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Compliance Updates

EGBA on Finland’s Missed Opportunity For Overdue Gambling Reform

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EGBA on Finland's Missed Opportunity For Overdue Gambling Reform
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The Finnish government’s proposal to introduce payment blockings for online gambling has been approved by the country’s parliament but, with its introduction, policymakers have missed an opportunity for meaningful and overdue gambling reform in the country.

On 14 December, Finland’s parliament approved an amended version of a government proposal to introduce blocking measures for payment service providers (PSP) with the aim of restricting Finns from accessing non-Finnish gambling websites. The government justifies the PSP blockings on consumer protection grounds, but critics argue it will restrict consumer freedoms and choice.

Today, Finland is the only EU member state which still has an exclusive online gambling monopoly model, but its monopoly has come under increasing public scrutiny in recent years and increasing pressure from the demand of the country’s gamblers for more online consumer choice. The government’s proposed PSP blockings, part of a group of amendments to the country’s Lottery Act, seeks to address this by blocking Finns’ payments to and from non-Finnish gambling websites.

This week, a majority in the country’s parliament agreed on an amendment to block only those payment transactions from Finnish gamblers to non-Finnish gambling websites and not vice versa. This was after parliamentarians had raised several concerns about the proposals,[1] including concern that blocking players winnings would be unconstitutional. Following the parliament’s approval, the amended Lottery Act will now come into force from 1January 2022 and the new payment blockings will be introduced at the start of 2023.

Experience from other countries shows that PSP and other blockings do not significantly affect consumer demand and, with its introduction, EGBA believes that policymakers have missed an opportunity for meaningful and overdue gambling reform in Finland. At the same time, EGBA welcomes the growing discussion both in the country’s parliament and in wider society about the future of Finland’s gambling policy. EGBA members are established, licensed, and regulated in most EU member states and would welcome the opportunity to apply for a license, be regulated, and pay taxes in Finland – but are still prevented from doing so by the country’s current gambling laws.

“The introduction of PSP blockings is an implicit admission that many of Finland’s gamblers prefer to bet on other websites rather than that of the state-run monopoly. There are many reasons why they do so: the availability of better betting odds, and better diversity and expertise in the products offered, are to name a few. In the online world, consumers vote with their feet and that is why we will continue to encourage the government to rethink, rather than reinforce, the country’s online gambling monopoly model and advocate for the benefits of establishing a well-regulated, multi-licensing model for online gambling in Finland.” – Maarten Haijer.

Compliance Updates

Smarkets Fined £630,000 for AML and Social Responsibility Failings

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The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has handed a £630,000 fine to betting exchange Smarkets after identifying a series of anti-money laundering and social responsibility failings, including letting a player deposit a six-figure sum without appropriate checks.

According to UKGC, Smarkets allowed customers to gamble without carrying out sufficient source-of-funds checks, while the operator was also found to have failed to identify and interact with customers at risk of experiencing harm.

Specific examples published by the Commission included one customer being allowed to deposit £395,000 during a four-month period, without appropriate source of funds checks being carried out by Smarkets.

The Commission also highlighted a case where an individual was able to transfer significant levels of funds between accounts without scrutiny or source-of-funds checks.

Sarah Gardner, Commission Deputy CEO, said: “This case was identified through compliance checks and once again highlights how we will take action against gambling operators who fail their customers.

“Our investigation into Smarkets unearthed a variety of failures where customers were put at risk of gambling harm.

“It was obvious that poor systems and processes were in place which contributed to these breaches, driven by the company’s failure to effectively implement its policies and controls.”

The operator has also received a formal warning and will undergo an audit to ensure it is effectively implementing its anti-money laundering and social responsibility policies, procedures and controls, in line with section 117(1)(b) of the Gambling Act 2005.

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Openbox Gaming offers gateway to Asia

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Openbox Gaming offers gateway to Asia
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New provider will deliver fresh content opportunitues to both operators and suppliers

Openbox Gaming, a fast-growing distributor of iGaming content across Asia and other markets, has been issued an IOM OGRA Software Supplier licence by the Isle of Man Gambling Supervision Commission (GSC).

Having secured the Software Supplier licence, one of the industry’s newest iGaming distributors with a unique USP will be in a position to supply a portfolio of online casino games from a variety of internal and external suppliers, to licensed B2B gaming partners and B2C operators.

Richard Hogg, CEO of Openbox Gaming, commented: “We are excited to be able to continue in our mission to deliver gaming content to regulated jurisdictions worldwide and see this as a major step in achieving those objectives. We selected the Isle of Man Gambling Supervision Commission due to its established and proven reputation and its robust licensing process, which provides the ideal platform for our expansion into regulated markets.”

Tony Ure, Head of eGaming, Digital Isle of Man added: “It is a pleasure to welcome Openbox Gaming to the Island. Ensuring that the Island has a supportive ecosystem for gaming companies to operate their business, whilst maintaining our reputation as a highly regulated jurisdiction that prides itself on player protection is key to continuing the growth of this sector on the Isle of Man. I wish Openbox Gaming every success with their future ventures.”

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Compliance Updates

PopOK Gaming Has Received a Certificate for Georgia

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PopOK Gaming Has Received a Certificate for Georgia
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The innovative iGaming developer and service provider PopOK Gaming is now certified to offer its games in Georgia.

PopOK Gaming now extends its iGaming activities to Georgia as well. This way, local players will have access to our engaging games already loved by many. 18 games, such as Yummy, Lost Treasure, Diamond Flash, 20 Hot Bar, Sultan’s Tale, Los Apaches and others, will bring a breath of fresh air to all players and make their leisure more colourful, tasty and enjoyable.

PopOK Gaming’s local partners will surely get a lot of benefits from this, being able to deliver certified games to their customers. The gain is totally worth it, with the clear potential to drive high traffic to operators’ websites and greatly contribute to their business growth.

Regarding this certificate acquisition PopOK Gaming CEO, Karen Gulkanyan said, “Since iGaming is regulated strictly in Georgia, it’s a huge step forward to deliver our games to the Georgian audience. The path is not easy, yet we are full of hope that our lucrative solutions will immediately appeal to the regional players and increase business revenue for partners, laying the foundation for long-term cooperation”.

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