EGBA Files Complaint with EC over Online Poker Tax in Germany
The European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA), the Brussels-based trade union of online gaming and betting operators in Europe, has filed a formal state aid complaint to the European Commission (EC) about the German government’s move to fix a 5.3% tax on online poker and slots stakes.
According to the EGBA, the proposed tax violates the EU state aid rules because it is discriminatory against online operators. When the rule comes into force, online betting and gambling providers in the country will end up paying four to five times higher tax than their land-based counterparts.
Maarten Haijer, Secretary General of EGBA, explained:
“We have previously made our concerns about the tax proposal known to the German authorities but to no avail and they will now need to justify the measure under EU law. We appreciate the efforts made in recent years towards introducing a new online gambling regulation in the country and recognise that an appropriate tax will need to be paid by online gambling operators. However, the rate of the proposed tax is punitively high and will distort market competition and directly benefit Germany’s land-based gambling establishments over their online counterparts. We call on German politicians to rethink the proposed tax rate and bring it closer in line with the tax rate applied to online casino products in other EU countries.”
CT Interactive Signs Deal with Leris
CT Interactive has signed a strategic deal with Leris. Through this partnership, CT Interactive will be able to broaden the reach of its products in Slovakia and Czech Republic while further diversifying the content of the slots available on Leris’s platform.
“Leris is an extremely popular platform that is used by dozens of operators. We are very excited and honoured to partner with it. This deal will strengthen our company’s presence on the European regulated market,” Ivan Zoumpalov, Business Development Manager at CT Interactive, said.
“CT Interactive is a global online provider with an excellent reputation. Its products are offered on more than 1,500 platforms and we are proud to be part of this number,” commented a representative of Leris.
New Metaverse Game Star Life by iCandy’s Flying Sheep Receives German Government Funding
Flying Sheep Studios, a subsidiary of iCandy Interactive, an Australian-listed international games studio, is proud to announce it is developing Star Life, a social massively multiplayer online (MMO) game focused on cooperation, and community-driven experiences that will prioritise socialising and being the party and event part of the metaverse, eventually hosting events and concerts.
iCandy Interactive has an international footprint of having other video games studios across Asia (Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia) and Flying Sheep Studios is its first major investment made in Europe.
The German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action has agreed to support the development of Star Life with a generous funding of approximately EUR 1.1 million (approximately USD 1.2 million). Flying Sheep Studios, known for its expertise in HTML5 web-based game development, is utilizing its skills to create a sophisticated web-based metaverse game.
One of the key features of Star Life is its high accessibility, making it conveniently playable from any browser on any device without needing downloads, installations, or high-end technology.
Players can start entering the Star Life metaverse with just one click via a web browser on both desktop and mobile devices. The game also prioritizes diversity, offering players various options for character creation, shopping, and community-driven events, such as concerts and exhibitions.
In addition, Star Life will incorporate optional blockchain-enabled items, or NFTs, giving players more ownership and agency over their virtual belongings. These belongings can be transferred and used on different platforms, making the process streamlined and convenient. Star Life will be a free-to-play game available to everyone.
“We are grateful to the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action for their support and trust in our project. This funding demonstrates the federal budget for video games working as intended, fostering the development of cutting-edge technical know-how ‘made in Germany’ and creating and securing jobs,” says Thomas Rössig, Founder and Managing Director of Flying Sheep Studios.
Addition of Senior European Industry Talent
For the development of this groundbreaking project, Flying Sheep has also hired additional talent, including four industry veterans:
Renke Bahlmann – Lead Game Designer
With 12 years of experience working on browser games for industry leaders such as Bigpoint, game development allrounder and media technology expert Renke Bahlmann is the perfect fit for the position of Lead Game Designer. He will guide the team in creating a highly engaging game experience.
Frank Reitberger – Lead 3D Developer
Flying Sheep’s new Lead 3D Developer Frank Reitberger is renowned for his work as a Designer and Programmer. In the past two decades, he has worked for well-known brands and customers such as Porsche, IBM, and Activision Blizzard.
Daniel Schemann – Head of Back-End Development
Cultivating his passion for multiplayer experiences in the early days of MUDs, Daniel Schemann founded his studio Silent Future in the early 2000s and would later work on free-to-play MMO Earthrise. In his new position as Head of Back-End Development at Flying Sheep, he will create the foundation for the multiplayer experience of Star Life.
Nina Kiel – Head of Diversity & Inclusion
As one of Germany’s foremost game diversity experts, Nina Kiel has worked in various industry-related fields such as games journalism, game development, game event management, game studies and media education for over a decade, and published several books. Now they’ve joined Flying Sheep as Head of Diversity & Inclusion to support the studio in making diversity and
inclusion a key part of their endeavors.
IRINA RUF IS NEW MANAGING DIRECTOR AT MERKUR CASINO
Gauselmann subsidiary with new management line-up
With immediate effect, Irina Ruf has assumed the role of Managing Director International at Merkur Casino GmbH. The subsidiary of the Eastern Westphalian Gauselmann Group operates around 800 arcades in Germany and across Europe. As new managing director, Irina Ruf is responsible for securing and growing the existing markets as well as for driving forward new acquisitions in the international arena. Ruf is thus stepping into the shoes of Stefan Bruns, who will in future represent the Sports Betting and Online Gaming business segment on the Management Board of the Gauselmann Group.
“We are delighted that in Irina Ruf we have been able to win a new managing director with extensive expertise and experience in particular in international operations,” explains Dieter Kuhlmann, Gauselmann Group Management Board member with responsibility for Gaming Operations. Hailing from Bremen, Irina Ruf looks back on an almost 15-year career within the Group, most recently as Executive Operations Director International at Merkur Casino GmbH. “Based on her wide-ranging career path to date, Ms Ruf brings to the job all the prerequisites to successfully continue and expand Merkur Casino’s international business activities,” Kuhlmann adds.
For her part, Irina Ruf is also ready to embrace the challenges that the position of managing director brings with it: “I am looking forward to developing new geographical markets and implementing exciting projects together with my team. One particular focus will be on developing the online markets.” The new head of Merkur Casino has ambitious plans: “Our goal is to maintain Merkur Casino International’s strong position and to confidently rise to the ever-growing demands,” Ruf concludes.
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