Blog

Proposed changes to Remote Technical Standards

by Yue-Ting Fung, Paralegal

by Yue-Ting Fung, Paralegal

Capture1
The Gambling Commission has published its response to its Remote Gambling and Software Technical Standards (RTS) Consultation from last October, which outlines for operators, new and upcoming requirements which will be included in the revised RTS, to be published separately at the end of this month. 

Some key areas of changes include:

– Gambling and account history and net deposits
– Display of Commission licensed status
– Restricted display device  
– Live RTP monitoring
– Play-for-fun games   

Whilst the requirements are not unreasonable, larger operators may find the scale of implementation challenging. Please see the table below for the timescale of implementation.

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ASA reverses ruling against Iron Man advert

Four Lego Super Heroes minifigures on gray baseplate

by Melanie Ellis, Senior Associate

by Melanie Ellis, Senior Associate

In a surprising, but welcome, move the Advertising Standards Authority has reversed its ruling from August 2016 against an Iron Man themed advert for Ladbrokes casino. In the August 2016 ruling, the ASA noted that considering the character’s “comic book nature, and the availability of various related toys…it was likely to have particular appeal to children and young people”. At that time, the ASA concluded that, notwithstanding that the advert was only sent by email to customers known to be over 18, if the content of it had particular appeal to children or young persons then a breach of the CAP Code 16.3.12 occurred.

Understandably, this ruling (on the back of similar decisions in the past such as those against Mirror casino’s use of the character Optimus Prime in 2012 and 888’s use of Spiderman in 2008) caused concern amongst gambling operators and game developers alike. A large number of slot games use imagery which could be said to appeal to under 18s from well known comic book characters to cute animals and sweets. Whilst the Iron Man ruling was against an advert sent to customers by email, the ASA’s remit does extend to content on an operator’s own website, leaving the design of games themselves subject to criticism.

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Harris Hagan wins “Best Regulatory Law Firm of the Year”

BJC_GalaDinner-Law Firm Harris Hagan

We are delighted and honoured to announce that Harris Hagan won the Award for the “Best Regulatory Lawyer or Law Firm of the Year” at the GamblingCompliance Global Regulatory Awards last week.

This inaugural Award was for a lawyer or law firm which “provides exceptional legal services and guidance to clients in the gambling industry on compliance matters and is a leader on gambling regulation in their practice.”

The founding partners, Julian Harris and John Hagan, have been advising the gambling industry for more years than they care to remember. They are very proud to have created a team of first class specialist gambling lawyers, who provide an exceptional service to the firm’s clients, anticipate their needs and influence law and policy. Winning this award recognises our lawyers for their endeavours.

In true Oscar fashion, we would also like to extend our warmest thanks to our clients and colleagues in the industry for making this possible. We share this Award with them.

Harris Hagan congratulates the other winners of the GamblingCompliance Global Regulatory Awards.

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The heavy cost of misleading advertising

British pound coins on a background of money.

by Bahar Alaeddini, Partner

by Bahar Alaeddini, Partner

On 2 May, the Gambling Commission published its decision following a review of BGO Entertainment Limited’s (“BGO”) remote operating licence. The licence review related to breaches of licence conditions relating to marketing and advertising and BGO was fined £300,000, the first financial penalty imposed by the Commission for advertising failings. This is a landmark decision, demonstrating the Commission’s further strengthening of its focus on consumer protection.

The concerns about BGO’s advertising related to the failure to include significant limitations and qualifications relating to promotions, meaning that adverts were potentially misleading to consumers. These concerns were first raised by the Commission in July 2015 but BGO failed to take prompt and effective action to address the issues, despite providing assurances that it understood the requirements and had taken action to ensure they were met. The Commission continued to find evidence of advertisements on BGO’s own website and third party affiliate websites that were potentially misleading by failing to include significant limitations and qualifications of promotions.

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Gambling Commission reviews complaints processes

businessman is choosing smile on checklist, customer satisfaction concept

by Yue-Ting Fung, Paralegal

by Yue-Ting Fung, Paralegal

‘..the gambling industry’s longer-term sustainability is hugely reliant on trust – a recognition that customers using products and services are valued, respected and treated fairly. Respect in this context [includes]…how [operators] handle complaints…’

The Gambling Commission (the “Commission”) continues to utilise its powers as the competent authority for approving ADR providers for the British gambling industry, to ensure that existing and future providers continue to meet the requirements of impartiality, fairness and independence. Its review document, Complaints processes in the gambling industry (the “Review”), provides an update on the implementation of the ADR scheme after the European Directive on ADR was transposed last year and also takes the opportunity to look more widely at the industry’s complaints procedures.

Using their powers under the European regulations on ADR (the “Regulations”), the Commission has approved 11 ADR providers for the British gambling industry which meet the requirements of impartiality, fairness and independence. However, the vast majority of operators use just one provider, IBAS, meaning that customers are not being given a choice.

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10 Things You Need to Know About the Irish Gambling Control Bill 2013

In this guest article, Alan Heuston and Sean Dowling of McCann FitzGerald consider the key things operators need to be aware of in relation to the Gambling Control Bill 2013, which sets out the proposed scheme for regulating gambling in Ireland.

10 Things You Need to Know About the Gambling Control Bill 2013

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Money Laundering Regulations 2017 will continue to be restricted to casinos

Money Laundering, Concept

by Melanie Ellis, Senior Associate

by Melanie Ellis, Senior Associate

The Government has published a consultation on the implementation of the 4th EU Money Laundering Directive (the “4MLD”) into UK law, inviting views on its draft Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing and Transfer of Funds (Information on the Payer) Regulations 2017.

The 3rd Money Laundering Directive (implemented into UK law by the Money Laundering Regulations 2007) is restricted to casino operators, but the 4MLD brings all gambling providers within its scope. However, the 4MLD gives Member States the option to exempt certain types of gambling services on the “basis of the proven low risk posed by the nature and, where appropriate, the scale of operations of such services”. The Government has decided to take advantage of this option and has indicated that it intends to exempt all gambling providers, other than casinos, from the requirements of the 4MLD, effectively maintaining the status quo.

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Bonus terms and conditions – flavour of the month

Bonus symbol on red dice with white lettering

by Dhruti Gore, Associate

by Dhruti Gore, Associate

In 2016 the Gambling Commission addressed the issue of operators’ terms and conditions being fair/open and confirmed that this would be one of its main focuses for the year ahead. This is clearly still an area of utmost importance as demonstrated by two key developments.

In October 2016 the Gambling Commission and the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) launched a joint initiative to investigate whether online gambling firms are treating their customers fairly. The CMA has now published an update on its investigation which states that in light of the information it has received, it is asking operators to provide additional information in relation to certain issues around free bet promotions. The CMA has expressed its concern that “players may be placing sports bets, which according to the terms of a promotion qualify them for a free bet, only later to be told they are not eligible for the promotion”.

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Presenting the role of luck when advertising gambling

Woman holidng a four leaf clover

by Melanie Ellis, Senior Associate

by Melanie Ellis, Senior Associate

Various provisions of the CAP and BCAP codes affect how gambling operators can portray the role of luck in gambling. For example, under CAP code 16.3.15 you must not “exploit cultural beliefs or traditions about gambling or luck” for example by referring to the “luck of the Irish”. Under CAP code 16.3.2 you must not “exploit the susceptibilities, aspirations, credulity, inexperience or lack of knowledge of children, young persons or other vulnerable persons” by, for example, incorrectly suggesting that someone can influence their luck in a certain way.

Last week, the ASA ruled on three different television adverts and one Facebook advert for Unibet, which used the phrase “luck is no coincidence” as a strapline. These adverts were challenged, not in relation to the gambling-specific elements of the CAP or BCAP code (such as those referred to above), but on the basis that the use of this phrase was misleading and/or irresponsible.

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Harris Hagan News – 2016 Round Up

Christmas ornament with poker game lement
Season’s Greetings from all at Harris Hagan
We would like to wish all our clients and friends a merry Christmas and a happy new year.  We hope you enjoy this round up of our best articles and blog posts published during 2016. 

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1on1: John Hagan on tackling problem gambling together

John Hagan was interviewed by Totally Gaming in his capacity as Chairman of the Industry Group for Responsible Gambling (IGRG).  You can read the full interview here.

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Trial-and-error: the Hessian toleration regime fails

hofmann-portrait-cards

Guest post by Dr Joerg Hofmann, Senior Partner at Melchers Law, Germany, and Immediate Past President of the International Masters of Gaming Law

In an email circulated this Tuesday, the gambling regulator of the German state of Hesse, the Ministry of the Interior, informed the sports betting industry that the toleration regime “has been suspended for the time being”. Notably, the suspension was announced on the last day of the formal toleration application deadline – the decision therefore clearly marks an emergency stop which followed a court order issued by a local administrative court.

Under German administrative laws, a “formal toleration” is a (revocable) promise of the regulators not to enforce against an entity operating without an official licence. It, however, does not entail the legalising effect of an actual, full licence. It appears that the guidelines and requirements for the toleration procedure, which were published by Hessian regulators in late August this year, were detrimentally influenced by third-party-interests – presumably those of the regulators that form part of the Gambling Committee. This committee consists of the leading regulators of the sixteen German states and so far has not really been supportive of modernising German gambling regulation – quite aptly, certain members of the Gambling Committee have therefore even been referred to as “ayatollahs of gambling regulation” in the German press.

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