Slovakia And Brazil Look To Crackdown On Online Gaming Websites

Online gaming continues to see increasing restrictions worldwide as two more countries look to introduce measures that will block access to online gambling sites.

Slovakia has released its first blacklist comprising 10 gaming sites that are slated to be blocked by the country’s administration.

The sites are allegedly serving local residents without requisite licenses.

The list includes several big names including 888 Holdings, William Hill, Bwin, Bet-at-Home and Bet365 as well as lesser known companies like Eatsleepbet.com and LVbet.com.

Slovakia’s finance ministry which published the list said that a warning had been issued to 17 online gaming operators out of which 10 have been included in the blacklist. Two of the operators on the original list chose to exit the Slovakian market voluntarily while five others were given 10 days to shut down local operations.

Several gaming operators have withdrawn from the market in the past few months after the government introduced new regulations which made it illegal to offer online gaming services without a license. Under the new framework, online casino and poker games are being offered only via the TIPOS national lottery which is a part of the state government.

The new law requires those holding licenses for online sports betting to pay a tax of 27 percent on their gross gaming revenue. Companies operating in violation of these laws are subject to a fine of up to €500,000.

The blacklisted sites are yet to be blocked but the ministry said that it is in the process of procuring court orders approving the measure. The administration is also considering implementation of new rules to bar local financial institutions from processing payments
related to gaming.

Brazil is also looking to crackdown on online gambling websites and block the use of any form of electronic payment including credit cards to access gaming services. The country’s effort to modernize its gaming industry has hit a logjam as two competing bills that look to expanding gambling have been stuck in legislative houses.

A new bill has been introduced that is seeking to block access of locals to international gaming sites. Sponsored by Sen. Crio Nogueira, the bill would require the country’s central bank to introduce rules that will result in banks preventing Brazilian punters from using debit and credit cards or other such electronic payment forms to pay for online gaming services on international sites.

The bill has referenced similar practices followed in countries like the United States, Australia and France behind the inspiration for the proposed online gambling ban.

UK Regulator To Crackdown On Misleading Advertising By Online Gaming Operators

UK regulator Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has warned that it will soon be cracking down on online casinos breaking consumer laws through misleading advertising.

The ads in question are generally sign-up ads which promise cash and bonuses despite having long odds. The promotional ads offer attractive benefits like a £10 bonus given when a customer bets an equal amount. However CMA found that these tactics often result in
gamblers being forced to pay hundreds of times before they could withdraw the bonus money.

CMA recently concluded an eight-month probe into the online gaming industry carried out in conjunction with the Gambling Commission. As a part of the probe, regulators examined nearly 800 complaints made by consumers against the online gaming operators. The probe also included a study of numerous websites belonging to these online gaming operators.

In a statement, Nisha Arora, a senior official at CMA’s consumer enforcement unit said,

We know online gambling is always going to be risky, but firms must also play fair. New customers are being enticed by tempting promotions only to find the dice are loaded against them. And players can find a whole host of hurdles in their way when they want to withdraw their money.

The operators are accused of misleading consumers with regards to the terms and conditions of the promotions which are deliberately made confusing and unclear, resulting in consumers getting trapped. The companies further have policies that actively hinder customers from withdrawing their money from their accounts. Some companies have minimal withdrawal amounts that are larger than the initial deposit, while others unfairly put up obstacles to withdrawing the cash.

The Competition and Markets Authority did not name any specific companies but said that it would be taking action against a number of operators identified as a part of its probe. UK regulators are increasing their scrutiny of the country’s online gaming industry which is estimated to be around $ 5.7 billion in a bid to clampdown on practices that take advantage of consumers.

Gambling Commission chief executive Sarah Harrison has hinted that the licenses of online operators found breaking consumer laws would be in danger. She said that while the CMA would pursue legal action based on consumer legislation, the Gambling Commission would be reviewing the conditions of the license for those accused of breaching gaming laws.

Analysts expect that the regulator would levy significant fines on operators found guilty and the fines would increase for repeat offenders.