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Conferences in Europe

Current state of the online gambling market in Slovakia with Dr. Robert Skalina at CEEGC 2017

George Miller

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Robert Skalina at CEEGC 2017
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The organizers of the event are honored to announce that Dr. Robert Skalina (Partner at WH Partners), who will be a key speaker about the Czech regulation, will also give a briefing about the situation of the online gambling industry in Slovakia.

The recent regulation of the markets in Eastern Europe show a clear sign that unlicensed online gambling will soon be eradicated from Europe.

Illegal gaming operations have been blocked recently in Poland, Slovakia and Czech Republic and the European authorities have announced major crackdown on illegal gaming operations as unlicensed platforms. Under recently approved regulations, three administrations decided to introduce ISP blocking to end unauthorised gaming operations just this year.

Although ISP blocking has been criticized by all involved companies, the European governments are reinforcing the legal battle against international gaming operators without license by banning the platforms in their jurisdictions. According to experts, the ban, however, is easy to break as ISP blocking is not very effective. Authorities from Poland, Slovakia and Czech Republic also stated that illegal operators could be charged with over US$587k fines.

Czech legislators have been holding a long discussion on gaming laws, as the government seeks stricter control on the industry. Furthermore, the new proposal would establish time limits for players’ participation in gaming services. Operators would have to comply with new amendment, which would set a maximum limit on hour basis.

Poland has already blocked over 1k domains and is holding the stricter crackdown on online gaming platforms. Meanwhile, the Gambling Insider revealed that the Ministry of Finance of Slovakia announced last month a list of 16 operators which would be blocked, including William Hill, 888 and GVC.

In mid-July, the Slovak Financial Administration came out with a list of 10 naughty online gambling operators, including familiar faces like 888 Holdings, Bet365, Bet-at-Home, Bwin, William Hill and 1xbet, along with Curacao-licensed Eatsleepbet.com as well as Malta-licensed LVbet.com and Kajot-casino.com.

The list, however, has grown to 16 at the end of July, according to Slovak news outlet Zive.sk.

Slovakian authorities want the operators to take down the websites within 10 days, before they were issued a judicial order that will oblige the ISPs to block the sites based on DNS. Those who will not follow will have to pay a penalty of up to €500,000 ($587,107).

Most internet service providers said they are ready to block the websites, but they’re still waiting for a judicial order before proceeding. Tereza Molnar, spokeswoman for O2, told the news outlet that they have yet to receive “any regulation from the authorities on illegal gambling blocking.”

The providers have also expressed frustration at the government for imposing fresh responsibilities on them without allocating any funding to account for the extra work. Network operators O2 and Telekom previously said they will bear the costs in full “as our contribution to the fight against illegal gambling.”

Some operators had already exited the Slovakian market in recent months after the government announced it would begin enforcing its new gambling regulations, under which online sports betting licensees must pay 27% tax on their gross gaming revenue from local punters. Online casino and poker activity remains the sole responsibility of the state-owned TIPOS national lottery.

Slovakia’s harshening attitude towards gambling isn’t limited to the digital realm. In April, officials in the nation’s capital Bratislava banned gambling—but not sports betting shops or lottery retailers—within city limits, although current casino and slots hall operators will be allowed to continue operating until their existing licenses expire.

“The growth of regulated markets in the Eastern European region” panel is scheduled to be held between 11:00 – 12:00 (Budapest Local Time) on the 19th of September (Day 1) during the second edition of the Central and Eastern European Gaming Conference Budapest. (you can view the full agenda here).

More about the speaker:
Dr. Robert SkalinaDr. Robert Skalina (Senior Advisor to WH Partners)
Dr. Robert Skalina is Czech Advocate as well as a Registered European Lawyer in Malta. He is currently a Senior Advisor to WH Partners, a Malta-based leading law firm with a business focus and expertise in gaming & gambling, technology, financial services, tax, M&A and corporate finance.

Robert has vast experience advising clients in the gaming/gambling industries on all aspects of their operations. He also provides advice to wide range of investment managers and funds, and regularly advises clients on complex cross border transactions and mergers and acquisitions.

 

He has previously held the position of head of legal of a London based investment advisor active throughout EMEA region. Robert holds LLM from the London School of Economics and a Master of Laws degree from the Charles University in Prague.

 

How to secure your seat?

Early Bird Rate is set for 299 EUR and can be booked with the 50% discount until September the 3rd, 2017. Limited seating! (Online payment, Bitcoin or Bank Wire Available)
Register here: https://ceegc.eu/registration/

For more details visit the official website, www.ceegc.eu or contact the organizers directly by email (organizers@ceegc.eu) or by phone (0040 735 559 234).

Watch this space for more interesting updates about #CEEGC2017Budapest

 

George Miller (Gyorgy Molnar) started his career in content marketing and has started working as an Editor/Content Manager for our company in 2016. George has acquired many experiences when it comes to interviews and newsworthy content becoming Head of Content in 2017. He is responsible for the news being shared on multiple websites that are part of the European Gaming Media Network.

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Conferences in Europe

Gambling in Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia and Austria, moderated by Dr. Joerg Hofmann at Prague Gaming Summit 2018

Zoltan Tundik

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Prague – 21 February 2018 – The most important boutique style gaming conference in Prague is going to welcome leading experts of the online gambling industry on the 29th of March at Andel’s by Vienna House Prague. The second edition of Prague Gaming Summit is gathering new and old faces of the industry in order to highlight the trending topics for the attending delegates.

The key to a successful panel is in the careful selection of the panel moderator. The panel moderator brings the session to life: often selecting and prepping the panelists, determining the format to ensure a lively and informative conversation and having excellent facilitator skills to keep the conversation focused and moving along.

We have always searched to find the best possible mediators for the panel discussions and Prague Gaming Summit will continue to bring these quality dialogues.

The latest announced moderator is a familiar face at gaming events and is known for his experience in the industry. Dr. Joerg Hofmann (Melchers Law Germany) is the Immediate Past President of the International Masters of Gaming Law (IMGL), the pre-eminent global gambling law networking and educational organisation. He has been consistently ranked as a “Leading Individual” in Gaming & Gambling by Chambers Global since 2011 and is the only German Lawyer listed among “Germany’s Best Lawyers” in the category “Gaming Law” by Handelsblatt and BestLawyers since 2014. Joerg is based in Heidelberg/Germany. He frequently publishes articles in international expert’s magazines and periodicals and speaks regularly on international gaming law conferences around the world.

Dr. Joerg Hofmann will moderate the “Focus on Czech Republic” and the “Focus on Slovakia, Slovenia, Switzerland and Austria” panel discussions, which promise to offer some inside information around the markets.

More speaker profiles will be releases soon, but you may want to check the already confirmed line-up of speakers and register in time. The event is limited to 125 seats.

Visit the official website of the event for more details: https://praguegamingsummit.com/

To hear more about the subjects and meet Joerg  in person, make sure you register and attend Prague Gaming Summit 2018, held on the 29th of March at Andel’s by Vienna House Prague.

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Conferences in Europe

Exclusive Interview with Piotr Dynowski (Partner and Head of IP, Media, Tech & Comms practice at Bird & Bird’s Warsaw Office)

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The Polish gambling industry has been the subject of many major changes, however not all of them are clear for the operators and shareholders.

So, I took advantage of the opportunity to catch up with Piotr Dynowski (Partner and Head of IP, Media, Tech & Comms practice at Bird & Bird’s Warsaw Office), who is going to be among the speakers at Prague Gaming Summit 2018 (more details here...), to gain an inside perspective on the Polish gambling market.

I would also like to thank you for following my interview series and for sharing these information with your colleagues and partners. If you would like to be featured in an upcoming interview, please send me an e-mail to reka.szalo@europeangaming.eu and I will happily get back to you!

I would like to thank you for spending time to answer our questions. First I would kindly ask you to shortly introduce yourself.

Piotr: My name is Piotr Dynowski and I’m a partner and head of IP, Media, Tech & Comms practice at Bird & Bird’s Warsaw office. For over 10 years now, as part of my practice, I have advised clients on all aspects of gaming law, in particular online gambling and betting, social gaming and e-sports. I advise on licensing regimes, regulatory issues, as well as advertising and provision of B2B services to gambling operators.

What is your personal opinion about the European gambling industry and could you make a comparison with the market that you know better and the European situation in terms of gaming and gambling?

Piotr: Unfortunately, Poland is still one of the most restrictive markets in Europe with respect to gambling and doing business by gambling operators in Poland is still pretty difficult, but apparently the changes to the Polish gambling regulations introduced last year were quite beneficial to the licensed betting operators and helped them almost double their turnover in comparison to the previous years. In general running gambling business, even in the EU, is very difficult as legal regulations differ significantly from country to country, some are very restrictive, others pretty liberal, and it is one of probably very few industry sectors left in the EU that are still completely unharmonised and where it seems the fundamental freedoms on which the EU is based do not really apply. Gambling industry has also to struggle all the time with negative perception by many governments and sometimes also negative image in the society. Generally gambling is still often perceived as something a little doggy and causing a lot of harm to the society despite all the efforts of the industry towards fraud protection, fighting gambling addiction and other important initiatives to prove that it is not a different industry than  any other entertainment industries.

In several Eastern European countries there are significant regulatory changes concerning online gambling. What advise would you give for the operators; which are the most attractive markets?

Piotr: Yes, we have seen recently some major changes to the gambling regulations in several Eastern European countries, but unfortunately most of them did not have too much impact on the situation of the private operators. Either they aimed at expanding and strengthening of the state monopoly like in Poland or Hungary or in theory created new opportunities for private operators to apply for new licences, but in practice turned out to be impossible to complete as in the Czech Republic. It seems that only Romania with its relatively liberal regulation in the region sees a major growth of its gambling market. The next big thing in Europe will most probably be Sweden which after years of strict monopoly will open soon to private operators. Taking into account that already a big number of companies in gambling industry are in fact of Nordic origin, the opening of the Swedish market will create enormous opportunities.

I would like to ask you to speak about the recent updates of the Polish gambling market. What can be expected in 2018 in terms of regulations, changes in this particular industry in Poland?

Piotr: Unfortunately, I’m afraid, there no major changes with respect to gambling regulations in Poland that we can expect in 2018. In my view any major future changes will depend on how successful the new online casino operations of the state monopoly will be, but there are delays with the launch of it, so it will take still some time to see how they are doing. If it is successful, the Polish government will have no incentive to liberalise the regulations and to let the private operators compete with the monopoly. But if it is a failure, they may reconsider whether it is not better to allow private operators to operate more freely and generate revenue for the state from the taxes. The only area where there may potentially be some changes in the foreseeable future is lowering slightly the taxes on gambling in Poland as they are currently very steep and one of the reasons many operators do not even try to apply for a licence here. Such change would certainly be welcome by the industry and could generate some more action on the market.

To hear more about the subject and meet Piotr in person, make sure you register and attend Prague Gaming Summit 2018, held on the 29th of March at Andel’s by Vienna House Prague.

Interviewee profile:

Piotr is one of the leading Intellectual Property, patent and IP litigation lawyers in Poland.

Piotr advises on all aspects of gaming law, in particular online gambling and social gaming. His expertise covers licensing regimes, regulatory issues as well as advertising and provision of services such as electronic payments in relation to gambling products.

In 2011, as the Polish expert he participated in the research conducted by Cambridge Health Alliance together with Harvard Medical School and Harvard Law School, investigating associations between European gambling regulations and the actual gambling behavior of players.

In 2011, he represented the two largest European online gambling industry organisations in complaint proceedings against Poland to the European Commission for violation of the EU law by Polish gambling regulations, which resulted in the European Commission launching proceedings concerning violation of the EU law by Poland at the end of 2013 which terminated only in January 2016 after a number changes to the Polish gambling regulations were introduced.

He is a legal expert of the Polish Chamber of Commerce

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Conferences in Europe

Exclusive interview with Tom Edmonds (Harris Hagan), speaker at Prague Gaming Summit 2018

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It was my pleasure and honor to conduct the below interview with such a experience professional of the gambling industry.

I would also like to thank you for following my interview series and for sharing these information with your colleagues and partners. If you would like to be featured in an upcoming interview, please send me an e-mail to reka.szalo@europeangaming.eu and I will happily get back to you!

My current interviewee is Tom Edmonds (Harris Hagan), who is going to be among the speakers at Prague Gaming Summit 2018 (more details here...)

We are very grateful for your generosity to answer our questions. First I would like to ask you to shortly introduce yourself and tell us when and why you started working in this industry.

Tom: My first taste of working in the gambling industry was advising on the sale of a major gambling company, when I worked at Travers Smith (a UK firm specialising in corporate transactions).  This gave me an appetite to work in the industry and I moved in-house to Betgenius, a B2B sports betting provider.  I then continued my journey into the world of gambling when I joined the specialist gambling law firm Harris Hagan in 2014.

Before joining Harris Hagan in March 2014, you worked at Betgenius as an in-house solicitor. Which are those professional experiences or which is the knowledge you accumulated there and proved to be useful in your present job?

Tom: It was valuable to develop a detailed understanding of the sports betting sector, as well as a general overview of the rest of the industry.  This has enabled me to better assist clients by anticipating issues which a client has not necessarily considered but which I’m aware will come into play.

You advise clients on regulatory requirements from a gambling law perspective, product classification and on making operating license applications in the UK. Which are the most common problems your clients ask your help in and what are your most important suggestions?

Tom: We regularly assist clients with applications for a Gambling Commission licence.  At the outset this involves dealing with the fundamental question of which company/ companies need to be licensed and which licences they need to hold – a question which you might imagine to be simple, but which can be complicated and which is vital to get right.

We then work with clients to ensure they remain compliant with the requirements of holding a Gambling Commission licence and, if they should breach such requirements, assisting them in finding the best resolution.

In several Eastern European countries there are significant regulatory changes concerning online gambling. What is your opinion about the European market in general? What advise would you give for the operators; which are the most attractive markets?

Tom: In general, Europe is moving towards ‘point of consumption’ licensing regimes, as in Great Britain, where operators need a licence in each country from which they take play.  As a result, operators must be prepared to spend increasing amounts of time and money on compliance as they have to deal with the requirements of more licensing regimes.  Conversely, and with regards to the most attractive markets, there are still unregulated markets which may prove more profitable but which also carry a higher risk profile.

You are particularly interested in areas of this industry where sports and gambling meet. How would you characterize this area of the gambling industry and which are the new trends, important changes that you would like to speak about?

Tom: There has been a significant tightening of the rules regarding advertising of gambling, including those adverts shown around televised sporting events.  At the time of writing (mid-February 2018), the advertising regulator in Great Britain has just issued wide ranging new guidance that is intended to have a substantial impact on the content (and tone) of such adverts.  Adverts will have to change but we wait to see how significantly operators will change their adverts and what action is taken against non-compliant operators.

To hear more about the subject and meet Tom in person, make sure you register and attend Prague Gaming Summit 2018, held on the 29th of March at Andel’s by Vienna House Prague.

Interviewee profile:

Tom works in the Gambling Group and specialises in regulatory, commercial and corporate matters.

Before joining Harris Hagan, Tom worked as an in-house solicitor at Betgenius, a technology company which provides sportsbook solutions to bookmakers. At Betgenius, Tom gained first-hand experience of the online industry and advised on a broad range of commercial contracts and regulatory matters. Prior to working at Betgenius, Tom trained and worked for four years at Travers Smith where he specialised in M&A, including advising on the sale of a large gaming company.

Tom joined Harris Hagan in March 2014 and deals with all aspects of gambling law including advising major land based casino operators, online B2B and B2C operators and start up companies. Tom regularly advises clients on regulatory requirements from a gambling law perspective, product classification and on making operating licence applications in the UK. Tom has a particular interest in areas where there is a cross-over between sport and gambling including sports betting, advertising gambling at sports events and spot-the ball competitions

In his spare time, Tom enjoys playing or watching sport, planning adventures overseas and having the occasional flutter.

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