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Compliance Updates

Dutch Court Rules Loot Boxes are Not Gambling

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Dutch Court Rules Loot Boxes are Not Gambling
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A penalty issued by the Dutch gambling authority Kansspelautoriteit (KSA) to Electronic Arts (EA) has been revoked after a Dutch court ruled that loot boxes are not considered gambling products.

The judgement was handed down by the Administrative Jurisdiction Division of the Council of State, part of the District Court of the Hague.

The KSA first issued a penalty of €250,000 per week to EA on 15 October 2019, claiming that the publisher had violated article 1(a) of the Dutch Gaming Act by providing what it deemed to be gambling products in the video game FIFA.

According to the KSA, this applied to FIFA because the game contains loot boxes and “player packs”, the contents of which are not known until they are acquired. Player packs can also be traded and bartered for and have economic value in the game

EA launched appeals, which were subsequently dismissed the following year. However, EA appealed to the Administrative Jurisdiction Division on 29 November 2021, which led to the most recent court judgement.

During this appeal, EA argued that the loot boxes and player packs are not gambling products as stipulated in the Dutch Gaming Act, as they are part of a wider game and not available separately.

This was supported by the fact that the features can only be accessed through game play.

It added that the contents of the features cannot be used for economic value as they cannot be converted into cash, and argued that the KSA overstepped in issuing a penalty as there is no risk of gambling addiction.

The court sided with EA and revoked all previous decisions, concluding that loot boxes and player packs do not meet the requirements of gambling products in the Dutch Gaming Act. As a result, it also ruled that EA did not have to comply with the penalty.

Compliance Updates

IBAS Unveils New Plans to Become the First Gambling Ombudsman

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IBAS Unveils New Plans to Become the First Gambling Ombudsman
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The Independent Betting Adjudication Service (IBAS) has unveiled plans to become the new Gambling Ombudsman.

IBAS believes the long-awaited UK Government White Paper will call for the creation of a new Ombudsman, once released. IBAS claims it is the perfect candidate for the role, aiming to protect consumers from gambling harm while raising industry standards across the board.

The body already offers an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) service – as opposed to the Gambling Commission, which is the official route for resolving issues.

Per its bid to become the UK’s first Gambling Ombudsman, IBAS has outlined its aims and goals should it assume the position.

IBAS has called for its Ombudsman governance framework setting to be produced outside its remit; new and compulsory funding from the industry to ensure impartiality remains central to all gambling disputes; and a Fair Play Code – outlining the criteria for deciding complaints, including fairness terms & conditions for harmful gambling complaints.

“IBAS’s experience, expertise and commitment to independent decisions are unparalleled – having resolved over 85,000 gambling disputes. I welcome the creation of a new Ombudsman, but for this to work it needs to be run by an organisation that understands the sector and has a track record of helping and protecting consumers. An Ombudsman with additional resources, built on the foundations of IBAS is best placed to hit the ground running, protecting consumers, and raising industry standards through fair, consistent decision making and constructive dispute avoidance feedback,” Richard Hayler, Managing Director of IBAS, said.

“It’s an exciting time for the gambling industry. There is a real opportunity to enhance the service offered to gambling customers through a new Ombudsman. IBAS has been committed to providing an accessible, fair, and independent service to all gambling consumers. Our plan for a Gambling Ombudsman would make sure consumers are protected and avoid the backlog of complaints. On top of this, this plan provides a solution that works for Government, the Regulator, and the industry,” Andrew Fraser, Chairman of IBAS, said.

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Baltics

Lithuanian Regulator Issues Fines to Gaming Strategy Group and Tete-a-Tete Casino

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Lithuanian Regulator Issues Fines to Gaming Strategy Group and Tete-a-Tete Casino
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Lithuania’s Gambling Supervisory Authority has issued fines to Gaming Strategy Group, the operator of Betsson-owned Betsafe in the country, and Tete-a-Tete Casino.

Gaming Strategy Group was fined €25,000 for breaching rules regarding advertising after it distributed a newsletter to 10,430 customers about an online game.

Sent in February this year, the newsletter included information about the game and its features, as well as the option for players to click on links to log in to their account or to request a new password if they had forgotten their login details.

Last year, the Lithuanian government introduced a ban on range of gambling advertising, including promotional bonuses. The law on gambling prohibits the promotion of gambling through activities such as special events, test games, promotions, discounts, gifts and other incentives.

In its ruling, the Gambling Supervisory Authority said that as the newsletter’s intention was to draw attention to a gambling service and specific details about the game, including its win percentage and free spins features, this was in breach of Article 10 (19) of Lithuania’s gambling regulations (ALI).

In the case of Tete-a-Tete Casino, the Gambling Supervisory Authority issued the operator a fine of €15,000 for allowing players located outside Lithuania to gamble through its website remotely.

The regulator said this breached Article 205, Part 3, Article 201, Part 1 of the ALI as gambling with an operator licensed in Lithuania while not physically located in the country is illegal on the part of the gambling operator.

Tete-a-Tete Casino was also warned that its licence could be suspended if it does not put in place the relevant processes to halt such activity in the future. The operator has until 10 August to comply with the request.

The Gambling Supervisory Authority noted that neither decision was final, and both of the operators can appeal the rulings.

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Africa

BMM Testlabs South Africa Now Licensed to Provide Compliance Testing Services in Tanzania

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BMM Testlabs, the world’s original gaming test lab and product certification consultancy, is pleased to announce that the Gaming Board of Tanzania has authorized BMM to provide compliance testing services.
Zeena Rossouw, Vice President Operations & Sales, South Africa, commented, “BMM Testlabs is pleased to have been granted a license to provide compliance testing services for the Tanzanian gambling market. We are honored that the Gaming Board of Tanzania has recognized BMM, and we look forward to servicing the Gaming Board and our customers as we continue to provide compliance services across the African region.”
BMM’s Boipelo Lencwe, Technical Compliance Manager, accepted the license from James Mbalwe, Director General of the Gaming Board of Tanzania, and Catherine Lamwai, Licensing and Legal Services Manager of the Gaming Board of Tanzania.
BMM Testlabs is now accepting supplier submissions for compliance testing services in Tanzania.
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