International Regulatory Landscapes: A Guide for Expanding iGaming Businesses appeared first on European Gaming Industry News.

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Compliance Updates

REOPENING OF THE GCB ONLINE PORTAL FOR APPLICATIONS

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GCB Portal Re-Opening

The Curacao Gaming Control Board (GCB) is pleased to announce the reopening of the GCB Portal on July 15th 2024 at 00.01 Curacao time. The portal will once again be accepting applications and processing them under the current NOOGH legislation. B2C, B2B2C and B2B operators may all make applications.

Please be aware that we will continue to prioritise applications submitted on or before the April 30th deadline. While we accept new applications, our primary focus remains on processing those received within the original stipulated timeframe.

Portal and procedure changes

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All applicants are referred to the Application Submission Guidelines published in March 2024 on the GCB website and the application manual published on the GCB portal as the general rule with three notes:

1. An account is opened on the portal by an Official Representative of the Curacao entity who becomes the “Portal Admininistrator” and has the authority to assign other individuals “Portal User” or “Licensee Account” roles, each with their own permissions. The Portal User or Licensee Account roles can be held by any person(s) of the entity’s choosing including, for example, internal licensing departments of the operator, CSPs or authorised agents. Either the Portal User or the Licensee Account is permitted to submit the application. The Official Representative should appear in the Curacao Chamber of Commerce excerpt of the company.

An Authorisation Letter is no longer required, however the GCB retains the right to conduct due diligence on the Portal User or Licensee Account.

2. Applicants are advised that the registration of “Qualifying Persons” on the portal has been updated. Additional information must be submitted in order for the Personal Account Number (“PAN”) to be issued.

3. Applications on the portal contain real-time checklists which clarifiy the outstanding documentation of information required by the GCB to progress or complete the licensing process. Operators are advised to check the portal on a regular basis, and for expediency should upload documents on the relevant section of the portal, rather than submit them by email or messaging system.

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Depending on the nature of the issue, the GCB may either proceed with the application while addressing the matter or pause it until a satisfactory resolution is received. In certain cases, these issues may result in specific licensing conditions.

Master License Expiry.

The GCB wants to remind users that none of the the Master Licenses will be renewed after their expiration dates. The first expiration date is in August 2024, and the last is in January 2025. If the LOK is enacted before any of these expiration dates, the Master License will automatically end on the enactment date.

Certificate of Operation

Sublicensees that have applications in progress but have not yet been granted a direct license at a time that their associated Master License expires will be offered a “Certificate of Operation” as a temporary measure to facilitate continuation of operations.

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Certification of Operations will not be provided to current sublicensees whose Master License expires but do not have fully completed applications registered on the portal.

The GCB is diligently processing all licenses as quickly as possible to optimise the timing of direct license issuance in line with the order of Master License expiration. If operators have not yet received a direct license direct license at that time, the domain token will direct to the Certificate of Operation and Orange Digital Seal rather than the Green Digital Seal.

The Green Digital Seal will be issued once a direct license has been granted.

Domain management

The User Manual on the home page of the portal explains in detail how to add, remove and transfer domains. Please consult this manual as to the actions that must be taken.

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Domains are accepted with proof of domain ownership from a registry and any sale/transfer documentation if applicable.

Once a domain is added, the GCB is notified automatically and a manual verification is performed. The domain verification processwill take some days to be completed, after which the Digital Seal may be added to the domain.

Domains that are associated with an application company, but not under the governance of the Master License(s) listed on the application may be added to that application (Orange Digital Seal) but do not fall under the responsibility of the Master Licensor.

The post REOPENING OF THE GCB ONLINE PORTAL FOR APPLICATIONS appeared first on European Gaming Industry News.

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