iGB Affiliate 55 Feb/Mar - Page 93

WEBMASTER WORLD 2012 only permits betting and only four licences were granted to local companies (Fortuna, Milenium, STS and Totolotek). The recent amendment to Poland’s Gambling Act removes the requirement to incorporate a separate Polish limited liability or joint stock company. In November 2014, in an increased effort to narrow the grey market, the Polish government initiated more than 1,100 criminal investigations against players using unlicensed sites, who each face up to three years’ imprisonment. PORTUGAL Regulated Gambling Products: Sports betting, horse race betting, poker, casino, bingo, lottery. Operator Type: Monopoly for all products, but changes imminent. Status: Portugal’s online gambling legislation was passed by Parliament in late February and came into force on 29 June 2015. While operators can now apply for licences, their Portuguese revenue streams will be subject to comparatively high tax rates, particularly sports betting, the subject of a 8-16% tax on turnover. The RGA recently filed a state aid case with the EC challenging the Portuguese betting tax as breaking EU trade rules. There is no deadline for the licensing window or limit on the number of licences that may be issued. Delayed technical standards were introduced on 23 December, paving the way for operators to certify their online systems to obtain a licence. ROMANIA Regulated Gambling Products: Mutual horse racing, parimutuel sports betting and lottery. Operator Type: Regulation pending Status: The Romanian government passed legislation at the very end of 2014 that allows entities within the EU to apply for a licence, imposes a reform on licence fees and eliminates many (but not all) of the tax burdens placed on player revenues. Secondary legislation, setting out the details and requirements for licensing, was notified to the EC in April and implemented on 12 June 2015, initiating a 90-day period in which operators may apply for an interim licence which would be valid until 31 December 2015. The law includes a provision requiring prospective licensees to pay back-taxes (20% of GGR) if they have taken Romanian customers dating back to December 2010 or risk criminal charges. The regulator has stepped up enforcement attempts by publishing a blacklist of unlicensed gambling products, whilst a number of large European operators have challenged the regulator’s decision on the award of licences. The resignation of Romania’s prime minister in November has cast uncertainty as to whether the implementation of the regulations will be delayed. SLOVAKIA Regulated Gambling Products: Sports betting, horse race betting, poker, casino, bingo, lottery. Operator Type: All products are operated by the monopoly save that landbased sports betting operators can offer services online due to a legal loophole. Status: No developments anticipated. SLOVENIA Regulated Gambling Products: Sports betting, horse race betting, poker, casino, bingo, lottery. Operator Type: Online gambling must be operated by land-based casinos or lotteries and, as a result, only the monopoly holds online licences in Slovenia. Status: Slovenia has published a new draft gambling law but it seeks to reserve its restrictive position on gambling. The law has not yet been voted on in parliament and a timeline for implementation is unclear. SPAIN Regulated Gambling Products: Sports betting, horse race betting, casino, poker, bingo and lottery. Operator Type: Private operators can apply for licences for all gambling products save for lottery. Status: The first online licences were issued on 1 June 2012. Under the law, online operators must hold a general licence and a specific licence for each activity from the National Gambling Commission. In June 2015, 10 new licences were awarded to new operators, the first new licensees since the market opened in 2012. 25 online slot permits were also issued to new and existing licensees, following the approval of the regulation of slots and betting exchanges. SWEDEN Regulated Gambling Products: Sports betting, horse race betting, poker, bingo and lottery. Operator Type: Only public benefit organisations, the horseracing industry and the state lottery may obtain a licence. No local licences for private operators. Status: The Swedish government is under pressure to update its regulations. The commencement of infringement proceedings by the EC appeared to mobilise the Government but recent statements have suggested that updated regulation to permit private operators to obtain a licence may not emerge in the short-term. A government-commissioned inquiry recently proposed amendments to the Lotteries Act which would remove the differences between the sanctions imposed on advertising by unlicensed foreign and unlicensed domestic operators. The Government has confirmed it is proceeding with an investigation into reforming the law with a view to potentially opening the market to private operators in due course. The review will conclude at the end of March 2017. Wiggin is a law firm dedicated to supporting the media, entertainment and gaming sectors. Its market-leading Betting and Gaming group provides specialist legal services to an array of gambling industry stakeholders. We advise many of the world’s leading gambling operators and suppliers and also enjoy helping entrepreneurial, interactive start-up businesses. If you’d like to hear more, contact us at gambling@wiggin.co.uk. iGB Affiliate Issue 55 FEB/MAR 2016 87