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Compliance Updates

June 4th will be the online gaming licensing date in PA

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In a significant new development, The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) has fixed June 4th as the starting date for the submission of Interactive Gaming License applications.

The new announcement of PGCB says that all operators who want to offer any sort of online gaming platforms in the state can submit their Interactive Gaming License applications on June 4th. There will be some mandatory procedures, such as filling-up of a 59-page form, which is available at the PGCB’s website.  It is also mandatory that all applicants are required to be fingerprinted before the start of a background investigation for individual applicants and entities.

Not only will applications need to be worth US$1 million, but they will need to be partnered with a land-based casino operator in the state. Land-based casino companies will have an edge, as they will be able to build their own platform and bid by themselves – although smaller operators are expected to partner with experienced online casino software companies.

The PGCB already has work to do as it will receive applications from interactive gaming manufacturers, suppliers and service providers today. There will be a 90-day application period through mid-July for the all-in-one licence covering online slots, online table games, and online peer-to-peer gaming. Afterwards, companies that want to bid for only one kind of licence can start doing so for US$4 million each. Non-Pennsylvanian operators can apply for the individual licences after 120 days, or sometime around August.

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Australia

ACMA Blocks More Illegal Offshore Gambling Websites

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The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has requested that Australian internet service providers (ISPs) to block more illegal offshore gambling websites, after investigations found these services to be operating in breach of the Interactive Gambling Act 2001.

The latest sites blocked include A Big Candy, Jackpoty and John Vegas Casino.

Website blocking is one of a range of enforcement options to protect Australians against illegal online gambling. Since the ACMA made its first blocking request in November 2019, 995 illegal gambling and affiliate websites have been blocked.

Over 220 illegal services have also pulled out of the Australian market since the ACMA started enforcing new illegal offshore gambling rules in 2017.

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Compliance Updates

MGA: Update to Process for Addition of New Game Provider/s

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MGA: Update to Process for Addition of New Game Provider/s
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The Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) would like to notify all Licensees of some changes to the addition of new Game Providers notification process.  As from 1 August 2024, notifications of new Game Providers, submitted through the Licensee Portal via a ‘Technical – Change in Game Type/Provider’ application, need to be accompanied by the below documentation/information:

  1. The updated Key Technical setup and Essential Components documentation*.
  2. The updated Specifications of the Gaming System documentation*.
  3. A Declaration provided by a Key Person or a Director of the Licensee covering the following requirements:
  1. The formal name of the Game Provider, and the respective Authorisation Number (Licence Number/Recognition Notice Certificate Reference Number);
  2. The Services being offered by the Game Provider, including the Game Types and Verticals pertaining to the new games being offered;
  3. Any Jackpot details, including the type of jackpot that shall be offered, and the relevant jackpot policy if applicable;
  4. A confirmation that any relevant documentation has been updated, including the Business Risk Assessment (if applicable).**

If the Licensee shall be integrating with various Game Providers, a separate Declaration per Game Provider would need to be submitted, by uploading the various Declarations in the Enclosures page within the same application.  The Declaration/s should also include any further pertinent information to be notified to the Authority.  If the above information is not included within the application, such an application shall be deemed to be incomplete, and will be set to a one-time ‘Incomplete’ status.  Following this, unless the application is fully submitted within sixty (60) days, it will be closed off automatically and the Authority would not be able to process the new Game Provider/s.

Although the agreement(s) between the Licensee and the Game Providers are not required when a Declaration is submitted, the Authority shall still reserve the right to request the agreement(s) between the parties, if and when deemed necessary.

* If the integration with the third-party game provider(s) does not necessitate any changes to the technical documentation or to the gaming system specifications, the Licensee can submit a declaration attesting that no changes to the mentioned documentation will be required.

** In line with the Implementing Procedures, the Licensee is reminded to update the Business Risk Assessment whenever new game providers are added, based on the risk exposure, to determine how any additional related risks can be mitigated to an acceptable level following the integration.

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Asia

Fintechs in Kazakhstan Raises Concerns Over Proposed Gambling Regulation

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Fintech companies in Kazakhstan are urging greater scrutiny of a proposed law intended to regulate betting transactions in the country.

The submitted legislation, currently in its final reading, would form a monopoly entity, the Unified Accounting System (UAS), the firms said in a joint press release. The UAS would be used to determine market participants, process payments, maintain a single “electronic wallet” and make settlements with clients. A critical concern is that it could charge up to 1.5% in commissions on all market transactions, within a market where regulated transactions exceed KZT1.2tn ($2.6bn) annually.

Irina Davidenko, a spokesperson for Kazakhstan’s payments industry, commented: “The proposed legislation would be a step backwards for Kazakhstan, harming competition in the country’s vital payments sector and signaling to the outside world that necessary business reform is being driven by shadowy interests, rather than what’s right for industries and consumers.”

The proposal, partly billed as a public health move against problem gambling, resembles a previous initiative, the Betting Accounting Centre (BAC). It was shelved in 2021 after a scandal involving a deputy minister who was dismissed for accepting bribes from BAC lobbyists, according to the press release.

The lack of transparency on the UAS structure and ownership as outlined in the legislation is another aspect of the change that is seen by critics as troubling.

The reintroduction of a UAS model occurred as late as the second reading of the legislation. If passed by parliament, it will become law without the comprehensive impact analysis and scrutiny typical for such significant regulatory change.

Observers argue the new regulation duplicates existing regulatory functions already managed by Kazakh state bodies and was proposed without the cooperation of the National Bank of Kazakhstan. The central bank has previously developed its own reform proposal that avoids introducing a monopolistic entity.

Opponents further contend that the regulation could cause “significant economic damage”. National Bank of Kazakhstan representatives and the payments industry have sounded alarm bells, but the issues have not been adequately addressed, the press release added.

The concerned fintech and payment companies want the legislation to be reconsidered. They are advocating for it to be sent back to the lower house of the legislature for a full regulatory impact analysis and thorough examination to ensure that it does not adversely affect industry or the economy.

Ilya Efimenko, commercial director of the payment organisation PayDala, said: “I appeal to the Senators, who need to know the true purpose of why the UAS has made a comeback in the bill.

“This is a re-emergence of the ‘Betting Accounting Center’ (BAC), a strikingly similar entity that was withdrawn before, and behind which, as the deputy from the Amanat party Elnur Beisenbayev said, are the powerful forces of ‘Old Kazakhstan.’

“Before our eyes, a monopolist, a private operator, is being created. The emergence of monopolies such as the UAS threatens the principles of a Fair Kazakhstan. Now everything is being done to break the financial system of Kazakhstan, recognized by experts as one of the best in Central Asia.”

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