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Compliance Updates

Italian Operators Lose Appeal Against Covid-19 Restrictions

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Italian Operators Lose Appeal Against Covid-19 Restrictions
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As operators lost their appeal against restrictions introduced to fight the Covid-19 pandemic, all casinos, betting shops, gaming arcades and bingo halls in Italy must stay closed until March 5.

Even after appeals by gaming firms all over Italy against the steps introduced by the Council of Ministers and the Customs and Monopoly Agency, the administrative court in Lazio took the decision.

The new Covid-19 prevention decree in Italy is due to expire on March 5, but some gaming operators believe they may be forced to stay closed for much longer. Some complain that they are singling out the gaming industry.

Iari Fondi, owner of a gaming company in Altopascio, Lucca province, wrote to the Corriere Fiorentino newspaper: “Behind the prolonged closure of gaming companies there is a precise political will, hidden by the health emergency, that is using the devastating effects of Covid-19 to bring the legal and public gaming industry to its knees.”

He continued: “My venue is 300 square meters and complies with all the requirements, where is the risk of contagion compared to a supermarket? . . . We have equipped ourselves as requested: machines reduced for distancing, sanitation, plexiglass barriers and alternating staff.

“If on March 5 we don’t start again, I don’t know what will happen.”

The court will hear the operators’ appeal on February 10.

Compliance Updates

ANJ Warns Operators Over Refusing Bets

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French gambling regulator L’Autorité Nationale des Jeux (ANJ) has announced that it has received complaints from players over sports betting operators refusing to take the bets they wanted to place.

The regulator has now issued a document clarifying that operators cannot refuse bets unless they have a legitimate reason recognised under article L. 121-11 of the French Code of Consumption.

Legitimate reasons according to the law include a customer being underage, having self-excluded or playing excessively.

It noted that article L. 121-11 of the French Code of Consumption prohibits companies from refusing to provide a service to a consumer. The article does not specifically mention gambling and the ANJ recognised that context had to be taken into account.

However, it said that operators could be fined up to €1500 for refusing a service without legitimate reason, increasing to €3000 for repeat breaches.

It also said that the refusal of bets could be considered deceptive marketing tactics under Article L. 121-2 of the French Code of Consumption. Under that legislation, offenders could receive a fine of €300,000 and up to two years in prison.

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Compliance Updates

EGBA Welcomes Progress on Irish Gambling Regulations

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The European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) has welcomed the Irish government’s proposals to establish a regulatory authority and a national self-exclusion register for gambling.

On October 21, Ireland’s Minister of State for Law Reform, Youth Justice and Immigration, James Browne TD, published the General Scheme of the Gambling Regulation Bill which aims to modernise and reform the regulation of gambling, including online gambling in Ireland.

The proposals will now be submitted for drafting to the country’s Office of Parliamentary Counsel and will also be referred to the Oireachtas Justice Committee for pre-legislative scrutiny, with the accompanying legislative process expected to take at least 12 months to finalise.

EGBA welcomed the publication of the proposals and the progress made in establishing dedicated regulations for online gambling in the country, but expressed concerns about recent media reports that the Irish Government may introduce a blanket ban on free bets.

EGBA said that such a ban could nudge gamblers who regularly use free bets, or bonuses, to seek these with the many gambling websites, including those in the black market, which operate outside of the scope of Irish gambling regulation.

“We welcome the Irish government’s publication of the General Scheme of the Gambling Regulation Bill. This is an important milestone, and it provides companies, including our own members, with some certainty as to the direction of travel of the legislation. The EGBA looks forward to engaging with Minister Browne and his team to share our experiences from other European jurisdictions. With Ireland one of the two remaining countries in Europe which has no dedicated regulation of online gambling, this is an important opportunity to shape an Irish online gambling market which is well-regulated, meets the consumers’ needs and expectations, and sets a high level of consumer protection,” Maarten Haijer, Secretary-General of EGBA, said.

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Merkur Spielbanken Gets Responsible Gaming Recertification by G4

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MERKUR SPIELBANKEN Sachsen-Anhalt GmbH & Co. KG, a Gauselmann Group company in which the Swiss Stadtcasino Baden AG also has a stake, was the first casino company to undergo the comprehensive certification process of the internationally renowned Global Gambling Guidance Group (G4) as early as 2015 and thus brought a new quality aspect into play within the sector. A G4 award is valid for two years in each case. Another review will then be carried out to ensure that all of the professional and quality-related G4 standards continue to be fully upheld.

The MERKUR SPIELBANKEN casinos in Saxony-Anhalt have now again undergone an extensive check-up by G4 auditor Pieter Remmers and the three venues in Leuna, Magdeburg and Halle again successfully completed the comprehensive certification process without any objections.

Jan Kowala, Head of the Central Prevention department at the Gauselmann Group which supported the G4 Commission during the current review, said: “We consider the successful recertification to be confirmation by independent, external experts that our extensive prevention measures are mature in terms of quality and are being diligently applied in practice.”

In addition to checking compliance with all of the legal requirements, the review by the independent G4 Commission also uses strict standards to examine internal company guidelines and measures such as employee training and access control.

“Recertification by the G4 Commission has shown that our casino employees are extremely professional and competently implement all youth and player protection measures. The recertification is therefore also testament to the excellent training management in the entire corporate group,” Knuth Achilles, Director of MERKUR SPIELBANKEN Saxony-Anhalt, said.

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