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LCB on Maltese approach to gambling regulation

For all its advantages, gambling online can be a dangerous endeavor. In an age when our favorite casino games are only a click away, it is hard to believe that such a wide-spread phenomenon is still lacking a global legal framework to protect both operators and consumers. Instead, we find ourselves caught in a confusing whirlwind of constant changes, where we’re never really sure where we stand in legal terms. Regulations differ from country to country, from one venue to another, and often stand opposed to each other, complicating matters even further. Players quickly learn that to pass unscathed in this dynamic environment; there are safety measures to be taken first.

The first thing most of us look for in a casino is an appropriate license issued by an established authority. A valid permit should not be easy to come by nor to keep, so we take it as an indicator of a trustworthy company. There exist many licensing jurisdictions in the world today, a fact that poses another dilemma for both players and the companies seeking to operate a gaming site: which of them is of the highest merit?

There is no absolute answer to this question – all governing institutions have certain advantages and disadvantages when it comes to the kind of assurance they provide. One of the oldest and best known legislative establishments is the Malta Gaming Authority.

Malta was the first of the EU member states to regulate gambling on the Internet. Looking for ways to boost its economic growth, the country recognized the potential of the increasingly popular remote gaming and chose to cultivate this entertainment branch by giving the sector a set of necessary control measures. The framework implemented when the industry as a whole lacked coherent regulations, and as such, it’s considered a standard today. Malta is among the world’s largest and most popular jurisdictions, having issued licenses to more than 200 operators since its conception.

Simplified Application Procedures

The MGA used to grant multiple types of licenses relating to different gaming categories and platforms. Operators who wanted to run casino games, betting on sports and poker all within the same website, as well as on desktop and mobile, had to acquire a permission for each of these, making the procedures overly long and complicated. It was improved upon in 2004 when the legislation was corrected to simplify the application processes. In this respect, the license classes that the MGA now awards are closer in type to most other jurisdictions.

Low cost

International companies are attracted to Malta due to the affordable corporate and income taxes. Annual fees vary depending on the type and number of licenses granted, but a maximum gaming tax does not exceed €460,000. While some others, like Curacao, charge nothing whatsoever, the MGA fees can still be considered competitive.

Fair Conditions

The requirements and protocols that the MGA imposes on applicants and license holders are quite rigorous but fair. Regarding the difficulty of obtaining approval, they can be considered middle ground between the strictest and the most lenient that exist today. Companies must be, at least in part, physically located in Malta. Solid reputation and the outline of a business plan are expected of all applicants. To run a proper business, ensure player protection and prevent money laundering, casinos must maintain financial records and monthly reports of player balances, follow data security protocols and endorse responsible gaming. One notable condition, not all jurisdictions require is the certification of fairness obtained six months prior – this ensures the software is using random number generators to produce the outcomes of the games. Furthermore, in a case of any changes to the already certified software, the company must be audited again.

Malta is also the only governing body to keep track of online casinos that falsely claim to hold their licenses – the list is published and updated accordingly on the official website.

Effective Support Functions are in the Works

In recent times, the MGA has been focusing on improving the laws relating to player support and protection. This segment criticized in the past as inadequate has the jurisdiction promising higher quality services to match those offered to operators. A particular emphasis is given to support options directly with authority itself, and to this end, they have recently implemented a live chat function on the website.

In addition to monthly audits of player funds, licensed casinos ensure all customers are of legal age and have the options of self-limitation, self-exclusion and access to the Responsible Gaming Foundation to promote responsible gambling and helping risk players.

Due to the experience, longevity, stringency and the fact that many established casinos operate under its supervision, Malta has earned a reputable status in the industry. Holding a strong position as one of the most attractive European-based regulators, it remains committed to enhancing fraud prevention, as well as consumer support.

Have you attended SiGMA last year? Relive the highlights from our last show and stay tuned for this year’s SiGMA. Watch out for what we’re branding as the ‘iGaming Village’ this year.

Twitch now requires broadcasting licence in Germany

The popular live-streaming video platform Twitch, owned by Twitch Interactive, a subsidiary of Amazon.com has recently been labeled in Germany as a “radio service offering” therefore now requiring a broadcasting license from the 30th April of this month.

The well known German YouTube and Twitch channel PietSmiet has officially been recognized by the German authorities Landesmedienanstalt as a “radio service” and they have temporarily ruled the requirement of a broadcasting license to continue to stream. This license costs between €1,000 to €10,000 depending on the number of viewers.

This temporary ruling is due to the outdated laws and guidelines concerning technology in Germany and in need of an update as stated by The Landesmedienanstalt. Meaning, in the future, there is a possibility of a change in these rules. However, at the moment, without a license now, these stations will be classed as pirate stations and subject to shut down.

These rulings have also come about from the need to stop TV and radio stations from billing themselves as streaming companies to avoid paying a broadcasting license.

Twitch was introduced in June 2011 and is a spin-off to the general-interest Justin.tv which was a site that focused mostly on video gaming which also included playthroughs of video games, creative content, eSports competitions and the most recent addition, music broadcasts.

It has been a hit for many popular and well followed live video gamers who stream live while playing online games or online casino gambling with over 100 million following monthly. Malta-based “Mr Casino “is a well-known Twitch star who SiGMA had the opportunity to interview last year.

Germany, however, is not the only country to take this stance on Twitch. The Chinese government has also introduced a number of new regulations to control content streamed on sites like Twitch and its Chinese equivalents forcing streamers to register with their real names and also banning the streaming of games not allowed or approved in China.

Have you attended SiGMA last year? Relive the highlights from our last show and stay tuned for this year’s SiGMA. Watch out for what we’re branding as the ‘iGaming Village’ this year.

888 considers relocating from Gibraltar to Malta post-Brexit

In an annual report by one of the world’s most popular online gaming operators & platform providers, 888 Holdings PLC Company, it was stated that they were considering a possibility that post-Brexit, they may have to move their headquarters from Gibraltar to Malta.

In the report, they highlighted the various risks that the European online gaming industry faced. One of them is currently the uncertainty of Brexit as most of their business is presently drawn from the UK. Although they stated they were considering moving their headquarters and license away from the Rock, they will still retain some presence there.

According to the report, it said: “The proposed status of Gibraltar in relation to the United Kingdom as a result of ‘Brexit’ is at present unclear. If 888 were to remain registered, licensed and operating in Gibraltar in these circumstances, its ability to rely on EU freedom of services/establishment principles in supplying its services within the EU will be limited.”

It went on to state: “Brexit could adversely affect economic or market conditions in the United Kingdom, Europe or globally and could contribute to instability in global financial markets, in particular until there is more certainty as to the form that Brexit will take and its effect on Gibraltar, the United Kingdom and the EU. Malta may be considered as an alternative ‘dot com’ licensing jurisdiction.”

There are currently around 30 leading iGaming and sports betting companies regulated and licensed in Gibraltar including BetVictor, Ladbrokes, 32Red, Bet365, Yggdrasil, NetEnt, Bwin and Lottoland to name a few.

Not every gaming company in Gibraltar predicts the same post-Brexit future for their company as 888 Holdings. Bwin’s GVC Holdings group stated: “Beyond the impact of currency movements there has been no visible impact on the business from the UK’s decision to seek an exit from the EU. The Group has greater sterling costs than revenues and therefore the impact from sterling weakness is a net positive. The detail of how the UK intends to exit the EU is yet to be decided, however, management believe GVC’s global footprint gives it significant flexibility to face any challenges that may arise.”

In the meantime, Lottoland, which offers the world’s biggest jackpots and attracts around four million players has confirmed their loyalty to the Rock.  Its operating base is located in Gibraltar’s Ocean Village Marina development with over 160 employees.

Nigel Birrell, Lottoland CEO stated: “We began operating from Gibraltar in May 2013 and it has been the perfect base for our business, providing an excellent platform for our success… Our business is thriving and the benefits of staying in Gibraltar remain very strong indeed.”

Have you attended SiGMA last year? Relive the highlights from our last show and stay tuned for this year’s SiGMA. Watch out for what we’re branding as the ‘iGaming Village’ this year.

Yggdrasil revamps classic Beauty and the Beast love story with new slot

Online mobile and casino games provider Yggdrasil Gaming has launched their latest online slots, the legendary french fairy tale Beauty & the Beast. They have reimagined this classic fairy tale with stunning visuals and immersive soundscape, transporting players to a mythical make-believe wonderland.

The new slot is now available in some favourite online casinos and boasts of haunting characters like the butler, the chef and the maid with their own special features. These include the Nudge Reels, Synced Reels and Random Wilds aid players to improve on their winnings. In the Free Spins mode, one of these three features is always active bringing players bigger wins.

The Golden Bet feature is the highlight of the title that allows players to increase their chances of hitting the Free Spins on a frequent basis in the base game as well as unlocking more features in the Free Spin mode.

Jonas Strandman, Head of Gaming at Yggdrasil Gaming said:  “Beauty & the Beast summons the romance of the legendary fairy tale in what is one of our most beautiful games to date.

“With stunning visuals and effects, the player will feel a part of the story and love the game-play. Enhanced by Golden Bet, the player will have the choice to alter the reward structure to their preference.

“The story aligns to what makes our casino games so enjoyable, with our beauty taking a chance and being handsomely rewarded for it.”

The Beauty & the Beast slot follows all the other Yggdrasil’s slots being built on HTML5 cross-channel platform, iSENSE 2.0. Examples of other popular slot games in Yggdrasil portfolio include Vikings Go Berzerk, Alchymedes and progressive jackpot slot Joker Millions.

Yggdrasil gaming recently won the title of innovator of the Year at the 2017 International Gaming Awards and Slot Provider of the Year at the 2016 EGR B2B Awards.

 

Are you a startup? Then apply for the SiGMA Startup Pitch 2017 and meet hungry investors. View Startup Pitch 2016 gallery here.

LeoVegas completes its first acquisition in group’s history

LeoVegas today has carried out their first acquisition in the company’s history with the purchase of the Italian gaming operator Winga.it. The Italian operator holds a licence for the Italian market which is currently the largest regulated gaming market in Europe according to data from H2 Gambling Capital. With this addition, it gives LeoVegas and established positioning there.

LeoVegas party held during SiGMA16

LeoVegas party held during SiGMA16

LeoVegas will acquire 100% of the company who in 2016, had a revenue of €8 million. The agreement includes a cash consideration of €6.1 million.

Winga, an organisation comprising of 33 employees, offers their customers a full product offering with 50 percent of their revenue being generated from Live Casino. This includes studio environment and their unique product which is broadcasted live on Italian TV as well as Sky TV. LeoVegas plans to gradually introduce their brand into the Italian market while Winga benefits from their data-driven marketing approach and strengths on the product side and mobile technology around the customer experience.

The purchase price to the seller of Winga which is Paf (Ålands Penningautomatförening) will be paid in two parts and expected to be finalised on 1st March 2017 subject to customary conditions and approval from the Italian authorities.

LeoVegas’ Group CEO Gustaf Hagman commented: “This is yet another milestone in LeoVegas’ development.”

He continued: “The acquisition of Winga.it will enable rapid expansion in Italy, as we are acquiring a company with local knowledge and an established position. LeoVegas’ expansion strategy is to grow in markets that are either regulated or in the process of being regulated. Our focus on mobile gaming and our proprietary, flexible technology platform create the conditions for a successful acquisition.”

LeoVegas has evaluated around a dozen acquisition opportunities during the past year and having a cash position of over €55 million, they are in a position to continue with new strategic acquisitions moving forward.

This acquisition sees LeoVegas holding gaming licences in the UK, Denmark, Ireland, Malta and now Italy.

 

Are you a startup? Then apply for the SiGMA Startup Pitch 2017 and meet hungry investors. View Startup Pitch 2016 gallery here.

Evolution Gaming inks partnership agreement with White Hat Gaming

Stockholm-listed leading B2B provider of Live Casino systems in Europe, Evolution Gaming has revealed that they have signed a partnership agreement with the UK-licenced gaming platform provider White Hat Gaming.
White Hat becomes the latest client to be added to Evolution Gaming portfolio which is available for desktop, tablet and smartphone.

The agreement allows them access to Evolutions full range of mainstream and VIP Live Casino games including roulette, Baccarat, Blackjack and a variety of poker variants. Access to a new progressive jackpot along with exclusive titles will also be a part of the agreement which is expected to go live on White Hat gaming platform in the early part of Q2 this year.

The UK licenced market leading platform provider is a conglomeration of casino content from dominant providers delivering to their customers’ players the best in gaming experience. They currently work with top multiple igaming brands such as The Grand Ivy Casino, Hello Casino, and 21 Casino.

White Hat Gaming’s Chief Marketing Officer Marc Weinberg stated:  “Adding Evolution Live Casino to our content roster is a strategic step as it significantly increases the number of tables and game variants in our Live offering — and across all devices.”

Weinberg continued:  “The deal greatly expands choice for our customers and their players. At the same time, innovative Evolution developments such as Immersive Roulette and Baccarat Control Squeeze are stand-out games that will significantly help our operators acquire and retain players.”

Chief Commercial Officer at Evolution Sebastian Johannisson also commented: “White Hat Gaming has a growing number of operators using its platform as a ‘one-contract’, solution and we are delighted to serve those operators via this channel. Their players can look forward to access to all of our live tables, including exclusive titles such as Ultimate Texas Hold’em, and to other attractions too. I’m sure our upcoming Dream Catcher game, for example, will be a big hit. As a uniquely different online live lucky wheel, it will appeal to operators’ existing slots and bingo players and add further fun and stickiness to White Hat Gaming’s wide-ranging content offering.”

NetEnt obtains Planet of the Apes licence agreement

Leading premium supplier of digitally distributed gaming systems NetEnt, has signed a contract with 20th Century Fox Consumer Products whereby gaining an exclusive licence to the Planet of the Apes film franchise for the purposes of online casino gaming.

The Planet of the Apes brand has over 50 years of legacy with this simian franchise being born from the novel La Planète des Singes written in 1963 by French author Pierre Boulle. It was later adapted into the 1968 film Planet of the Apes, which has launched the Planet of the Apes media franchise. Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011) and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014) have been the two most recent releases and they have both been critical and commercial successes.

The agreement will cover the full Planet of the Apes multi-media brand which will be used for the first time in online casino gaming. The NetEnt Planet of the Apes slot is expected to create quite a stir with the film fans and players with its scheduled released in the second half of 2017.
NetEnt plans to create a game that will feature dazzling graphics and exclusive game mechanics bringing the power and excitement of the game to life.

Chief Product Officer of NetEnt Simon Hammon commented: “Planet of the Apes is one of the largest film franchises in the world never to have been applied to gaming before. With such a rich history, the brand resonates with everyone that has grown up with the films, and it will fit perfectly with NetEnt’s wide and diverse player base. We are thrilled to have signed the franchise, and can’t wait to offer the game to players later in the year.”

Mr Green purchases online gaming company Dansk Underholdning

Malta-based and leading European online gaming company Mr Green plans to launch their online casino in Denmark this year after today purchasing all of the shares of the Danish online gaming company Dansk Underholdning.

Dansk Underholdning the multi-branded bingo and casino operator who holds a Danish casino gaming licence has a very strong base in the Danish gaming market. Seeing that Dansk Underholdning was a cash acquisition, the board of directors of Mr Green plans to propose no dividends to be paid for the 2016 financial year at their Annual General Meeting.

Mr Green's stand at SiGMA 2016

Mr Green’s stand at SiGMA 2016

Mr Green offers casino and sportsbook games with a vision of expansion into new geographic markets. This purchase aligns with their vision and is expected to have a positive effect on their earnings per share and operating cash flow in 2017.

In 2016, Dansk Underholdning generated revenue of approximately EUR 3.9 million. They also reported a year-on-year growth of 27 per cent.
Some of the well-known brands that are housed under Dansk Underholdning include Bingosjov and Bingoslottet och Balletbingo.
Peter Eugen Clausen, CEO and co-founder of Dansk Underholdning is expected to stay on as CEO of the company after the acquisition.

The purchase consideration is calculated using an EBITDA multiple of seven for the annualised earnings during the period May 2016 up to and including March 2017. The acquisition is cash financed with an initial purchase consideration of approximately EUR 9 million in March/April 2017 and an additional purchase consideration of maximum EUR 650,000 may be triggered in April 2018 provided that certain conditions have been met.

Mr Green is expected to be launched along Dansk Underholdning’s existing brands with synergies happening with the introduction of the various products and services Mr Green has to offer in Denmark.

Per Norman, CEO of Mr Green & Co. stated: “Since we are focusing on expanding to locally regulated markets, an acquisition in Denmark has been high on our list. Dansk Underholdning is a successful company that we warmly welcome into the Mr Green family”.

Peter Eugen Clausen, CEO and co-founder of Dansk Underholdning commented: “We are excited to become part of Mr Green, which, in my opinion, is one of the most skilled operators in the industry. The deal is a perfect match as it combines Mr Greens competencies and economies of scale with the Danish presence and local knowledge of Dansk Underholdning. We look forward introducing Mr Green in Denmark.”

The acquisition is conditional on the approval of the Danish Gambling Authority and consolidation is expected to take place in April 2017.

EU Commission delegates online gaming study to Quinel and Avviza

The EU Commission DG for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs commissioned international certification and test lab Quinel along with Avviza, an advisory firm who specialises in the online gaming sector in the second quarter of 2016. These two firms were assigned the duty of carrying out a matrix study on the technical requirements for Online Gambling needed in the EU and EEA member states.

This study is the first ever of its kind to be conducted by any member state or institution. The study gives a detailed and complete dynamic matrix. This allows the EU Commission and Member States a comprehensive view of the technical requirements each Member state stipulates in order to obtain an online gambling licence and to keep such enterprises in favourable standing.

Quinel’s Chairman, Mr Isacco Ceci stated: “This prestigious study was delivered and presented in Brussels last December to the EU Commission and to the national regulatory bodies within the EEA, and it is with great pride and satisfaction that Quinel could share its expertise and experience in the field of technical requirements with the EU Commission and 31 Regulators across the EEA.”

Founder of Avviza Advisory and Quinel’s supporting project partner Reuben Portanier added: “Carrying out a study of such a wide-ranging magnitude in terms of technical requirements mandated across national legislations, regulations, directives and technical guidelines was no easy task, however our joint Quinel/Avviza team worked relentlessly over such a short period of time and managed to produce a dynamic matrix study which is a first of its kind in this sector.”

Avviza is one of the leading European gaming advisory firms while Quinel is one of the leading certification and testing gaming labs internationally, having offices in Italy, Argentina and Malta.

EveryMatrix Signs Casino Content Deal with CEGO

Leading iGaming software provider EveryMatrix has signed a casino content deal with CEGO, an online casino operator that powers some of the biggest brands in Denmark.

Following the agreement, CEGO’s newest brand will get access to premium content from NYX, Scientific Gaming, Evolution, and Magnet Gaming, via EveryMatrix’s CasinoEngine product. All the content will be delivered via Web API on external wallet with EveryMatrix’s bonusing system.

Commenting on the deal, EveryMatrix CEO Ebbe Groes said: “Following the Norsk Tipping deal, this is yet another step forward for EveryMatrix, and we are happy to carry out our privileged position in the Nordic market through our latest partnerships.”

CEGO CMO Esben S. Thomsen also commented: “We are looking forward to cooperating with EveryMatrix. It will open up a large portfolio of new and exciting games, which will benefit our players and strengthen our gaming products even further.”

Groes went on to say: “At this moment, our company is one of the few Danish certified platform providers, and with the new CEGO agreement, we continue to grow our name in the Nordics region.

“Our platform was recently selected by Norsk Tipping state lottery to provide services for their iGaming Integration Platform, and now with Danske Spill owned CEGO we see the recognition of our hard work and focus we invested into building one of the most competitive products on the market.”

CEGO is a highly experienced Danish online casino operator; it works with some of the largest online casino brands in Denmark, such as Spilnu.dk and CasinoDanmark.dk.

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