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Netherlands Lawmakers Insist on 29% Tax to Legalize Online Gambling

August 25th, 2014 by

Netherlands lawmakers are discussing a new bill that would legalize online gambling. Most Members of Parliament support the initiative, but disagreement over taxes has stalled discussions.

The bill states that online gaming providers would need to pay a 20% tax rate on all online gambling revenues. However, the Social Democrat Party of the Netherlands feels that rate is far too low. Party leaders have said that support is contingent on a 29% consumption tax on all online gambling revenues. They said that the lower tax rate would give online gaming providers a disparate advantage over land-based casinos.

Other lawmakers feel the proposed 20% tax rate is ideal. They are concerned that higher taxes would be devastating for smaller online gaming operators that can’t afford those taxes. They said that the higher taxes would cause more problems than it solve. A source that is familiar with the new proposals warned that a 29% tax would drive many consumers to unregulated black market gaming sites.

Some lawmakers even feel that the proposed 20% tax rate is too high. They have suggested lowering it to 10% to ensure enough gaming providers participate in the new market. Paddy Power and a number of other online gaming providers have warned that they won’t be able to offer their services in the Netherlands if the tax isn’t reduced further.

Many industry experts hoped that Parliament would pass the bill by the end of the week. Lawmakers are unlikely to meet that time frame, unless gridlock over the new tax rate is resolved. Online gaming providers are discouraged with the holdup, but would rather wait for the government to agree on a fair tax rate.

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Singapore Considers Using French Online Poker Model

August 20th, 2014 by

Singapore lawmakers have expressed an interest in regulating online poker. They feel that the French regulatory model has worked well and would like to emulate it. The country’s government officials recently consulted with leaders from ARJEL, the French gaming regulator.

Singapore government officials feel that a strict regulatory model would be ideal. They have said that ARJEL’s system has worked out better than its counterparts in other parts of the world. However, many French poker players have disagreed. They have stated that high taxes and draconian regulations have driven many players onto gray market gaming sites. Data from PokerScout and ARJEL shows that nearly one in ten players is using unregulated offshore gaming providers.

ARJEL leaders deny that their regulations have contributed to the decline in the nation’s online poker market. They feel that industry has lost its novelty factor, which has caused players to lose interest. However, statements from many players indicate otherwise. Jueline Ferey, a renowned poker coach and player, said that enthusiasm is actually growing as the industry matures.

Nevertheless, Ferey is worried that the market has declined over the past couple years. He said that the problem is that the regulations are overly restrictive. He said that ARJEL will need to loosen standards to help the industry thrive.

Singapore lawmakers are still debating the best way to regulate the industry. They acknowledge that the French system may not be perfect, but feel that it seems to offer better player protections than the models in other parts of Europe. They haven’t drafted a formal online gambling bill yet, but are expected to introduce one in the coming year.

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Portugal to Create Compulsive Gambler Blacklist

August 18th, 2014 by

Portugal recently announced that it released its plans to liberalize online gaming. The new plan is encouraging to players that have been waiting for the government to regulate the online gaming industry. However, the new regulations also include some strict guidelines that players will need to be aware of. The government will establish a national blacklist of compulsive gamblers.

Many countries have created blacklists of online gaming providers. However, Portugal is possibly the only jurisdiction to create a state organized blacklist for players. Online gambling providers would need to keep track of compulsive gamblers and share their names with their competitors. The new blacklist would include the names, ages and social security numbers of all banned players. People on the blacklist would be ineligible to create new accounts or make deposits to online gaming sites.

The Portuguese government acknowledged that the new measure is very strict, but said that it was necessary to protect players. Lawmakers argue that compulsive gambling is a serious problem in Portugal and want to take all necessary measures to fight it.

The media has heavily criticized the government for failing to deal with problem gambling over the last few years. Lawmakers have apparently created a mo blacklist in response to those arguments. However, it is unclear whether the solution will be as effective as the government intends. Critics have stated that casinos have chosen to ignore similar blacklists for players using brick-and-mortar casinos.

Online gaming operators that offer services to citizens on the blacklist face severe consequences, including possible imprisonment and hefty fines. The government hasn’t stated whether players would face any consequences for legalizing online gambling.

 

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New Norway Poker Laws Will Allow for National Poker Event

August 14th, 2014 by

The government of Norway is considering liberalizing the gambling industry. The Ministry of Culture recently recommended allowing licensed operators to offer home poker games and tournaments. Experts from Pokerfuse.com and TightPoker.com are encouraged by the announcement and believe lawmakers may be more inclined to legalize online poker in the future.

Lawmakers have taken a more favorable view of online gambling since the end of last year. Ola “Odd Oddsen” Amundsrud, one of the country’s most successful poker players, played a 10k hand competition against Deputy Representative of Parliament Erlend Wiborg. Amundsrud proved that poker was a game of skill, which could help encourage lawmakers to legalize it in the future.

Norwegian poker players should be encouraged by the news. They have been forced to travel to other countries to participate in annual poker tournaments. They would rather have the opportunity to participate in a tournament in their own country. The new tournaments will need to be implemented on a small scale. The Ministry of Culture recommends capping each event to ten players and limiting the buy-in to 500 Kroner. Some players may not appreciate these new policies, but appreciate that it is a step towards more liberal poker laws.

Many players have also expressed interest in a regulated online poker industry and hope lawmakers launch one in the future. Several lawmakers have introduced legislation to legalize online poker. Their proposals have been postponed so that the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) can evaluate them. The delay may actually be beneficial for online poker advocates, because lawmakers may be more likely to pass the bill if the national poker tournament works out.

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Online Poker May Be Legal in Portugal

August 12th, 2014 by

The Portuguese government has spent the past year discussing plans to regulate online gambling. The Ministry of Economics recently approved the final draft of a bill to legalize the market. The Ministry will soon submit the law to Parliament and announced that the new law could be enacted as soon as July 10.

Luís Marques Guedes, the Minister of the Presidency and of Parliamentary Affairs, said that the new law has been a long time coming. He said that the law was initially supposed to be introduced to the national assembly on November 2013. It was delayed twice before the Ministry of Economics finally gave it a stamp of approval.

Guedes said that parliament is finally ready to cast a vote on the legislation. He said that the government plans to refer the proposed legislation to them in the next few weeks for a vote. He doesn’t foresee any problems that would force them to delay it again.

The original draft of the bill began circulating about seven months ago. The original plan appears to have been to have Santa Casa da Misericórdia, a state-controlled charity founded in 1498, be the sole gaming provider. However, the nation’s economic problems have forced lawmakers to consider other solutions.

Portugal currently has a debt-GDP ratio of nearly 130%. The country is struggling to raise more revenue to avoid taking a EU bailout that would require it impose strict austerity measures. Creating a more liberal online gambling industry would allow it to generate more taxes from regulated online gambling providers.

Guedes and Deputy Prime Minister Paulo Portas have indicated that the country is going to be offering online gambling on the free market to maximize tax revenues. They seem to feel that Parliament will need to support the new legislation to avoid implementing new austerity measures.

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Harvard Law Professor Claims California Bad Actors Clause Violates Constitution

August 11th, 2014 by

California lawmakers are about to deliberate two bills that would legalize online gambling. Both proposals include bad actors provisions, which would bar PokerStars and other providers that violated the UIGEA from receiving online gambling licenses. The proposals have been heavily criticized by the online gambling community and the Morongo Band of Mission Indians. An esteemed Harvard Law professor has also spoken against the proposals, claiming that they violate the United States Constitution.

Professor Laurence H. Tribe has been a constitutional law professor at Harvard Law School since 1968. He is also the author of American Constitutional Law and is a cofounder of the American Constitution Society. His views are highly respected by his colleagues and lawmakers across the country.

He said that there are a number of reasons that the legislation would violate the constitution. Tribe said that the primary concern is that the law assumes guilt without due process. PokerStars accepted a deal to settle civil charges with the Department of Justice last year. Since the company was never found guilty of the charges in court, Tribe said that it would be unconstitutional to hold pass a law that barred it from offering online gambling services in California or any other jurisdiction in the country.

 

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UK Consumers Concerned Over Increasing Online Gambling Advertisements

August 8th, 2014 by

The United Kingdom’s online gambling market has grown significantly over the past few years. A recent report from CalvinAyre.com shows that the industry is experiencing double digit growth rates and is expected to be worth £2.5 billion in the near future. Most consumers have a favorable view of the online gambling industry, but appear to be worried that it is being promoted too heavily.

A recent poll from IgnitionOne and ComRes found that two thirds of citizens are worried about the growing number of online gambling ads. Over 2,000 people were polled in the recent study. Nearly a third of them were regular gamblers. The majority of the respondents reported seeing more ads in both digital and traditional media.

IgnitionOne and ComRes also spoke with nearly a dozen marketing executives from the online gambling industry. These experts acknowledged that they were investing more heavily in marketing. They said that demand for online gambling was steadily growing and emphasized the importance of reaching the right customers.

The report highlighted the most effective mediums for online gambling providers to reach their target market. This research sheds some light on the reasons some types of media are generating more online gambling advertisements than others. The report stated that television is still an effective way to reach customers. However, the cost of advertising through television is very high, which is why marketers want to focus on organic online marketing strategies.

While some consumers express concerns over online gambling practices, the report also highlighted some positive things about the industry future. The research showed that about half of people would probably wager on a website that spending money on fighting gambling addictions. A similar percentage expressed that they would be more likely to spend money on a site that donated money to charity.

This information shows that the industry has an incentive to be socially conscience. The free market itself may encourage the industry to help fight problem gambling and serve the greater good, which could reduce the need for regulatory interventions down the road.

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Regulatory Reasons Force Betfred to Abandon A Dozen Gaming Markets

August 4th, 2014 by

Betfred is one of the largest bookmaking companies in the world. The UK-based company has over 1,300 betting centers in a variety of countries. However, Betfred recently stated that it will need to scale back on the services that it offers in some countries. The company also intends to abandon some markets altogether. A spokesperson cited regulatory issues as the basis for the decision.

Betfred announced its decision in a PokerStrategy forum thread on June 9 and said that it is already discontinuing services in those jurisdictions. The company said that will no longer be offering its services in over a dozen countries that it has previously operated in.

The countries that it has pulled from include Germany, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Canada, the Czech Republic, Romania, Denmark and Portugal. Lazza61, the moderator that posted the update on Betfred’s behalf, said that the list may not be complete. He said that it will be updated in the future if more blocked countries are reported.

Betfred’s decision to leave the UK market was surprising, because the company generates a considerable amount of revenue there. The decision was probably made due to some significant regulatory changes that were made over the past year.

Many forum members at PokerStrategy were taken back by the news. Some of the posters were expecting Betfred to withdraw from some markets, but didn’t expect the blacklist to be so long. Some were initially concerned that all gaming operators on the iPoker network would withdraw from those sites as well, but the moderators assured them that Betfred was the only company that chose to leave those markets. PartyStrategy is expected to inform its members if other companies pull from those markets.

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GoalGaming Faces License Suspensions in Malta

August 1st, 2014 by

GoalGaming Limited may soon be barred from operating in the Maltese online gambling market. A new notice from the Maltese Lotteries and Gaming Authority (LGA) said that the regulator plan to suspend all licenses issued to GoalGaming. The LGA’s notice didn’t state whether the suspensions would be temporary or indefinite, but the news is discouraging for the online gaming operator either way.

The basis for the suspensions is rumored to be due to liquidity problems. A player and affiliate discussed the problem on Two Plus Two over four months ago. The poster said that GoalGaming had made considerable progress overcoming the issues that it faced. He also said that GoalGaming wasn’t at fault. The problems were reportedly caused by third-party companies failing to pay their bills.

Most players have been more pessimistic. They said that they have been having difficulties with withdrawals since the beginning of 2013. Many of them are anxiously trying to get their money back from the three gaming sites that GoalGaming operates.

Players are urged to contact the LGA immediately to make withdrawals. The regulator said that it will do everything possible to repay players in a timely manner. In order to process the payments, the LGA said that it will need the following information:

  • Player’s full name
  • Place of residence
  • Date of birth
  • Document showing proof of identity
  • Telephone number
  • Username for the site in question
  • A screenshot to prove the current account balance

GoalGaming isn’t the only company that is facing IP problems. Win Cake, one of the skins on the Revolution Network, has also encountered some liquidity problems. The company recently announced that it plans to change its name after forming a new partnership. However, Win Cake may still lose its license if the liquidity problems aren’t resolved in the very near future.

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EU Court Sides With Germany Over Online Gambling Regulations

July 28th, 2014 by

The European Union Court set an expected precedent for online gambling. The German state of Schleswig-Holstein has much more liberal online gaming laws than other jurisdictions in the country. Digibet, an online gambling provider based in Gibraltar, argued that the other states would need to loosen their gaming laws.

The German Federal Court disagreed with Digibet’s position, but felt some clarification was necessary. They referred the case to the European Union for a verdict. EU justices upheld the German court’s ruling, stating that fifteen German states wouldn’t be required to change their rules because of a single dissident. This means that other online German states will be allowed to maintain restrictive online gambling laws.

Digibet will be allowed to continue offering games of chance in Schleswig-Holstein, but it will need to stop providing them in the other jurisdictions it operates. The gaming provider will be allowed to continue offering online poker and other games of skill, but is unlikely to do so. Digibet left other German markets last year because of the high taxes they impose on online gambling providers.

The ruling was a setback for Digibet, but a ruling in its favor may not have helped much either. Schleswig-Holstein has recently announced that it will conform to the online gambling laws imposed in the fifteen other states. This would effectively make the EU court’s decision that all states need to implement the same laws irrelevant.

Many online gambling operators support Schleswig-Holstein’s laws and feel the rest of the country should emulate them. PokerStars recently received a gaming license in the state. It said that it supports the regulatory system, because it would arguably create more safeguards for players. However, many other German states maintain that their stricter online gambling laws have been effective.

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