Publication date: 05 Sep 2023

August has passed and brought a lot of new and interesting things. On 3S.INFO we have collected the most significant things about casinos and bookmakers: news of legislation, tightening of conditions, new rules of advertising. All in one place, here and at once!

Let’s start with the important stuff! What’s up with Malta? A recent audit found that Malta’s Bill 55 is incompatible with European Union legislation. The governments of Germany, Austria and the Netherlands were opposed.  But how to force Malta to reconsider its decision is unknown. 

Another crucial jurisdiction, Curaçao, is starting to issue gambling licenses. The new Gambling Commission portal will accept applications (both from new and existing operators) from 15 November 2023. The cost of obtaining a 1-year permit is €49,000 / $54,000.
As well, the Curaçao Gaming Control Board (GCB) is conducting an investigation into problem gambling. For the first time since 2003, data on ludomania, player protection and the operation of offshore companies will be collected and analyzed. The work has been entrusted to the Inter-Continental University of the Caribbean (ICUC).

Legal casinos and bookmakers: legislative news

Good news comes from several countries at once. 

In the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the authorities have taken the first step towards casino legalization and created a body to regulate the national lottery and commercial gaming. The regulator will coordinate the work of all structures in the industry, supervise the issuance of licenses and “help build the economic potential of commercial gaming”. There are plans to create a “socially responsible and well-regulated environment for gaming, ensuring that all participants adhere to clear rules and meet the highest standards”.

Sri Lanka has endorsed the creation of a legal gambling regulator. Not only the management of the most games of chance will now be under control, but also responsible gaming. The authorities are eager to create competitive conditions to fight illegal operators and establish equal rules for new and current market players. 

Chile is preparing for the legalization of gambling. The basic bill was drafted in early 2023, and technical aspects are currently being finalized. Online casinos and sports betting are expected to become legal in the country. Unlicensed and offshore operators will face criminal liability. However, market participants are already criticizing the possible tax rate of 40%.

Gambling legislation development: what’s next?

Greece is gearing up to amend the rules of the gambling market.  Hellenic Gaming Commission (EEEP) has proposed the creation of a national self-exclusion register for players struggling with addiction. There are also plans to introduce a player card and more advanced training for casino staff. At the moment, the proposals have been sent to operators and their views will later be considered by the government. 

Italy will undertake a comprehensive review of its gambling laws.  The government has acknowledged that the gambling sector requires “a reorganization of tax levies as well as the introduction of new player protection measures aimed at creating a more transparent and accountable industry.”

In particular, the modernization will affect the concession model for Italian gambling franchises and the further introduction of a fixed standard of rules for the operation of gambling venues. Furthermore, betting limits and automatic payouts will be revised along with the introduction of a ban on betting on ‘underage sporting events’.

The Italian regulator is expected to present new gambling laws by the end of September 2023 

In Russia, several important changes concerning the operation of the gambling and betting market have taken place immediately: 

  • On 1 August, the law on the digital ruble came into force. However, a prohibition on the use of digital currency in any money transactions related to gambling was immediately introduced (it will not be possible to make/accept bets, receive winnings).
  • The law on blocking the funds and property of citizens and legal entities against whom Russia applies sanctions was signed. Specifically, betting companies and sweepstakes companies are obliged to refuse to accept bets, including online betting, and pay out winnings to such people.

In the near future, Ukraine plans to introduce tougher measures to combat illegal gambling. In July 2023, a new law to prevent money laundering and terrorist financing (AML/CTF) came into force there. Gambling operators may now face tougher scheduled or unscheduled inspections.

Moreover, the Gambling and Lotteries Commission (KRAIL) has published data on blocking illegal gambling sites. According to the agency, 72% of the site operating without a license were closed down in the first 8 months of 2022.

Promotion of betting and gambling: advertising rules of different countries 

In Brazil, a new bill has been drafted that prohibits celebrities from advertising gambling.  If the bill is passed, violators will face penalties in the form of fines or suspension of business activities for up to eight years.

In India, the government requires an immediate halt to all gambling advertising on all platforms. In August 2023, a “recommendation document” was published, calling on online news media, advertising companies and social networks to cease all gambling and betting promotion.  It is stated that the Indian Police Service will undertake strict measures against influencers found to be promoting online gambling. 

In Canada (Ontario province), the use of images of public figures (both active and those who have already completed their careers) is forbidden. The list of celebrities includes athletes, “role models”, social media influencers, entertainers, cartoon characters and icons that “have influence on minors”.

Herewith, it is possible to use images of famous people in materials with the purpose of propaganda of responsible play. Changes to the legislation will come into force from 28 February 2024.

France has introduced a new law prohibiting influencers from promoting betting and gambling in social networks. The fine for violation is 300 thousand euros or imprisonment up to 2 years, the liability of the platforms themselves will also be toughened. 

In Ecuador, any advertising of all sports betting systems or sports predictions is prohibited as part of the communications law. Nevertheless, this decision is likely to be challenged in the courts by betting operators in the near future.

A regulated gambling market means budget revenues 

We have said many times that a regulated gambling market is beneficial to all market participants.  Companies offering games of chance not only earn money themselves, but also make a significant contribution to the state budget.  This money can be channelled into sports, social projects and health development.

Ghana has introduced a new tax on winnings in all games of chance (sports betting, casinos, lotteries) equal to 10%. The tax will be automatically withheld at the time winnings are paid. Besides, the tax will not be deducted if the payout amount is the same or less than the bet amount.

The innovation provoked a sharp response from the opposition: representatives of George Opare Addo’s party urged people to “seize the parliament and other government institutions”. In their opinion, the new tax policy “unfairly affects the youth of the country and the betting industry as a whole”.

India has passed new legislative amendments to its tax regime. All offshore online gambling companies are now required to register and pay a flat tax “for supplying online money games to an individual within the taxable territory”. 

Lithuania has enacted new laws focused on streamlining the gambling industry. The government desires to create a sustainable structure that provides a level playing field for all gambling operators and enhances the overall integrity of the industry.

Gambling businesses in Lithuania will now be subject to special state license fees. Their amount will depend on the type and scale of the activity:

  • opening a casino, slot machine parlour or bingo hall will cost €1504;
  • opening a betting shop or sweepstakes will cost €717; 
  • permit extension for a casino or betting company – €186;
  • launching an iGaming brand in Lithuania is now subject to a unique fee structure and will result in a cost of €784;
  • any changes to opening permits now – an additional €369.

Ukraine has refunded the 18% tax on gross revenue from online casinos. Recall that in April 2022, the gambling business was transferred to a simplified taxation system which is a flat tax of 2% of turnover. The return of the previous rate is planned to bring about UAH 1.5bn (about $40.6m) a year to the budget.

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