Laws and regulations that rule the online poker world had many changes during 2018, meaning that 2019 will be a year marked by a growing market (like Sweden, Switzerland, India, Israel) and the online poker rooms will intensify their efforts in order to conquer new users. Let's review the latest legal news related to online poker:
Sweden gambling regulator granted licenses to partypoker, Betsson and The Stars Group
The Sweden gambling regulator, which recently decided to change its name from "Lotteriinspektionen" to "Spelinspektionen" from January 2019, has issued about 20 licenses to online gambling operators, including the biggest brands on the market as partypoker, Betsson Group, Bet365, Svenska Spel (the current gambling monopoly), and more recently The Stars Group. This wave of licensing is due to the new liberalized gambling regime that was approved by the Sweden authorities for 2019, that will allow to international poker rooms to legally offer their services.
The new regulation covers casino games, online poker, and sports betting; all brands are looking to offer a complete portfolio within the country, for example, The Stars Group already registered the domains PokerStas.SE, PokerStarsCasino.SE, and BetStars.SE.
Switzerland's Money Gaming Act comes into force from January 2019
Starting on January 1, 2019, the brick-and-mortar casinos (and only these) operating in Switzerland will have the chance to offer online gambling, including of course poker, as stated the new Money Gaming Act, approved in 2017 and voted in 2018. This will create a very different scenario comparing for example to Sweden which decided to open its market to international gambling companies, creating new taxes and reinforcing the authorities. As usual, The Stars Group already announced an alliance with a local casino (which name has not been revealed) and Playtech confirmed its partnership with Swiss Casinos.
The new Switzerland regulation includes a "Bad actor" clause which may cause issues with the companies that have offered gambling services to Swiss citizens without a license, which includes PokerStars and iPoker.
Possible banning on gambling advertising in the UK
The UK could be considered as a heaven for the gambling community, lots of poker expats live there (mainly from Spain where the regulation and high taxes forced professional poker players to emigrate there), but even in the UK, gambling is struggling with the regulations. According to the Remote Gambling Association (RGA), almost 100 minutes of gambling-related ads were shown during the last FIFA World Cup, alerting the authorities because this year they reported more than 400,000 British citizens suffering from gambling-related problems.
The RGA members, Bet365, Ladbrokes, Paddy Power among others agreed to stop the advertisement during live events on television. This happens at the same time that the gambling company's shares like 888 are falling more than 5% on the London Stock Exchange
MPN expands to Bulgaria
Besides launching a new software strongly focused on recreational players, the MPN network is also looking to cover empty spaces on regulated markets. This week Microgaming (Redstar, Redkings) confirmed its partnership with National Lottery AD, a top-gambling company operating in Bulgaria, to offer legal online poker to Bulgarian citizens, with the company 7777.bg. The MPN CEO, Andrew Clucas, referred to the new alliance in a press release:
"This marks a significant step in growing the poker network and reflects our commitment to continued growth and expansion into regulated markets. We are delighted to work with National Lottery AD as their exclusive supplier of poker in Bulgaria."
On the one hand, Sweden will become an example of how a gambling regulation should be implemented: allowing international companies to offer their services, paying a tax which will represent more incomes to the country.
On the other hand, Switzerland is taking the unsuccessful path that many other countries have followed, creating a closed market which only strengthens the offshore offer, leaving the country without the additional resources that legal gambling represents.
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