News In Brief: April 22-April 26, 2024

April 26, 2024
A criminal investigation has triggered the suspension of licences in the Isle of Man, a bill in Ukraine that would dissolve the regulator advances and a Dutch politician calls for a debate on player refunds.
Isle Of Man Suspends Two Licensees Over 'Criminal Investigation'

The Isle of Man’s Gambling Supervision Commission has suspended the operating licences of two companies, citing an “ongoing criminal investigation”.

Suspended pending regulatory review were King Gaming and a related company, Dalmine, the commission said.

Stories in gambling media have suggested that King is Asia-focused. Websites run by the brand include simplified Chinese language content.

In a statement, police on the Isle of Man confirmed that arrests had taken place.

"[On] Wednesday the 24th April The Isle of Man Constabulary executed a series of warrants on business premises on Victoria Road and Bucks Road in Douglas. In relation to those warrants seven people were arrested and subsequently released on police bail.  A number of people found on the premises at Victoria Road were subject of further immigration interviews involving the IOM Immigration Services and those enquiries are ongoing," the island's police force said.

"This activity is part of a wider fraud and money laundering investigation being led by the IOM Constabulary’s Proactive International Money Laundering and Investigation Team in relation to King Gaming Ltd IOM. Enquiries are being conducted in close liaison with partners within the Islands AML/CFT regulatory and intelligence network to fully investigate these matters."

Last year, Isle of Man Today reported that the King was having built what was billed as the “largest single private investment in the Isle of Man”, with about 300 jobs and 100 of the company’s staffers to be housed at the site.


Ukraine Passes Bill That Would Disband Regulator

Ukraine's parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, has passed on first reading a bill that would disband the country’s gambling regulator, the Commission for the Regulation of Gambling and Lotteries (KRAIL).

The vote, taken on Wednesday (April 24), would transfer the regulator’s powers to the Ministry of Digital Transformation.

Other aspects of the proposal would further restrict gambling games, ban advertising, seek tools to safeguard vulnerable citizens and propose guidelines for cancelling licences, according to the Kyiv Independent. About 272 legislators supported the measure, the newspaper said.

Earlier this month, President Volodymyr Zelensky signed a decree which would ban soldiers from gambling online for as long as martial law is in effect.

Dutch Lawmaker Calls For Debate On Gambling Refund Lawsuits

A Dutch member of parliament has called for a plenary debate on player refund lawsuits, a growing issue in the Netherlands.

Nicolien van Vroonhoven of the New Social Contract party requested the debate, which has not been scheduled yet.

Earlier this month, a Dutch court ordered Flutter Entertainment and Entain to reimburse a gambler’s losses from the period before online gambling was legal in the country.

Northern Cyprus Raises Casino Station Rates, Halves Gaming Tax

The Northern Cypriot parliament on Monday (April 22) raised table and slot machine rates by 17 percent while cutting the overall gaming tax from 10 percent to 5 percent.

The passage of the law aims to enhance accountability of casino revenue reporting, but this methodology “is in no way compatible with reality,” the Cyprus Mail quoted opposition lawmaker and finance committee member Erkut Sahali as saying on Thursday.

Halving tax payable on overall gaming services after deduction of winnings “is where the real change was made”, Sahali said.

The government believes it must “accept whatever the casinos [report on revenue] as truth. However, the government also knows, and casinos are openly saying, that they earn much more in profits and gross income than they declare.

“For this reason, the government thinks that by halving the rate of its gaming services tax, casinos will have to report twice the gross income to pay the same amount of tax, thus increasing the amount of money recorded,” he said.

But Sahali added that the effect of the change will be to undercut consolidated revenue.

“Currently, 14 of the 31 active casinos pay more taxes than the minimum tax rate they can pay. Some even pay four times more tax than the minimum. Therefore, since the tax rate has been cut in half, the amount of tax paid by 14 taxes will also be cut in half,” he said.

Victoria To Ramp Penalties For Crown, Close Associates

The Victoria state government said on Friday (April 26) that it will introduce further legislation to punish Crown Resorts if it fails to implement a transformation plan for the Crown Melbourne casino.

The legislation will increase penalties if Crown does not “comply with the Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission’s (VGCCC) statutory direction to implement the Melbourne Transformation Plan” outlined in the VGCCC’s decision to restore Crown’s casino licence.

Tougher penalties wielded by the VGCCC will apply not only to the casino, but also to the casino’s close associates, “reflecting their material influence over compliance behaviour”, the government said in a statement.

Citing the final report by the casino’s temporary special manager into Crown’s two-year probation period and regaining of suitability, gaming minister Melissa Horne said that Crown’s “transformation efforts must continue”, and the new legislation will ensure this.

“This isn’t set and forget,” she said. “We’re further enhancing the VGCCC’s powers to ensure what happened in the past at Crown Melbourne can never happen again.”

The announcement coincided with the VGCCC’s release on Friday of the special manager’s final report, released in its entirety bar a small number of redactions.

Brazil Votes On Gaming Expansion, Winnings Taxes Delayed

A Brazil Senate committee held its first official hearing on Wednesday (April 24) on a closely-watched bill to regulate land-based casino-resorts, bingo halls and video-bingo machines that were passed by the lower house of Brazil’s Congress in February 2022.

However, members of the Senate Committee on Constitutional, Judicial and Citizenry (CCJ) affairs declined to vote on the bill, as they instead approved two motions filed by anti-gambling senators to hold a more detailed public hearing on the measure.

Bill 2234/2022 is now tentatively scheduled to be discussed by the CCJ committee on May 15, according to the committee’s president, Senator Davi Alcolumbre.

Also on Wednesday, Brazil’s Senate and Chamber of Deputies postponed a planned vote on whether to override President Lula da Silva’s veto of specific language in December’s separate legislation to authorize online sports betting and online gaming. 

As approved by Congress, the original version of the law would have applied the player winnings tax of 15 percent to players’ annual net winnings above a threshold of around US$450.

The veto means it is currently uncertain how exactly the 15 percent tax will be applied.

The lower house and Senate are now expected to consider the issue, along with several dozen unrelated vetoes, at some point in May.

Pennsylvania Senate Bill Seeks To Ban Credit Cards For Online Gaming

New legislation that would prohibit the use of credit cards to fund online gaming accounts in Pennsylvania was referred on Wednesday (April 24) to the Senate Community, Economic & Recreational Development Committee.

Senate Bill 1159, sponsored by Senator Wayne Fontana, a Democrat, specifically prohibits the use of credit cards for iLottery, online casino games, sports betting and fantasy sports. 

Fontana cited research from Pennsylvania State University that found more than 36 percent of online gaming participants in the state have reported at least one gambling problem.

“Gambling and credit card debt often go hand in hand since this disorder can lead to financial problems that affect one’s ability to pay off debt,” Fontana said in a memorandum released last month announcing his intention to file SB 1159.

Canadian Football League Suspends Player For Gambling

After uncovering that defensive lineman Shawn Lemon bet on Canadian Football League (CFL) games in 2021, the league suspended him indefinitely on Wednesday (April 24). 

In a statement, the CFL said Lemon wagered on games, including one in which he played, as a member of the Calgary Stampeders. Currently, Lemon is a member of the Montreal Alouettes. 

“While the investigation uncovered clear and irrefutable evidence of Mr. Lemon’s participation, no evidence was found to indicate matches were in any way impacted by his wagering,” the CFL said in a statement. 

The CFL also stated that it found no evidence to indicate that any Calgary coaches, teammates, or team personnel were aware of his gambling activities. 

 “The integrity of our game is of the utmost importance,” said CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie. “Any other factors — career performance, actions in the community, timing, frequency or size of wagers — hold no weight when the legitimacy of the CFL can be called into question.” 

Lemon’s suspension was the second in about a month involving a professional athlete in Canada. 

The National Basketball Association last week issued a lifetime ban for Toronto Raptors player Jontay Porter for betting on NBA games through a proxy, leaking confidential information to bettors and altering betting outcomes by leaving games early with purported illness or injury.

Singapore, UK Sign Commingling Deal

Singapore Pools and the UK Tote Group will commingle pools, directly channelling Singaporean punter bets into British horseracing ahead of the closure of the local racecourse.

The two groups signed an agreement in partnership with Arena Racing Company and Racecourse Media Group, according to a joint statement on Wednesday (April 24).

“This creates bigger UK pools, ensuring a better customer experience for racing fans in the UK and in Singapore and an improved financial return to the sport,” it said.

The deal expands the “longstanding partnership with British racing”, whose events have been broadcast in Singapore since 2010, Singapore Pools chief product officer Simon Leong said.

The deal is not bidirectional given that the Singapore Turf Club will hold its final event, the 100th Grand Singapore Gold Cup, this October. 

The Singapore Racecourse will be then returned to the government, which will redevelop the site for public housing and other uses.

Singapore has existing commingling arrangements with Tabcorp Holdings in Australia and the Hong Kong Jockey Club.

Kazakhstan Legal Changes Including Gambling Ad Ban Clear First Hurdle

Kazakhstan parliament’s lower house has approved the first reading of a gambling bill that would introduce advertising restrictions and other player protection measures.

A second reading of the bill has yet to be scheduled.

An accompanying draft law on amending the Code of Administrative Offences was also approved on April 22.

Elnur Beisenbaev, an MP and executive secretary of the ruling Amanat Party, told his fellow lawmakers that “urgent” action is needed as “gambling addiction is growing like an epidemic in Kazakhstan and is threatening the country's security”.

“It is necessary to eliminate the causes that lead to such a situation and to take urgent measures to heal society from this disease,” he said.

The law would ban advertising online, TV and radio channels, periodicals, movies, and SMS messages, as well as prohibit bloggers from promoting gambling. Restrictions on advertising outside will also be introduced. 

The age limit for gambling will be raised from 21 to 25 years. 

Kazakhstanis who have failed to repay loans or alimony will be banned from gambling.

Additionally, gambling operators will be required to integrate their hardware and software into the State Revenue Committee’s monitoring system.

Arkansas Casino Lobbies For iGaming Approval

An Arkansas casino is asking regulators to authorize internet casino games, noting that the regulations authorizing interactive gaming are already among the state’s gaming regulations. 

In a letter dated March 13, Carlton Saffa, chief marketing officer at Saracen Casino Resort, wrote to Arkansas Racing Commission (ARC) chairman Alex Lieblong asking for the change in the regulations. 

Known as ARC Rule 5, it already authorizes interactive gaming for Arkansas casinos to operate a card game, poker, online and for real money.

“Amending this rule to include other already authorized games would not only provide an opportunity for the casino licensees you regulate but it would also generate significant sums for the government,” Saffa wrote.

Saffa estimated iGaming would generate $3.7m in additional purse support for horseracing, $5.6m in local tax revenue, and an estimated $12m in state tax revenue. 

Vixio GamblingCompliance obtained the letter on Tuesday (April 23). The commission is scheduled to meet in May, but no date or agenda has been posted on the ARC’s website. 

Skill Games Could Be Pawn In Virginia Budget Talks

Republican Governor Glenn Youngkin and state lawmakers have agreed to a special session beginning May 13 to work out their difference on the state budget, which could lead to a compromise on a bill to regulate and tax skill games. 

Virginia senators recently rejected the amendments Youngkin proposed to Senate Bill 212, sending it back to the governor who as of Tuesday (April 23) has not vetoed the measure opposed by Hard Rock, Caesars Entertainment, and other company executives. 

Among the changes suggested by Youngkin were geographical limits on the machines, limits on devices per location, and a tax rate of 35 percent. The General Assembly agreed to a 25 percent tax rate. 

Youngkin could still veto SB 212 and an override is unlikely due to more House opposition. The original bill passed the Senate 32-8, and senators voted 34-6 to reject Youngkin’s amendments.

The House passed the bill 51-45. Under state law, both chambers need to vote with a two-thirds majority to pass a bill without Youngkin’s signature. 

If the skill games bill fails, the ban will remain in effect, and it is expected the issue will be on the agenda again when lawmakers return to Richmond for a 30-day session in January. 

Hard Rock Reaffirms Interest In Brazil, Japan

Hard Rock International’s chief executive has reaffirmed his company’s interest in opening branded casino-resorts in Brazil and Japan.

“It’s the final stages of iGaming and sports betting in Brazil,” said CEO Jim Allen. “We are very active in Brazil and have been for about 14 years. If land-based gaming is approved, we have ten hotel deals done there.”

Allen said three of the hotels are under construction.

“So, we see that part of the world as very important. So, we see that different part of the world as very important,” Allen told attendees last week at the East Coast Gaming Congress at the Hard Rock Casino in Atlantic City.

As Hard Rock looks at the international market, Allen said, it is participating in the Middle East with a Hard Rock Café in Dubai and is still standing in Japan. The company has been clear about wanting to build an integrated resort in Japan and hired Machida in 2018 to serve as its subsidiary.

Hard Rock also has offices in Hokkaido and Tokyo.

“It has been a very long and challenging road,” Allen said. “They say one of the things in life to be successful, you can never give up. Well, we are still in Japan.”

Retired Justice Appointed To Nevada Gaming Commission

Former state Supreme Court Justice Abbi Silver has been appointed to the Nevada Gaming Commission to replace commissioner Ogonna Brown, Republican Governor Joe Lombardo’s office confirmed Monday (April 22).  

Brown was appointed to the five-member commission by former Governor Steve Sisolak, a Democrat, in July 2020. She is also a partner at Lewis Roca Rothgerber in Las Vegas. Her term concludes on Saturday (April 27).

Silver, who served on the Nevada Supreme Court for nearly four years, remains the only judge in state history to have been elected to every court in Nevada’s court system.

“I’m honored to be appointed to the Nevada Gaming Commission,” Silver said in a statement. “I’m grateful to Governor Lombardo for entrusting me with this dynamic role, and I look forward to serving our state.”

The state’s two-tier system comprises the commission and the Nevada Gaming Control Board. The commission is the final authority on licensing matters that have been previously recommended by the NGCB.

Coljuegos President Announces Plans To Restructure

Marco Emilio Hincapié, the president of the Colombian regulatory body Coljuegos, has announced a restructuring of his organisation.

He said that the “institutional design” dates back 13 years and that “if in 2012 we received COP$220,000m in transfers, and today we are receiving close to COP$897,000m, it is essential to strengthen ourselves institutionally”.

Hincapié also mentioned that he aims “in the long term” to have US$3bn in profit for the Colombian healthcare system, which is the beneficiary of gambling taxes in the country. 

He has brought in the Higher School of Public Administration (ESAP) as consultants, which say it will take eight months for them to complete their work of presenting an organisational restructuring plan.


A criminal investigation has triggered the suspension of licences in the Isle of Man, a bill in Ukraine that would dissolve the regulator advances and a Dutch politician calls for a debate on player refunds.

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