News In Brief: July 17-July 21, 2023

July 21, 2023
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The UK government has rejected calls to treat cryptocurrency trading like gambling and control of a planned $4bn resort in Vietnam changes hands.

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Crypto Is Not Gambling In UK

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The UK will not treat cryptocurrency as gambling, despite advice by the Treasury Committee to do so.

Financial services minister Andrew Griffith responded to the report on Thursday (July 21), saying that it “firmly disagrees” with the suggestion that crypto trading be brought under gambling legislation.

"The Committee’s proposed approach would therefore risk creating misalignment with international standards and approaches from other major jurisdictions, including the EU, and potentially create unclear and overlapping mandates between financial regulators and the Gambling Commission," said Griffith.

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Chow Tai Fook Assumes Hoiana Operations

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Hong Kong-based jewellery and gaming giant Chow Tai Fook has taken day-to-day control of the Hoiana integrated resort (IR) near Da Nang, Vietnam, Bloomberg reported.

Citing unnamed sources, Thursday's (July 20) report said resort co-investor LET Group Holdings, formerly run by jailed gaming mogul Alvin Chau, has ceded day-to-day control of the property to the majority owner.

The report did not elaborate on management changes at what will eventually be a $4bn resort, and did not report any change in LET’s stake in the property, whose third investor is local investment management giant VinaCapital.

The change strengthens Chow Tai Fook’s profile as a gaming operator and investor after decades of parent company dabbling in gaming investment, most notably in the parent of Macau’s SJM Holdings.

In recent years, the Cheng family owners of Chow Tai Fook have taken over the litigation-plagued Baha Mar IR in the Bahamas and are a major investor in the under-construction Queen’s Wharf IR precinct in Brisbane, Australia.

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Brazil Creates Positions For New Sports-Betting Body

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A provisional measure was published on Tuesday (July 18) creating 65 positions for the brand new Secretariat for Betting and Lotteries, a key step in the road to sports-betting regulation.

The measure was published in an extra edition of Brazil’s Official Gazette.

The new secretariat will control the licensing process for sports betting and will be a part of the Ministry of Finance.

The lack of appointments was of chief concern to Fernando Haddad’s Ministry of Finance, which has struggled to push through the provisional measure to regulate sports betting.

Without a secretariat, it said it could not begin to prepare to build infrastructure for the pending provisional measure and the sports-betting bill that is meant to be coming after the end of the parliamentary match-fixing investigation in the autumn.

Although the Ministry of Finance promised a provisional measure by July 17, it did not appear before lawmakers ended the latest session of parliament.

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EU Confirms It Is Investigating Malta Bill

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The European Commission has reaffirmed its investigation into the controversial bill in Malta which shields local operators from court judgments in other EU countries.

In a written letter to the European Parliament on behalf of European Commission justice commissioner Didier Reynders, the commission said it was continuing to assess the bill, which has already been passed into law in Malta.

The short statement reads: “The Commission is aware of the draft Maltese Bill No 55/2023 amending the ‘Gaming Act, Cap. 583’. The Commission is in the process of assessing the compatibility of the draft Bill with EU law and requested the Maltese authorities to provide further information.

“The Commission will decide on the appropriate follow up steps after having received and analysed this information.

“The Commission does not have any information about possible links of individual members of the Maltese Government with the Maltese gambling industry.”

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Berlin Bookmakers' Bid To Bust Restrictions Fails

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Bookmakers in the German capital state of Berlin have failed in their legal bid to remove a restriction preventing them from setting up shop within 500 metres of any existing gambling arcades.

The court also approved that the minimum distance of 2,000 metres between bookmakers must also be maintained.

The decision was made by the Administrative Court of Berlin on July 13, dismissing legal challenges by two betting operators.

Bookmakers that had several locations rejected by the State Office for Citizens and Regulatory Affairs (LABO) argued that the law is unconstitutional and contrary to European law, as it puts them at a disadvantage compared with gambling arcades.

However, the court dismissed the complaints by the bookmakers, stating that the law protects people against the dangers of addiction and that gambling products can be treated differently under German law.

“The prevention of local monopolies serves the variety of offers and thus also serves to protect the players,” the court stated.

An appeal to the Berlin-Brandenburg Higher Administrative Court is permitted.

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Maine On Track For November Sports-Betting Launch

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The final rules governing sports betting in Maine have been submitted by the Gambling Control Unit to the attorney general for legal review with an anticipated adoption in November, according to an update released Monday (July 17).

“Temporary or initial licenses will be issued on the day of adoption to allow licensees to go live and offer wagers on sports according to law and rule,” said Shannon Moss, spokeswoman for the Maine Department of Public Safety.

Moss told VIXIO GamblingCompliance that given the timeline for the attorney general’s office, “if there are no hiccups, we could go live with secretary of state approval sometime in November.”

“Shooting for around Thanksgiving,” Moss said.

According to the law singed by Governor Janet Mills, a Democrat, in May 2022, each of the state’s four federally-recognized Indian tribes will be eligible for a license to conduct online sports betting in the state.

The state’s four tribes are the Aroostook Band of Micmac Indians, Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians, the Passamaquoddy Tribe and the Penobscot Nation.

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Kentucky Creates Sports-Betting Advisory Council

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Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear, a Democrat, has signed an executive order to create a Sports Wagering Advisory Council, as the state prepares to launch retail wagering in early September, followed by mobile betting later in the month.

The six-member council will consist of the Public Protection Cabinet Secretary, three members of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission (KHRC), a current employee at the KHRC, and two at-large appointees named by Beshear.

One of the commission members will serve as chair of the council. Part of the group’s mission will include working with both the Public Protection Cabinet and the governor’s officer.

According to Beshear’s executive order creating the council, the group will draft regulations, propose an initial and subsequent budget, and examine multi-jurisdictional wagering and working with another jurisdiction. The council will also perform tasks related to sports betting delegated to them by the KHRC.

Beshear's two-page executive order became effective on Thursday (July 13).

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Chile's Casinos Enlist Consumer Protection Agency To Attack Online Platforms

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Chile’s Superintendence of Gaming Casinos (SCJ) has issued a warning to citizens together with the National Consumer Service (SERNAC) against gambling online.

The warning comes on the heels of the meeting last week between SERNAC and the Chilean Association of Casinos (ACCJ) to discuss the 157 consumer complaints filed against the platforms in the last three years.

The statement warned of scamming and a lack of protection to citizens as long as online gambling remains unregulated in the country.

Andrés Herrera, the director of SERNAC, commented that “online gambling is not regulated in our country, being illegal, and therefore consumers who access this type of services are exposed to eventual non-compliance and scams, such as, for example, prizes that are not delivered or conditions offered that are not fulfilled. Therefore, the call to consumers is to be self-careful, not to expose themselves to contract this type of services and, even less, to get into debt to access them."

Online gaming platforms operate in the grey market in Chile; their lawyers insist the activity is not illegal, while land-based casinos insist that it is.

The statement highlighted that both regulatory bodies look forward to the pending online gambling bill becoming law, and stated their gratitude for being heard in the Chamber of Deputies during discussion pertaining to the text.

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The UK government has rejected calls to treat cryptocurrency trading like gambling and control of a planned $4bn resort in Vietnam changes hands.

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