Catch up on six of the stories our gambling compliance analysts have covered lately, and stay up-to-date on the latest news.
Chile's Online Gaming Bill Goes Before Plenary At Last
Chile’s finance commission has unanimously passed the country's online gambling bill, which now will go before the lower house and then on to the Senate.
The bill has finally completed its journey through various commissions in the Chamber of Deputies since it was first penned over 18 months ago in March 2022.
In the time since, the tax burden was revealed to be a 20 percent overhead rate, in addition to value added tax, which puts the overall tax rate at around 38 percent, a number that panicked operators.
Grey market operators are also extremely unhappy with the 12 month cooling-off period that is in the current version of the bill, which they have vowed to fight in the Senate.
The finance commission’s evaluation took one session, as its approval is a matter of accounting rather than a policy debate.
Whether the bill passes into law is another matter, with insiders saying that, at this point, the beleaguered measure has about a 50 percent chance due to unending lawsuits and controversy.
POGO-linked Chinese National Jailed For 20 Years
A Philippine court has sentenced a Chinese national who operated a foreign-facing online gambling venture to 20 years in jail for human trafficking.
The Las Piñas Regional Trial Court in southern Metro Manila sentenced Andy Chen on October 27 to 20 years in jail and fined him 1.4m pesos ($25,300) for human trafficking offences, the Philippine Star reported on Thursday (November 23).
The Xincheng Network Technology boss was prosecuted for trafficking a Chinese woman who was rescued in a raid in December 2021.
The same company, referred to as “XinChuang Network Technology” in some media reports, was raided again in June this year, resulting in the rescue of more than 2,700 enslaved workers, including some 1,200 foreign nationals.
Online gaming regulator PAGCOR had listed Xincheng Network Technology as a registered service provider to foreign-facing online gambling licensees (POGO), but its data has been removed from PAGCOR’s online lists of current and cancelled operators.
Further details of the court decision, which comes as congressional and executive pressure builds on PAGCOR to eliminate POGOs altogether, were not immediately available.
Dual Role Of Star Entertainment's Overseer Extended
The Queensland and New South Wales (NSW) state governments have extended their appointments of The Star Entertainment Group’s external special manager as remediation processes for the troubled casino operator advance.
Star Entertainment said in a statement on Friday (November 24) that Queensland Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath approved its remediation plan for casino operations filed in response to damaging state government probes and heavy fines.
Special manager Nicholas Weeks will now oversee operations for an additional year until December 8, 2024, and supervise the remediation plan’s 100-plus reforms.
D’Ath accordingly further deferred licence suspensions for Star’s two Queensland casinos until May 31, 2024.
In a separate statement on Friday, Star Entertainment said the NSW Independent Casino Commission (NICC) advised that Weeks’ tandem role as special manager of The Star casino in Sydney will be extended to no later than June 30, 2024 and not renewed.
The NSW extension gives Star Entertainment more time to “satisfy the NICC that it is capable of undertaking the remedial action” to regain licence suitability, it said.
On Tuesday, Star Entertainment said it had signed a binding agreement with the NSW government on tax obligations, fleshing out an earlier, less detailed agreement.
UK Gambling Commission Set To Consult On Free Bets, Bonuses
The UK Gambling Commission will shortly be publishing another round of consultations on topics including ensuring that free bets and bonuses do not encourage harmful or excessive gambling, the regulator’s chief executive has said.
Other items going out to consultation include player tools such as deposit and time limits and transparency of measures to protect consumer funds, said CEO Andrew Rhodes.
Rhodes was speaking on Wednesday (November 22) at the annual meeting of bacta, the UK’s amusement industry trade group. The consultations are part of the British government’s plan to update the 2005 Gambling Act, along the lines of plans announced in a white paper that was released in April.
The commission will also consult on proposals to help clarify the methods the regulator uses to calculate financial penalties, and how it will seek to ensure that the penalties exceed any potential gains from non-compliance with regulations, Rhodes said.
Rhodes also said he found the amusement industry’s level of compliance with gambling regulations to be “broadly positive”.
“We are not routinely finding failings in your part of the gambling industry that require us to take dramatic enforcement action,” he said.
Also at the meeting, Stuart Andrew, the minister in charge of gambling issues, told the trade group members that the government plans to publish its proposals for gambling reform early next year, with implementation on target for Summer 2024.
California Tribal Opposition Solid Against Sports-Betting Initiatives
James Siva, chairman of the California Nationals Indian Gaming Association (CNIGA), warned those behind two sports-betting initiatives that voters in the state have no appetite to revisit the issue next year.
“At least a dozen polls have shown the California voter is not ready for retail. That tends to poll even worse for online,” Siva said Wednesday (November 22) during a webinar hosted by the Indian Gaming Association.
Siva said 30 percent of the state’s population is anti-gambling, and always has been.
The two initiatives, the "Sports Wagering Regulation and Tribal Gaming Protection Act" and the "Tribal Gaming Protection Act", are facing a November 27 deadline for public comments.
Siva also dismissed reports of tribes submitting amendments to the ballot initiatives. Both proposals face a December 1 deadline to submit amendments.
“They are willing to make amendments,” Siva said. “Why would we risk our credibility by partnering with them.”
Pala Interactive co-founders Kasey Thompson and Reeve Collins created Eagle 1 Acquisition Company LLC and are the authors of the two proposals.
Missouri Sports Betting Swings From Legislature To Ballot
Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft has approved final ballot language for several initiatives submitted by professional sports teams to let voters, not the legislature, decide the fate of sports betting.
Ashcroft approved the language on Tuesday (November 21), leaving supporters to choose between one of eight versions to put before the voters. Missouri’s professional sports teams, including the St. Louis Blues of the National Hockey League, will need to collect 170,000 signatures to place the initiative on the ballot.
The decision to take the issue to Missouri voters comes after years of failed attempts by the legislature to legalize mobile and retail sports betting. The coalition of professional sports teams filed eight proposed ballot questions with some versions allowing one retail and mobile license while others would allow four mobile licenses.
The petitions, which were initially filed on October 4, would impose a 10 percent tax on revenues. Each of Missouri’s professional franchises and the 13 casinos in the state could offer retail and mobile betting.
The plan also calls for establishing a $5m problem gambling fund.
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