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Compliance Updates

Hawaii’s proposed Loot Box Regulation and the ESA’s response

Niji Narayan

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Reading Time: 2 minutes

The lawmakers and policy pushers have been too much into debate and discussions about regulating premium loot boxes in paid video games. With regard to this, the U.S. Senator appealed the FTC to investigate this along with the Hawaiian lawmakers who are marching ahead to fix the regulation. Consequently, ESA responded to one of the proposed regulations that a Hawaiian representative came forward with.

As per the GamesIndustry.biz, the ESA spokesperson stated that: ”The Entertainment Software Association has responded to an inquiry about new steps in legislation being taken to address loot boxes and certain lawmakers pushing the ESRB to update the ratings to better reflect the current state of loot boxes and the potentiality of gambling in premium-priced games containing paid loot boxes.” “As an industry, we take our responsibility to consumers very seriously and continually work to create greater awareness and transparency about the wide range of in-game experiences. We strongly believe that the industry’s robust, self-regulatory efforts remain the most effective way to address these important issues, and that system has a proven and long record of doing so. Some consumers and parents may have questions about how loot boxes work, and ESA has demonstrated a commitment to providing information to guide consumers, especially parents, in their purchase decisions.”

This comes soon after a U.S. Senator held a meeting with four members of the Federal Trade Commission requesting that a thorough investigation be made in order to determine if AAA games like Forza Motorsport 7 and Star Wars: Battlefront II that contain premium loot boxes are committing predatory practices. To which the committee for the FTC gave a unanimous “Yes!”.

The Senator also reached out to the ESRB in hopes of getting the self-regulated body to examine adding warnings to the packages of video games that contain loot boxes in order to give parents the necessary information about the potential dangers of loot boxes, or at least information on what it means if a game does contain premium loot boxes.

The ESRB responded much in the same way as the Entertainment Software Association, saying that steps would be taken to look into the issue and that it has done its part in informing parents about the content contained within video games.

However, it may not matter what the ESA or the ESRB say, given that Hawaiian State Representative Chris Lee, has spearheaded bills for legislation at the House and Senate level, both of which will introduce stricter regulation on video games that contain premium loot boxes. The bills would enforce disclosures by publishers and rating boards to inform parents if a game contains randomised rewards or virtual items that can be acquired through randomised rewards for an exchange of real money. Additionally, the bills would prohibit the sale of these games to anyone under the age of 21, as loot boxes in premium games would be classified as gambling.

Prior to the legislative efforts, the ESRB, PEGI and UKIE were given opportunities to address loot boxes, but PEGI and UKIE deferred to the U.K.’s gambling commission while the ESRB adamantly denied that premium loot boxes were classified as gambling.

Niji Narayan has been in the writing industry for well over a decade or so. He prides himself as one of the few survivors left in the world who have actually mastered the impossible art of copy editing. Niji graduated in Physics and obtained his Master’s degree in Communication and Journalism. He has always interested in sports writing and travel writing. He has written for numerous websites and his in-depth analytical articles top sports magazines like Cricket Today and Sports Today. He reports gaming industry headlines from all around the globe.

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Compliance Updates

Michigan Sports Betting Legislation to be Ready by Super Bowl

Niji Narayan

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Michigan Sports Betting Legislation to be Ready by Super Bowl
Photo Source: engadget.com
Reading Time: 1 minute

 

Michigan State Rep. Brandt Iden, R-Kalamazoo, an active force behind the drive to legalize sports betting in the state following the U.S. Supreme Court order, has said he aims to complete the legalities by the Super Bowl. He said: “My goal is to have this up and running by the Super Bowl. Casinos are moving forward because they know it’s going to come to fruition at some point. If we don’t do this, we will continue to lose consumers to other states.”

Thirteen states and the District of Columbia have approved sports betting in their states since the court order. Michigan lawmakers are following suit by resurrecting an old plan.

Even though the bills had widespread support in the Legislature, they were vetoed by former Gov. Rick Snyder, who opposed the expansion of gambling in the state and feared a loss of revenue for the state lottery, from which revenues are funneled to schools.

Iden is hoping for a different outcome with a new governor in office.

The bill calls for an 8% tax on sports betting, which would generate between $8.7 million to $11.2 million in tax revenues. That’s based on a sport betting market in Michigan, both in the casinos and online, of up to $225 million.

The bill comes as the U.S. Supreme Court paved the way for legalized sports betting across the nation last year. The justices ruled that a 25-year-old federal law that has effectively prohibited sports betting outside Nevada is unconstitutional. The ruling set the stage for other states to expand legalized gambling as a source of government revenue.

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Compliance Updates

UKGC: £1.8m fine for Silverbond Enterprises

George Miller

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UKGC: £1.8m fine for Silverbond Enterprises
Reading Time: 1 minute

 

A land-based casino has received a £1.8m fine, an operator licence warning and had additional conditions added to its licence for social responsibility and money laundering failings.

Silverbond Enterprises Limited received the penalties following a Gambling Commission investigation into its Park Lane Club in Mayfair.

Social responsibility failings included not recognising the indicators of potential problem gambling such as a customer displaying violent behaviour which included threatening staff and damaging of property, a customer asking for his winnings to be transferred to his personal bank account to prevent him playing further, and a customer of the casino asking to increase the maximum amount that could be deposited by cheque.

Money laundering failings included the operator’s compliance procedures not detailing how anti-money laundering policies were to be implemented and failing to carry out enhanced due diligence on 61 customers.

Two personal management licence holders at Park Lane Club have also received formal warnings and informed they must improve their record on protecting players and preventing money laundering.

Read the Silverbond Decision Notice here for more information.

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Compliance Updates

Norsk Tipping Issues Warning on Local Polls Betting

Niji Narayan

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Norsk Tipping Issues Warning on Local Polls Betting
Reading Time: 1 minute

 

Norsk Tipping, the state-owned gambling operator in Norway, has warned against betting on the results of the country’s local elections. The company argues that it encourages manipulation of the polls.

Following a warning from the country’s gambling regulator Lotteri-og stiftelsestilsynet (Lottstift) regarding press coverage of odds offered by offshore operators, Norsk Tipping stated it would not provide markets on the municipal elections.

Norwegians across the country’s 11 municipalities are going to the polls today (9 November) to elect representatives to the country’s municipal and county councils. These bodies are responsible for education, public transport, health and elderly care and the collection of certain taxes in each jurisdiction.

Norsk Tipping claimed that with due to certain municipalities and counties being sparsely populated, the chance to win money based on certain candidates winning could lead to tactical voting or corruption.

“It would be possible to [offer odds on the elections], but there are many good reasons not to,” the operator’s director of communications Tonje Sagstuen explained. “The most important thing is that if money is at stake on the outcome of local elections, it can affect both the election and its result in a number of ways.

“It could affect how you vote yourself [and] it allows for […] manipulation,” Sagstuen said. “In other words, gambling can affect, directly or indirectly, who gets into power in your municipality.”

 

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