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Compliance Updates

UKGC Issues Stricter Consumer Protection Rules for Lockdown

Niji Narayan

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UKGC Issues Stricter Consumer Protection Rules for Lockdown
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The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has published more stringent rules for online operators for protecting customers during lock down. The new set of rules come after new evidence has surfaced that show some gamblers maybe at greater risk of harm during lockdown. The new guidelines deal with the need for affordability checks, prevention of reverse withdrawals and restrictions on bonus offers.

The Commission had collected data through the gambling industry and also through YouGov surveys. The data show that during lockdown gambling participation is down overall. This reflects the closure of land based venues and the cancellation of sporting events, with only a small number of people starting to gamble for the first time.

Gambling Commission chief executive Neil McArthur said: “Operators must use the data they hold to protect their customers and now, more than ever, it’s vital that online operators really know their customers by monitoring how long they are playing for and understanding how financial uncertainty is impacting them and what they can afford to gamble with.  To ensure operators do that, we are strengthening our guidance and expect operators to take account of that to prevent bonus offers or inducements being offered to customers who are showing any sign of harm‘’

Work was already underway to address many of these issues but this means we will now accelerate this work due to the unique situation that many consumers will find themselves in during lockdown.

‘’We will continue to monitor and publish the data that we are collecting and we will take further measures if required. We are monitoring online operators closely and if we see irresponsible behaviour we will step in immediately, suspending licences if we need to.”

Minister for Sports, Tourism and Heritage Nigel Huddleston said:”It is vital that people are protected from the threat of gambling related harm and I welcome these latest steps from the Gambling Commission.We will continue to monitor the situation closely and will not hesitate to take further action if required.”

The data also shows that in terms of time spent gambling, while overall session length has decreased, there has been an increase in the number of sessions that are played for over an hour.

The Commission has reviewed its current guidance in light of the risks that some players may be experiencing harm while in lockdown, and online operators must now take account of the Commission’s additional guidance, which makes clear they should:

  • Prevent reverse withdrawal options for customers until further notice
  • Cease to offer bonuses or promotions to all customers who are displaying indicators of harm
  • Interact with customers who have been playing for an hour in a single session of play
  • Review thresholds and triggers for new customers to reflect the operator’s lack of knowledge of that individual’s play and spend patterns
  • Conduct affordability assessments for individuals picked up by existing or new thresholds and triggers which indicate consumers experiencing harm – limiting or blocking further play until those checks have been concluded and supporting evidence obtained, and;
  • Implement processes that ensure the continual monitoring of their customer base – identifying patterns of play, spend or behaviours have changed in recent weeks.
  • Online operators will be expected to make changes to act on this guidance as soon as possible. The Commission will bring forward plans to consult on whether further targeted player protection measures are required on a permanent basis.

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IEC Secures Casino Licence in Manila

Niji Narayan

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IEC Secures Casino Licence in Manila
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Hong Kong-based International Entertainment Corporation (IEC) has obtained a provisional licence to operate a casino in Manila.

In June the firm, which operates New World Manila Bay Hotel and Casino through its subsidiary Marina Square Properties (MSPI), said it planned to redevelop an unnamed existing hotel to create a new integrated resort (IR) in the capital.

In a filing on Friday, it confirmed it has received a letter from the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp (PAGCOR) conditionally approving the issuance of a provisional licence.

The firm said: “MSPI and PAGCOR will further negotiate for the terms of the provisional licence agreement to be entered into between PAGCOR and MSPI in relation to the grant of the provisional licence.

“As and when there is further development in relation to the provisional licence agreement, the company will comply with all relevant requirements, and where necessary, make further announcements in accordance with the Listing Rules as and when appropriate.”

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Compliance Updates

Stoiximan and Betano Awarded eCOGRA Safe and Fair Seal

Niji Narayan

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Stoiximan and Betano Awarded eCOGRA Safe and Fair Seal
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Stoiximan and Betano, two well-established online casino and sportsbook brands operated by Kaizen Gaming, have been certified as “Safe and Fair” by the independent testing agency eCOGRA.

Shaun McCallaghan, chief executive of eCOGRA, said that the Greece-based Kaizen Gaming joins an outstanding group of online gambling operators that have demonstrated a practical commitment to higher standards of responsible conduct, fair gaming, integrity and player service through the awarding of eCOGRA’s Safe and Fair seal, which Stoiximan and Betano are now entitled to display on their websites.

“Our onsite review covering key elements of governance, information security, finance and gaming operations revealed an internal control environment that fully supports the underlying principles of eCOGRA’s Generally Accepted Practices (eGAP). We are particularly proud to have these deserving brands display the eCOGRA Safe and Fair seal,” McCallaghan said.

“The achievement of eCOGRA’s Safe and Fair seal is a recognition of our commitment to be a global leader when it comes to safe and responsible gambling. One of our most important priorities is to provide responsible products to our customers,” Panagiotis Skyrlas, Head of Information Security and Compliance for Kaizen Gaming, said.

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Compliance Updates

UK CMA Investigates Evolution’s NetEnt Acquisition

Niji Narayan

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UK CMA Investigates Evolution’s NetEnt Acquisition
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The UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has started an investigation on whether Evolution Gaming’s proposed acquisition of NetEnt would reduce competition in the igaming industry in the region.

CMA opened its inquiry on September 22 and has invited any interested parties to give comments on the proposed acquisition agreement until October 5. CMA will analyse this feedback and announce whether the investigation will proceed to a second phase on or before November 16.

Stockholm-listed Evolution’s offer for NetEnt amounts to SEK79.93 per share, which represented a premium of 43% over NetEnt’s closing price on Nasdaq Stockholm at the time.

At the time of the offer, Evolution said that shareholders owning around 20% of NetEnt shares indicated they would accept the offer, while the board of directors also unanimously recommended other shareholders back the bid.

In addition, board members who in total directly or indirectly control 8.48% of shares and 23.20% of votes in NetEnt expressed they intended to undertake to accept the offer.

NetEnt chairman Mathias Hedlund also welcomed the offering and said that the combination of his group’s reach in online slots and Evolution’s live casino product would give it greater leverage in expanding markets, such as North America.

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