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Compliance Updates

Montenegro’s evolving legal landscape: recent amendments and controversies in games of chance regulation

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Montenegro’s Law on Games of Chance (the “Law”) was enacted in 2004 and has undergone multiple amendments since. The most recent ones came into effect on 1 January 2024.

The aim of the amendments, as stated by the competent authorities, is to ensure a sustainable regulatory system for organising games of chance via the internet or other telecommunication means, as well as to generate additional revenue from these activities. This objective is to be achieved through measures aimed at establishing a variable concession fee for the organisation of online games of chance, a provision not envisaged in the prior legal framework in this area. Another measure to achieve the set goal is to introduce a ban on participation in foreign games of chance via the internet and other telecommunication means for which bets are paid on the territory of Montenegro.

To achieve these objectives through the proposed measures, several amendments to the Law have been proposed and adopted:

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  • The concept of organising games of chance through the internet or other telecommunication means has been clearly defined for the first time.
  • A ban has been introduced on participation in foreign games of chance for which bets are paid within the territory of Montenegro, regarding the organisation of internet betting. Therefore, the competent authorities are now obliged to restrict access to the websites of gaming organisers who accept payments for games of chance from players in Montenegro, through the blocking of IP addresses by an independent regulatory body in the field of electronic communications, as well as the prohibition of all types of payments to foreign organisers. Furthermore, the competent authority is required to maintain and publish a list of unauthorised online gaming organisers ex officio.
  • A higher annual fixed fee per casino has been introduced, now amounting to EUR 100,000 instead of the previous EUR 50,000. Additionally, the variable fee for organising games of chance in casinos has increased from 10 % to 15 % of the base.
  • A prohibition on organising games in residential-commercial buildings has been introduced.
  • A new regulatory framework has been established for the organisation of games of chance on the internet. The most significant changes involve defining the conditions and methods of player registration and identification, as well as establishing the obligation to pay the variable portion of the concession fee for organising betting games of chance over the internet, as well as for organising games of chance in virtual casinos and online slot games. The fee is calculated at a rate of 10 % of the base, which consists of the total amount of stakes reduced by the value of payouts and is paid by the fifteenth of the month for the previous month. The fixed part of the concession fee amounts to EUR 10,000 for all the aforementioned types of games of chance organised over the internet. Additionally, with the introduction of the new Article 68f of the Law, it is stipulated that payments for organising games of chance over the internet can only be made through payment cards or at the premises where games of chance are organised in accordance with the Law.

The new legislative solution has not escaped scrutiny from interested market participants, especially regarding the controversial Article 68f. There has been particular attention in the public sphere to the reactions of associations of gaming organisers, which, through various reviews, have questioned the justification, sustainability and legality of the provision stipulating that payments for organising games of chance over the internet can only be made through payment cards or at the premises where games of chance are organised.

In response to the reaction of the association of gaming organisers, a petition was initiated, gathering over 25,000 signatures. An initiative was subsequently submitted to the Montenegrin Parliament to repeal Article 68f. In addition, another initiative was lodged with the Constitutional Court of Montenegro to review the constitutionality of Article 68f.

The competent authorities are currently processing these initiatives. Meanwhile, legal experts and the general public eagerly await more answers to these legally and practically intriguing questions in the coming period.

Source: schoenherr.eu

The post Montenegro’s evolving legal landscape: recent amendments and controversies in games of chance regulation appeared first on European Gaming Industry News.

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Compliance Updates

Sightline Selects GeoComply for Identity and Geolocation Compliance Services

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Leading fintech company Sightline has entered into an exclusive partnership with compliance and anti-fraud technology solutions leader GeoComply to bolster the security and efficiency of digital transactions within the regulated gaming industry.

Sightline will integrate GeoComply’s cutting-edge IDComply identity verification solution as well as GeoComply’s compliance-grade geolocation tools across its comprehensive suite of digital payment solutions for land-based casinos and online gaming operators.

GeoComply developed IDComply in direct response to the growing demand for an integrated solution that addresses the expanding compliance needs of the digital gaming industry. Sightline will leverage identity verification and geolocation checks at strategic points during the customer journey to validate that digital transactions comply with the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) and adhere to Office of Foreign Asset Controls (OFAC) sanctions detection and blocking requirements. The partnership will also strengthen Know Your Customer (KYC) and anti-money laundering (AML) protocols to reduce fraud such as account takeovers.

The implementation of IDComply and GeoComply Core within Sightline’s offerings is scheduled to occur over the coming months.

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“Digital payments continue to proliferate in the regulated gaming industry, and it is essential to have solutions that safely, securely, and swiftly validate customers’ identities. Implementing these tools across Sightline’s payment solutions will significantly decrease the time it takes to validate an identity and they will bolster compliance with the evolving regulations that govern digital financial transactions. Our vision is to create an omnichannel customer experience where patrons can seamlessly enroll, fund, and play their game of choice in under 180 seconds, putting gaming more in line with payments technologies in areas like retail and ecommerce,” Rose Zwirn, SVP of Business Development at Sightline, said.

“Our companies have a long history of collaboration and we’re excited to be working together to implement our GeoComply Core and IDComply solutions for Sightline’s customers. Our goal is to provide digital trust in every online transaction while opening the funnel for legitimate players and stop fraudsters from entering the digital gaming ecosystem. Working with best-in-class partners like Sightline gets us closer to that goal,” Sam Basile, VP of Business Development at GeoComply, said.

Digital wallets and transactions are becoming more common within the gaming industry, and Sightline is an indispensable and innovative partner to operators across the gaming ecosystem. Sightline will use IDComply to swiftly authenticate customer identities during signup across its platforms, simplifying cashless wagering accounts and online Play+ registrations. This move aims to address identity verification challenges, especially in areas like Nevada that require government IDs for account setup. IDComply is expected to accelerate this process, enhancing safety and user experience by reducing friction.

GeoComply’s advanced geolocation technology helps ensure regulatory compliance and is a strategic asset for gaming enterprises aiming to navigate the complex landscape of digital transactions securely and lawfully. With more than 10 billion transactions processed annually and installed on over 400 million devices worldwide, GeoComply empowers gaming enterprises to meet their compliance needs while providing a secure, trustworthy platform for their customers.

Furthermore, both Sightline and GeoComply have offices located at the Harry Reid Research and Technology Park in Las Vegas, symbolizing their joint commitment to advancing technology and compliance solutions within the gaming industry.

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Compliance Updates

Romania Bans Gambling Venues in Small Towns and Villages

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Romania has announced a ban on gambling venues in small towns and villages with populations of less than 15,000 residents.

What’s known as the “law of slot machines” was passed by deputies in the lower house of parliament. “It is the first law adopted in Parliament in 30 years against this mafia that has controlled the political world until now,” said Alfred Simonis, the leader of the Social Democrats.

“Right now we are fighting an industry that has a total turnover of €10-12 billion.”

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Industry figures complain they were not consulted, and hope that the authorities will control the black market as they promised.

Despite the unanimous vote, there was some dissent within the chamber. Two opposition parties that want to ban the “scourge” of gambling outright accuse the government of collusion with the gaming sector for not taking a stronger position.

On another front Ionut Mosteanu, the leader of the opposition USR, questioned how lawmakers had set the threshold.

“They thought that slot machines only damage 15,000 people,” he said. “There was not even a debate to see how many townships qualify for this 15,000. Why not 16, 17, why not two million and you would ban them definitively?”

Gambling venues have become ubiquitous across Romania over the last few decades. The National Gaming Office, the state body that monitors and approves the sector, has registered 12,000 sports betting, bingo, casino, lottery rooms.

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The state collects taxes from gambling venue licenses and online ticket sales as from the amount betting houses spend on advertising.

There are no recent data to indicate how many people in Romania are addicted to gambling. The last survey was conducted in 2016, and found that there could be around 100,000 addicted people across the country. The number today could be much higher.

The post Romania Bans Gambling Venues in Small Towns and Villages appeared first on European Gaming Industry News.

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Compliance Updates

Bet on Compliance: Navigating the Stakes with the UK’s Affordability Checks

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By Isabelle Zanzer, Senior Regulatory Compliance Specialist at ComplianceOne Group

Feeling like the deck is stacked against you with all these talks of financial checks in gambling? Wondering if this new game plan will leave your privacy on a losing streak? If so, no need to bet on uncertainty anymore. We’re here to deal you in on the UK’s latest gamble towards responsible betting. Let’s shuffle through the details and lay our cards on the table, as we make sure you’re holding a winning hand in understanding what’s in play. Ready to roll the dice and dive in? Follow me.

On July 26, 2023, the UK Gambling Commission launched consultations on proposed reforms in the Gambling White Paper, focusing on areas like direct marketing, age verification, game design, and financial risk checks. This article delves into the latter, highlighting new financial vulnerability and risk assessments to safeguard customers.

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The UK’s consultation introduces two checks for gambling: light-touch financial vulnerability checks and detailed financial risk assessments. The first tier of checks is designed to identify financial vulnerabilities such as bankruptcy orders or significant debts, using publicly available data. The second tier involves enhanced financial risk assessments triggered by significant losses, requiring more comprehensive scrutiny of a customer’s financial situation.

Thus, in simple terms, what is going to happen at the heart of the UKGC’s new measures are two-tiered affordability checks designed to assess the financial vulnerability and risk of consumers engaging in online gambling. The first tier involves unintrusive checks that will be triggered when a customer reaches a specified net loss within a rolling period, using publicly available data to identify potential financial vulnerabilities. To dive a little deeper, this check will be conducted if a customer either has net losses of £125 in a rolling 30 days or £500 within a rolling 365 days. It would need to include “at a minimum a customer-specific public record information check for significant indicators of potential financial vulnerability”, including whether the customer is subject to things such as a bankruptcy order, county court judgment, or individual voluntary arrangement. Net loss would be defined as loss of deposited monies with an operator, not counting restacked winnings or bonus funds.

The second tier represents a more detailed assessment of financial risk, which is activated at higher loss thresholds. A comprehensive financial review is required for gamblers with significant losses, examining their financial data including credit status and spending. If third-party data is unavailable, operators may directly seek customer consent for access, ensuring a thorough understanding of financial health.

The gambling industry’s reception of these checks has been cautiously optimistic, particularly regarding the initial, less invasive tier. However, the prospect of more detailed financial assessments has sparked debate, not only among operators but also among consumers wary of privacy infringement.

As the UK gambling sector adapts to these new regulations, the challenge will be to strike an optimal balance between safeguarding consumers and maintaining the operational viability of gambling platforms. The pilot study represents a critical step in this process, offering valuable insights into the practical implications of affordability checks and the potential need for adjustments in response to industry feedback and consumer concerns.

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The outcome of the pilot study and subsequent parliamentary debates are pivotal in shaping the future of affordability checks in the UK gambling sector. As operators, regulators, and consumers navigate these changes, the overarching goal remains clear: to foster a safer, more responsible gambling environment that protects consumers from financial harm while ensuring the industry’s sustainable growth.

Striking the right balance in the new UK gambling regulations is like walking a tightrope. With the introduction of light-touch and in-depth financial risk assessments, operators may face the challenge of protecting players without overstepping into their privacy. These two-tiered checks aim to shield those at risk, using both public data and deeper financial insights.

The key here for operators will be to navigate these waters carefully, ensuring player safety while keeping the game fair and enjoyable. Now, when trying to find a balancing act, we need to consider the following:

  1. Regulatory Compliance Risk: Reviewing the existing practices against the UKGC’s affordability check guidelines, identifying discrepancies, and recommending changes to align with the new regulations.
  2. Data Privacy and Security Risk: Evaluating the ability to handle and protect sensitive financial data in line with GDPR and other data protection laws.
  3. Operational Risk: Assessing the impact of the new checks on daily operations and customer interactions.
  4. Financial Risk: Analysing the potential financial implications of the affordability checks on revenue and customer base.
  5. Reputational Risk: Considering the public and customer perception of the affordability checks, especially regarding privacy concerns, the key here, like in all relationships, is communication. For example, it is estimated that just the very highest spending 3 percent of accounts would undergo financial risk assessments. Most financial risk assessments – at least 80 percent – would be carried out through credit reference agencies. The checks are expected to be frictionless and not interrupt the customer journey unless concerns are raised. It is estimated that a further 10 percent of risk assessments will be done through limited data-sharing through third-party open-source banking, which is similarly straightforward from a customer perspective.

Finding this balance involves a tailored approach as one offered by ComplianceOne group, whereby operators can personalize checks based on individual player profiles, ensuring those at higher risk receive the attention they need while others continue to enjoy their play with minimal interruption. It’s about creating a safety net that catches those in need without trapping everyone else in unnecessary checks. The key to a winning strategy is the execute this balance, and understanding what is at stake: Reputation, Sustainability and Trust.

The post Bet on Compliance: Navigating the Stakes with the UK’s Affordability Checks appeared first on European Gaming Industry News.

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