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New gambling laws introduced around the world

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Important news on gambling regulation in different countries for December 2020

Laws and control are getting stricter in Russia.

  • A Unified Gambling Regulator to be created

In December 2020, Russia’s State Duma approved second and third readings of new legislation that aims to create a new Unified Gambling Regulator and, what is the most important, dramatically hike Russian bookmakers’ financial contributions to local sports. Bookmakers will have to pay 1.5% of their betting turnover, and the regulator itself will distribute the money among corresponding sports bodies. Russia’s sports betting community says the new legislation will lead to monopoly on the market and put the private sector under more pressure.

  • Websites with 500,000+ users to become social networks

Russia’s State Duma will soon consider a new bill that will introduce restrictions on social networks. Every resource with more than 500,000 registered users will be considered a social network with all corresponding restrictions applied to them regarding sports betting advertising. Russia might also toughen penalties for prohibited content. In this case, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other online resources can be fined a fifth part of their annual revenue.

  • Data on e-wallets of Russians under control

Russia’s Federal Taxation Service will start tracking data on e-wallets of Russians on 6 January 2021. The Central Bank has already determined how data on opened and closed e-wallets will be transferred to the Federal Taxation Service. This decision will affect WebMoney, Qiwi, YooMoney and other payment services. Banks which carry out transactions for payment service providers—not payment service providers themselves—will be obliged to inform the Taxation Service about funds on e-wallets of Russian citizens.

Bookmakers in Kazakhstan might close

The launch of the Betting Accounting Center in Kazakhstan, scheduled for 4 January 2021, has been a widely-discussed topic in the county’s betting market this year. Bookmakers in Kazakhstan express concern that the project remains underdeveloped and provides for excessive rates for representatives of the betting market. Some experts say that it will be impossible to verify player identity under the new norms.

Amendments to Kazakhstan’s gambling legislation might force some bookmakers to close their businesses.

Market analysts have looked into the new requirements and concluded that local online bookmakers and payment systems will be losing about 50 billion tenge a year once amendments to Kazakhstan’s gambling legislation come into effect. This money will go to accounts of ‘grey’ foreign bookmakers.

Slovakia to ban land-based gambling

City councillors in Slovakia’s capital Bratislava voted to ban gambling following an anti-gambling petition. Slovakia will be, therefore, excluded from the list of countries where gambling establishments operate legally.

The law is set to come into effect on 1 January 2021. It does not, however, mean that casinos and gambling venues will close immediately. Instead, once businesses’ licenses expire, they will not be renewed. The current licenses are valid until 2023-2024.

The gambling industry generates significant revenue for the city. According to SBC News, at the end of 2019, there were 89 gambling venues, two bingo halls and six casinos in the city, earning €2.76 million altogether.

Latvia introduces new ban for gamblers

Latvia’s authorities continue regulating the gambling sector. The Parliamentary Human Rights and Public Affairs Committee supported amendments to the Maintenance Guarantee Fund Law that provide a ban for alimony debtors to engage in gambling and participate in interactive lotteries.

Gambling operators will be obliged to identify violators. The amendments might come into effect on 1 April 2021—but first, they have to be approved by the Parliament in three readings. 

Spain loses 50% of gambling revenue

Spain lost 50% of gambling revenue in the first ten months of 2020 compared to the same period last year. Despite the slowdown, Spain’s online gambling numbers continue growing.

A revised outlook of the gambling industry in the country compiled by the Spanish gambling industry association, Cejuego, and the University Carlos III of Madrid reports that the drop in gambling revenue was caused by a combination of stricter consumer protection measures, financial hardship and lack of opportunities to gamble as much as people used to.

Experts say that Spain does not have a gambling problem and that only 0.3% of all gamblers have or exhibit problem gambling behavior.

UK to review Gambling Act

The UK has announced the terms for its long-awaited review of the 2005 Gambling Act. Among the areas that the review will examine are sponsorship relations between betting operators and sports clubs, restrictions on advertising and bonuses and protections for the youth. In particular, the age limit for the National Lottery will be increased from 16 to 18. The review of the Gambling Act will last until 31 March 2021.

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