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Compliance Updates

EGBA Urges Spanish Government to Reconsider Restrictions on Gambling Advertising

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Yohan Leon from Kensho Media explains how the English company expanded internationally
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The Ministry of Consumer Affairs of Spain is set to implement new restrictions on gambling advertising, leading to a near-complete ban on advertising.

Under the restrictions, gambling advertising would be allowed only at night between 1.00-5.00 am and there would be a total ban on gambling sponsorship of sports jerseys, kits and stadiums. But the biggest gambling companies and advertisers, the country’s state-run lottery companies, ONCE and SELAE, will be exempted from the measures.

EGBA considers the decision to grant the state-run lotteries an exemption from the restrictions to be discriminatory towards private companies and, by allowing the state-run lotteries advertising privileges, could potentially be in conflict with EU state aid rules.

Maarten Haijer, Secretary-General of EGBA said: “We urge the Spanish government to reconsider its advertising restrictions because there is a lack of data to support the measures and the granting of advertising privileges to state-run companies over private ones could potentially be in conflict with EU state aid rules. The restrictions clearly discriminate against private companies and favour the economic interests of the state-run lotteries, who are by far the country’s leading advertisers in the gambling sector. And while EGBA fully supports responsible advertising, the scope and type of restrictions proposed are not justified by the evidence available, including the country’s relatively low problem gambling rate and the significantly lower public awareness towards gambling advertising compared to other major advertising sectors.”

 

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Compliance Updates

Finland: Eurosport Fined €800,000 for Gambling Ads

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The National Police Board (NPB) has imposed a conditional fine of EUR 800,000 on an international broadcaster Eurosport 1 television channel recently for marketing of gambling services in Finland.

Earlier, on 16 September, the NPB prohibited Eurosport SAS (Eurosport) from marketing gambling services in Mainland Finland.

The prohibition remains valid for a period of three months and shall apply from 30 days after the date of service of the decision, unless otherwise directed by the appeal authority.

The NPB has detected that the marketing of gambling services has occurred regularly, extensively and for several years in the Eurosport 1. Gambling services have been marketed in advertisements during commercial breaks in television broadcasting.

“The supervision process in accordance with our legislation gives companies the opportunity to alter their operations and have their views heard,” said Anna-Emilia Sirén, Senior Adviser, Gambling Administration at the NPB.

Despite a number of exhortations, Eurosport has, however, continued the marketing that is considered unlawful by the authority.

Before imposing the marketing ban, the NPB has issued a statement to the company about the marketing of gambling and informed the company of the fact that only Veikkaus holds the exclusive right to market gambling services in Mainland Finland.

In its statement, the NPB, among other things, said that the marketing of gambling services on the channel violates Finland’s national legislation, regardless of the marketing being carried out from outside the Finnish borders.

Eurosport has not provided a response to the statement issued by the National Police Board in March 2021.

“The starting point for supervision is that the full range of methods, from the lenient to the strict, are used,” Sirén said, adding, “as an authority, we take the other party’s views into account, but if necessary, we prohibit the activity that we consider unlawful.”

With TV broadcasters in particular, there has been disagreement about the impact of EU law on the illegality of activities. The NPB has taken measures not only against Eurosport, but two other international TV broadcasters as well.

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Compliance Updates

UK’s Advertising Authority Upholds Complaint Against Napoleons Casinos

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The UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has upheld a complaint regarding a website and Facebook post for Napoleons Casinos.

The site, which is owned by The A&S Leisure Group Ltd, stated on its home page; “Enjoy unlimited gambling in all of our Napoleons Casinos …”, with an answer on its FAQ page regarding becoming a member stating: “If you produce appropriate ID you will have access to unrestricted gambling …”. There was also a post on its Facebook page stating: “Napoleons Casino & Restaurant…Unlimited Gaming Entry into Prize Draws Access to all our UK Branches”.

The complainant challenged whether such claims were socially responsible, with the ASA also challenging whether the claim “unrestricted gambling” was also irresponsible.

The complaint was upheld, with the ads found to be in breach of Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) Code rules 16.1, 16.3 and 16.3.1. The CAP Code stated that ads must not portray, condone or encourage socially irresponsible gambling behaviour, or gambling behaviour that could lead to financial, social or emotional harm.

“The ASA understood that under the applicable Money Laundering Regulations, limits were set as to the amounts that members and non-members of Napoleons Casinos were allowed to spend or cash out at the casino,” a statement from the ASA read.

“However, we considered that most consumers would be unaware that the claim ‘unlimited gambling’ referred specifically to those limits set by the regulations.

“We considered that the claim “unlimited gaming” was likely to have the same meaning as “unlimited gambling” since gaming in a casino inevitably required that consumers spent money.”

The ASA has since reiterated to The A&S Leisure Group Ltd to ensure that its future ads must not give the impression that customers can gamble without limits or restrictions.

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Compliance Updates

MGA launches Consultation on the Revised Audit Service Provider Guidelines

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MGA launches Consultation on the Revised Audit Service Provider Guidelines
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The Malta Gaming Authority invites the gaming industry, service providers as well as wider interest groups to express their views and provide their feedback in relation to the Revised Audit Service Provider Guidelines (‘Guidelines’).

In 2018, the Authority introduced a process whereby service providers interested in performing relevant auditing work (‘Service Providers’) are required to apply to the MGA for their suitability to be assessed and approved. The process proved to be effective, providing the MGA with the appropriate mechanism to approve independent and competent Service Providers as well as remove or suspend providers in case of unsatisfactory performance. The Authority has recently reviewed the requirements applicable to audit services to ensure that they remain up to date in view of the ongoing developments in the sector and in line with the MGA’s expectations.

In view of the Authority’s commitment to an open and transparent decision-making process, the MGA is issuing this consultation paper to communicate and refine its proposal in relation to revised Guidelines and promote a greater understanding of the proposal itself. The consultation, which will run until 11 November 2021, seeks feedback from the industry in relation to:

  • the amendments introduced in the Guidelines (as listed in Section 3 of the Consultation document); and
  • the extension of the applicability of the Guidelines to statutory audits carried out in accordance with international financial reporting standards as required by Article 41(2) of the Gaming Authorisations and Compliance Directive (Directive 3 of 2018).

Following the consultation process, the Authority intends to publish its decision, including the final version of the Guidelines and any other supporting documents, by the end of the year 2021.

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