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European Gaming Congress 2024

Compliance Updates

Understanding the World of Sports Betting Licences

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In the exhilarating world of sports betting, where fortunes can change with the swing of a ball, trust and legitimacy are paramount. This is where the concept of a betting licence comes into play. A betting licence serves as the proverbial badge of honour for sports betting companies, assuring both customers and regulatory authorities of their authenticity and commitment to fair play.

Issued by a gambling committee, a betting licence is a tangible proof of a sportsbook’s legitimacy and adherence to stringent regulations. It is more than just a piece of paper; it’s a commitment to ethics, integrity and customer protection. In this article, KT Group (https:// kioskterminals .com) delves into the intricacies of betting licences, exploring their significance, history and how they vary on opposite sides of the Atlantic.

Getting to grips with United States sports betting licences

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Most states that have opened their doors to sports betting have adopted a hierarchical licensing structure. This framework imposes licensing requirements on sportsbook operators as well as on the companies that offer goods and services to these operators. This dual-tiered approach often includes an ‘operator licence’ for sportsbook operators along with either a ‘supplier licence’ or a ‘vendor registration’ for the companies in the sports betting ecosystem.

The reach of these vendor and supplier licensing requirements is extensive, casting a wide net that in some states encompasses virtually any business entity that engages with a licensed sportsbook operator. The extent of this reach is exemplified by the fact that in certain states even law firms and advertising/media agencies providing services to sportsbook operators must obtain licences.

Adding another layer of complexity, some states have divided the vendor and supplier licences into distinct categories: a higher-level ‘supplier’ (or ‘vendor major’) licence for providers whose services directly impact sportsbook operations and a lower-level ‘vendor registration’ licence for those whose services have a less direct impact. Providers navigating these regulations often find themselves grappling with the task of categorising their services and determining the appropriate licence, which can be particularly challenging in the absence of clear-cut guidelines.

To further complicate matters, licensing rules in many states incorporate ‘catch-all’ provisions, granting regulators the discretion to determine on a case-by-case basis how a specific provider should be licensed. This discretion adds an element of unpredictability, making it essential for businesses to engage with regulatory authorities and legal counsel to navigate the complex terrain of sports betting licences in the United States.

The state of play

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An increasing number of states recognise the potential revenue and entertainment value it offers. Some of the early adopters include Delaware and New Jersey, both of which legalised sports betting in 2018. These states paved the way for others to follow suit, showcasing the feasibility and benefits of a regulated sports betting industry.

Building on the foundation laid by the early adopters, several states further expanded their sports betting offerings in 2020 and 2021. Colorado and Montana joined the ranks of legalised sports betting in 2020 followed by Arizona, Connecticut, Louisiana, Nebraska, North Dakota and Virginia in 2021. These states embraced both retail and mobile betting, demonstrating a growing acceptance of sports wagering as a legitimate form of entertainment and a potential source of revenue.

The momentum has continued in 2022 and 2023 as Kansas welcomed online sports betting. Vermont, while having legalised sports betting, is expected to launch online platforms in late-2023 or early-2024. States such as Massachusetts and Ohio also entered the fray, showcasing the industry’s dynamic growth.

While some states have firmly established their presence in the sports betting and lottery arena, others are still in the midst of legislative deliberations or have proposed bills in the works. States like Florida, Georgia, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, South Carolina and Texas are actively considering the legalisation of sports betting. These states are evaluating the potential benefits and regulatory frameworks that would best suit their unique circumstances.

On the opposite side, there are states where sports betting remains off the table. States like Alabama, Alaska, California, Hawaii, Idaho and Utah have either opted against legalisation or are yet to fully embrace the industry. While some may cite moral or regulatory concerns, others may be waiting to observe the experiences of their neighbours before making a decision.

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With each passing year, the map of sports betting legalisation in the United States continues to evolve, offering a fascinating glimpse into the intersection of entertainment, revenue generation and regulatory complexity.

Europe and beyond

Europe stands as a prominent sports betting player with a tapestry of regulations and licensing authorities. At the forefront of European sports betting regulation is the United Kingdom, a jurisdiction renowned for its robust regulatory framework.

The United Kingdom’s gambling laws, including the Gambling Act 2005 and the Gambling Bill 2014, meticulously govern the industry. These laws, which have seen amendments over the years to keep pace with the evolving betting landscape, serve as the backbone of the United Kingdom’s gambling regulation.

Enforcing these laws with a vigilant eye is the United Kingdom’s Gambling Commission. This regulatory authority is celebrated for its unwavering commitment to strict oversight, making it a trusted name in the world of betting licences. The Gambling Commission ensures that operators adhere to stringent guidelines, promoting a fair and safe betting environment for all participants.

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Moreover, the Gambling Commission provides a platform for customer recourse. Individuals with complaints about betting operators can register their grievances with the Gambling Commission that, in turn, can facilitate dispute resolution through alternative dispute resolution providers.

Beyond the shores of the United Kingdom, there is an array of betting jurisdictions, each with its own set of regulations and licensing bodies. Some of the prominent licensing authorities include the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA), the Kahnawake Gaming Commission and Curacao.

It’s important to note, however, that these regulatory bodies do not mediate disputes between players and operators, protect deposited funds or provide legal advice. Their primary focus is on establishing a framework that encourages responsible gambling and ensures that operators comply with the rules.

These regulatory bodies play a pivotal role in issuing licences, regulating sports betting companies and overseeing their operations. They share a common goal: ensuring the fairness of games, safeguarding vulnerable individuals and maintaining the industry’s integrity.

The Chief Executive Officer for KT Group, Kenneth Larsen, commented on the importance of understanding sports betting licences: “Understanding sports betting is crucial in today’s dynamic landscape, where it signifies an appreciation for the intricate web of regulations, economic impact and evolving fan engagement.

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“As more regions embrace and regulate sports betting, it becomes essential for individuals, businesses and policymakers to grasp its intricacies. Sports betting transcends mere entertainment, influencing various industries and shaping how we engage with sports. Therefore, comprehending sports betting is not just an option; it’s a necessity for navigating this evolving landscape effectively.”

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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