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Compliance Updates

Parimatch became the first company in Ukraine to receive permission for a betting license

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Parimatch became the first company in Ukraine to receive permission for a betting license
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After signing a law on the legalization of gambling, Ukraine moved closer to regulation’s European gambling market standards. Parimatch received the first official Ukrainian permission for a license for betting activities in Ukraine.

On August 13, the law on the legalization of the gambling market came into force – one of President Volodymyr Zelensky’s promises to the people of Ukraine. After 11 years, the gambling business emerged from the shadows, and the state finally brought the country’s betting industry regulations in line with those of Europe.

Parimatch became the first licensed operator in Ukraine. The license allows the company to legally provide betting services, casinos, and poker, which will generate tax revenues to the state budget. The Ukrainian license became the 5th for the international holding Parimatch.

Restarting the gambling market according to European standards will catalyze the inflow of international investments into the country. Parliamentarians have already stated that in 2021 alone, the budget of Ukraine expects about 255 million euros in revenues from the gambling industry. The state will direct the money received from the sale of licenses to support socially significant areas such as medicine, culture, and sports. The influx of foreign investors also contributes to developing of technologies that will give Ukraine the impetus to compete in the international entertainment market.

“Work still remains to be done on reforming tax legislation before the Ukrainian market becomes attractive to foreign investors. Taxation should be transparent and logical so that it doesn’t create additional obstacles for foreign investors. At this stage, the cost of licenses for various types of gambling activities is so high that, together with taxation, it does not make investments in the nascent Ukrainian market attractive. So Ukraine could lose the competition in terms of investment to other countries. Under favorable legal conditions, specialist market capacity and qualifications will allow Ukraine to become a gaming hub for the Eastern Europe region. Like Malta and Manila, Ukraine now has the potential to become a center of expertise for gambling entertainment.” – Managing Partner of Parimatch Holding Maksym Liashko

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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