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Political guests of honour open gamescom 2021

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Political guests of honour open gamescom 2021
Federal Minister Andreas Scheuer was shown a few of the latest games highlights at the start of gamescom. (C: Sebastian Reuter/Getty Images for game)
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Wednesday at 10:00 a.m. saw the official kick-off: gamescom 2021 was opened by the political guests of honour. The coronavirus pandemic means that this year’s gamescom is being held entirely online, as was last year’s. The official political opening ceremony was also live-streamed. The show lasted around half an hour and was presented from the studio by TV host Katrin Neumann. Ms Neumann spoke to Felix Falk, the Managing Director of game – the German Games Industry Association, which is a joint organiser of gamescom, in between the welcome addresses from the political guests of honour. These included Andreas Scheuer, Federal Minister of Transport and Digital Infrastructure; Dorothee Bär, Minister of State for Digitalisation; Armin Laschet, Minister-President of the federal state of North-Rhine Westphalia; as well as Henriette Reker, the Mayor of Cologne and Chairwoman of the Koelnmesse Supervisory Board, and COO of Koelnmesse Oliver Frese. In their welcome addresses, the political guests of honour embraced this year’s motto of ‘Games: The New Normal’ as they described the huge potential of games for Germany and explained the need to leverage this even further in future. Despite the extensive online programme of gamescom, the hope was expressed that next year could again be celebrated in Cologne with hundreds of thousands of visitors.

The video of the gamescom 2021 political opening ceremony can be watched on demand on the content hub ‘gamescom now’: now.gamescom.global

Andreas Scheuer, Federal Minister of Transport and Digital Infrastructure: ‘As the world’s biggest games event, gamescom is a valuable showcase. We want to build on that and make up lost ground in future as a development location on the international stage. Last year, at this very place, I gave the green light for the second phase of our games funding programme. Since then, the German government has provided millions of euros to support development studios in the games industry. That’s a real breakthrough. As things stand today, funding of 40 million euros has been approved – and we’re looking forward to receiving more applications. As well as the financial aspect, we have also overhauled our strategy and pooled the expertise to form a dedicated games unit within our Ministry. I am a firm believer that we can benefit from the innovative power of the games industry in many areas – be that the education sector, industry and science or simply in our leisure time.’

Dorothee Bär, Minister of State for Digitalisation within the federal government: ‘The motto of gamescom 2021 sums it up: games are the new normal. They have helped us stay in touch with friends and family during the coronavirus phase. Thank goodness we had games during this period! But games aren’t just the new normal as an entertainment medium, but also in the business, medical and education sectors. For example, increasing numbers of companies are “gamifying” their products– from fitness apps through cars up to videoconferencing tools. The deployment of games in education is particularly exciting: the motivation to play has a direct effect on learning success, not only for children, but also in further education and professional development. Games thus harbour immense innovative power that is demonstrated not least by the digital gamescom itself, and we need to exploit this potential even more rigorously. And that’s why we want to give the games sector in Germany even more support to become one of the best locations in the world. With the new games strategy, we have created an excellent basis for the coming years.’

Armin Laschet, Minister-President of North Rhine-Westphalia: ‘gamescom is a shining example of the strong social component of computer and video games, which has helped many people around the world through the coronavirus pandemic. This form of community is a fundamental building block of our society. The games industry also has enormous economic and social potential – both in the classical development of games and also beyond. The best example of this is in the field of digital education: using fun as a way of learning is part of human nature, which is why we need to be better at exploiting the available opportunities and not be afraid of blazing new trails. Here, too, the games industry will play an important role in future. Because of this huge potential, we need to keep working to improve the framework conditions for the games industry. For that reason, in North Rhine-Westphalia we have set ourselves the goal of wanting to become Germany’s top location for computer and video games some years ago. We also need this clear objective at national level in Germany so we can be the best among the international competition.’

Felix Falk, Managing Director of game – the German Games Industry Association, the joint organiser of gamescom, says: ‘gamescom is finally getting started with days full of announcements, news and shows that the fans are eagerly awaiting. Along with our partners, we are creating an event where millions of players around the world will again be able to celebrate the best games out there. However, at the same time, with the German parliamentary elections on the horizon, we don’t just want to talk about games at this gamescom, but also about what is the right games and digital policy for Germany. For that reason, I am especially pleased that we will be welcoming numerous top politicians not only during the political opening ceremony, but also at the Debatt(l)e Royale on Friday. Our intention with such formats is to give the younger generation above all an adequate opportunity to form an opinion, and to send out a clear message: go out and vote!’

Henriette Reker, mayor of the City of Cologne and chairwoman of the supervisory board of Koelnmesse: ‘I am really enthusiastic about what the entire Koelnmesse, the gamescom team, the association game and all partners created together for the second time in a row. This is exactly the innovative spirit and courage we need to move forward as a society in these challenging times. At the same time, I can hardly wait to see the numerous gamers back in town. First, because they always bring a very special flair with them and the whole city is infected by their enthusiasm. Second, because Cologne benefits from gamescom and its fans on many levels: Gastronomy, hotels and retail are just a few of the sectors that get an enormous boost during trade fair times.’

Oliver Frese, COO of Koelnmesse: ‘For the second year in a row, gamescom 2021 will take place purely digitally. But of course we have not been idle since last year and have made huge progress with gamescom 2021 and its digital offerings! Whether it’s our shows, our content hub gamescom now, or community activities like gamescom EPIX – everywhere we’ve taken advantage of the experiences of the last year and a half and further improved our program. Because our objective is clear: We want to be in pole position not only in the trade fair business in general, but also with regard to digital events in the future!’

 

Central Europe

Thuringia Proposes iGaming Monopoly in New Bill

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Thuringia, a small state located in central Germany, is putting forward legislation that would give it autonomous control over iGaming within its borders. If passed, Lotto Thüringen, the company which currently owns the state-run lottery, would become the sole operator of the iGaming tables vertical in the state.

The bill has been submitted to the European Commission for approval, amending its 2004 Casino Law. The proposed Thüringian Law on Casino and Online Casino would introduce a monopoly on online table games. This is permitted under Germany’s gambling legislation, which allows each state to run its own gaming laws.

The legislation calls to issue ten-year exclusive licenses for online table games, which are distinguished from online slots. The most likely operator would be Lotto Thüringen, which the bill notes would generate extra income for the state.

The country’s newly-regulated iGaming market launched earlier this year, with the country’s third Inter-state Treaty on Gambling coming into force on July 1. It permits the issuing of online casino licenses for slots and allows states to have control over online table games. This is expected to protect state lottery operators.

States with land-based casino licenses may issue the same number of online table games permits as those given to brick-and-mortar venues. However, as Thüringia has no land-based casinos, it counts with the option to give sole rights to the state lottery.

The bill submitted claims a monopoly approach is desirable because online table games have an “increased risk of manipulation” as the organiser is also the banker. This implies applicants would need to provide a high level of provisional detail to obtain rights. The proposed legislation is now in a standstill period until February 24.

State gaming monopolies have proved to be a controversial solution in the past. In 2010, the European Court of Justice ruled that German gambling laws enforced at that time, which helped protect state monopolies, were not “justifiable.”

In a statement, European judges said the public monopoly of the organisation of sporting bets and lotteries in Germany did not pursue the objective of combating the danger of gambling “in a consistent and systematic manner,” which was the argument given to protect them.

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Central Europe

The German Games Industry Association sees coalition agreement as sound basis for successful games policy

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The German Games Industry Association sees coalition agreement as sound basis for successful games policy
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  • Germany to be strengthened as games location
  • Ongoing games funding to be secured
  • Esports clubs to gain non-profit eligibility

In the view of game – the German Games Industry Association, the coalition agreement presented today by the German political parties SPD, Bündnis 90/Die Grünen and FDP provides a sound basis for a successful games policy over the coming years. game sees the pursuit of the overarching goal of strengthening Germany’s overall position as a games location as particularly important. A key factor here is to ensure ongoing games funding, which the SPD, Bündnis 90/Die Grünen and the FDP have enshrined in the new coalition agreement. In addition, game welcomes the general statements in the coalition agreement on reducing the level of bureaucracy and points to criticism raised by many games companies that are dissatisfied, for example, with the bureaucratic hurdles in the funding programme. game is also pleased that esports clubs can be recognised as non-profit organisations in future. Furthermore, key issues for the games industry are addressed in several passages in the coalition agreement, including reducing barriers to digitalisation, expanding broadband access (which is to be accelerated), promoting digital education and facilitating the immigration of qualified professionals to Germany. However, it remains to be seen how games and the games industry will be represented within the new federal government.

‘From the perspective of the games industry, the coalition agreement presented today is heading in the right direction: strengthening Germany as a games location, securing ongoing games funding, recognising the work of esports clubs as non-profit and an overall stronger focus on promoting digitalisation and reducing bureaucracy in Germany constitute an extremely sound basis for a successful and internationally competitive games policy during the new legislative period. Now it is essential that the new federal government establishes as quickly as possible who is responsible for games and that this is swiftly followed by concrete steps,’ says Felix Falk, Managing Director of game.

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Central Europe

Casinos Austria Appoints Erwin van Lambaart as General Director

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Holland Casino chief executive officer Erwin van Lambaart has been appointed as general director of Casinos Austria. He will take over from chief executive officer Bettina Glatz-Kremsner, who has left Casinos Austria after 30 years.

Out of a total of three applications “of excellent quality,” Van Lambaart was unanimously voted as the best candidate to succeed Glatz-Kremsner. He will join the board on March 14 and will take over the position of general director from April 1.

Van Lambaart said: “I will contribute all my experience in order to make a sustainable contribution to the well-being of the group of companies together with the employees in these challenging times. It will be a great pleasure for me to live and work in Austria.”

He added: “Casinos Austria enjoys an excellent reputation in the international gaming industry, which we will continue to expand together with the managers and employees in the years to come.”

Holland Casino thanked him for his service. Van Lambaart led the company through a restructuring and made an important contribution to positioning the company within the Dutch market. The company highlighted the addition of three new casinos and Van Lambaart’s handling of the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic. The board of Holland Casino has begun searching for a new CEO.

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