Interview with Quirino Mancini, Partner, SCM Partners

January 22, 2009 2009

Call for operators to go for ‘realistic and swift action’ in Italy’s Legal Gaming Special

Considering the situation in the US right now, it is being pointed out there is more gambling online than there used to be before a ban was introduced.

As a result, governments in such instances completely lose control of their tax revenues, while consumers bet into markets where there are no regulations. Meanwhile, the regulated operators or companies, which want to pay tax and work with government, do no business.

As an expert in this arena, Quirino Mancini, Partner, SCM Partners, feels this analysis is indeed quite accurate for most international jurisdictions.

“But (it) does not appear to fit well with the Italian market, in which authorities have consistently implemented over the last three years a legal & regulatory policy aimed at discouraging (via the infamous blacklist restrictions) local residents from gambling on foreign-based unlicensed sites while simultaneously enticing foreign operators to seek a local licence by opening up the domestic market through the awarding of a large batch of new licences and a controlled yet progressive gaming liberalisation,” said Mancini, who is scheduled to speak during Bulletbusiness’ 3rd Legal Gaming in Europe Summit 2009, to be held in London on 26-27 January.

On recent developments in Italy, Mancini said the new online gaming regulations have not yet been published although they have been in the Italian regulator’s pipeline for several months now.

“(As per the grapevine) they (new regulations) should be actually out by later this month and if that should happen undoubtedly this will be the first and foremost striking news of the New Year.”

“Meanwhile the recent (September 2008) launch of the first real-money online poker tournaments received a prompt and enthusiastic response from the domestic market so it can be easily predicted that the Italian poker-mania will receive a further boost when a very top operator like PokerStars goes live in Italy later this year.  More generally, the 2008 turnover figures and the 2009 forecasts seem to confirm, at least in Italy, the very anti-cyclic nature of the gaming business economics-wise.  So the deeper the recession, all the better for those anyhow engaged in the provision of offline/online gaming services in the Peninsula,” shared Mancini.

From operators’ perspective, who have been asking for a level playing field but in vain, Mancini said for those gaming operators who may want to exploit “the still quite good business opportunities” offered by the Italian market (and/or any other key European market not yet saturated) “this is not the time for hope but rather for realistic and swift action”.

“This means that they should not expect the Brussels authorities to come up any time soon with a hat trick solution harmonising both licensing rules and tax rates EU-wide, but instead identify those markets across Europe where they should enhance or strengthen their operations and then act in accordance with to the local licencing regimes,” said Mancini.

Overall, Mancini still feels that there are too many regulatory hurdles and tax gaps do exist across Europe so as to be effectively addressed and rapidly bridged at EC commission level.

“In this regard I note that despite various rulings that the ECJ consistently handed down in recent years under the theory of articles 43 and 49 of the Rome Treaty, the local gaming monopolies – not just the Italian one I might add – continue to enjoy prosperity and good shape and still rule their respective markets.  This hard fact suggests that “the Italian job” – a blend of driven and progressive market liberalisation yet always coupled with the requirement of a local licence – stands good chances of becoming a fairly flexible, and certainly improvable, regulatory model that other regulators could replicate elsewhere in Europe in the years to come,” added Mancini.

Recently, a draft EU document indicated that there are “grounds for a common approach to regulating the European Union’s multi-billion-euro gambling sector”.

It found there were “already grounds for seeking a common approach” and cooperation among national gaming regulators appears to be a necessary first step to combating money laundering, fraud and corruption.

But for his part, Mancini said, “At the risk of sounding redundant, I find the above statement to be little more than wishful thinking at this time yet would be very glad to be proven wrong by the Brussels authorities.”

Role of Bullet Business and partnership going forward

Assessing the partnership between Bullet Business and portal from gaming law specialists, Mancini said, “Me and the other founders and partners of strongly find that the main and most important job mission of our pan-European groupment is to provide the gaming industry not just with accurate and up-to-date legal advice but also to share key information, disseminate comments and suggestions, stimulate debates, quickly spread news and if at all possible, effectively reach out to the regulatory movers and shakers in the interest of the stakeholders.”

“Such an ambitious and far-reaching goal can only be achieved by teaming up with a few suitable media partners at international level and definitely Bullet Business has all right credentials in this regard,” said Mancini.

3rd Legal Gaming in Europe Summit 2009

Bulletbusiness’ 3rd Legal Gaming in Europe Summit 2009 is scheduled to take place in London on 26-27 January.

For more information visit:



Ben Satchwell at +442073757163 or email

eCOGRA extends its services

January 22, 2009 2009
eCommerce and Online Gaming Regulation and Assurance (eCOGRA) has extended its independent testing, standards and monitoring services to cover Internet bingo, sportsbetting and live gambling operations.
With this move, eCOGRA has positioned its “influential Safe and Fair certification seal within reach of most online gambling operators”.

CEO Andrew Beveridge said, “We have now introduced our new eGAP Minimum Requirements covering all operational aspects for online bingo and sportsbetting operations. This enables operators in these sectors to come forward for assessment and testing with a view to achieving the Safe and Fair eCOGRA seal, already held by some 126 tier one online casinos and poker rooms.”

The player protection and standards organisation now covers all major sectors in the online gambling industry, from online casinos and poker sites, through affiliate activities to mobile gambling, sportsbooks, live gambling studios and the burgeoning bingo business.

According to Beveridge, eCOGRA currently has a significant number of sportsbetting and bingo operations under review.

“This extension of our inspection, advisory and monitoring services means eCOGRA now covers all the main products currently being offered by online gambling operators. We complement this work through oversight of areas such as live gambling studios and mobile platforms, and by providing monthly payout percentage and randomness reports based on the live gambling data from every transaction,” said Beveridge.

Once a company has been accredited it is subject to continuous monitoring and annual reviews, and must comply with eCOGRA requirements regarding the quick and efficient handling of player complaints through the organisation’s Fair Gaming Advocate.

Interview with Santiago Asensi, Partner, Asensi Abogados

January 22, 2009 2009

Time to tackle ‘crime scenarios’ in online gambling’s Legal Gaming Special

Few months ago, it was being pointed out that Spain was in midst of discussions about how to regulate the online gambling sector at a national level and in accordance with the EU law and principles.

Assessing the situation as of today, Santiago Asensi, Partner, Asensi Abogados, says in accordance with the Law 56/07 on measures to develop the Information Society, Spain is preparing a new gaming law, which would be totally focused on the online market.

“The Sectorial Gaming Commission, the body that groups all the Spanish authorities in charge of the gaming regulations, will meet in the first quarter of 2009 to review the first draft of the Bill. This draft is being prepared by LAE (The State Lotteries Monopoly) and shortly will be circulated between the different administrations,” said Asensi, who is scheduled to speak during Bulletbusiness’ 3rd Legal Gaming in Europe Summit 2009, to be held in London on 26-27 January.

Asensi also spoke about some of the key issues related to Spain. Excerpts:

On governments losing out on tax revenues and players being unprotected: The fact that the governments have not showed interest in regulating this market but rather putting barriers in order to protect their monopolies has damaged the three principal agents of this business:

i) Consumers that in many occasions have not found the due protection brought by consumers associations and courts where to find their rights covered;

ii) Licenced operators missing out on opportunities to launch their products in many markets; and

iii) Governments loosing the opportunity to obtain income from this industry.

I would say that the governments have damaged the whole gaming sector by restricting and putting barriers to online gaming. To restrict the market to their own monopolies under the argument of consumer protection is a poor and a vague excuse that nobody who is in this industry can believe in.

On how can operators benefit in the time to come: I like to be an optimist and I do believe that this is just a question of time. Most of the sectors of the gaming industry keep growing wealthy even in times of crisis. If we take a look at the legal situation in the past and we compare it with the current one, there should be no doubt that there have been many achievements.

Unfortunately, this is not applicable to all jurisdictions yet but the balance must be considered as positive.

On key to opening up markets being as much about taxation as regulation: My view is that sooner than later this scenario will change or, it would be better to say that it will keep changing. It’s changing in countries like France or Spain and this will also happen with the rest of the countries of the EU.

Furthermore, European jurisdictions should learn from the UK regulation, white-listing those jurisdictions that reach the proper levels of technical standards.

On cooperation among national gaming regulators: Let me be ironic: it’s great to know that our politicians are about to reach the conclusion that this would be the best way to combat all type of crimes that can be related to this industry. If you want to prevent thefts in a dark street, the best measure to take will be always to set up lights in that street instead of increasing the penalty for theft. And this simple example is absolutely applicable to prevent crime scenarios in the online industry.

Role of Bullet Business and partnership going forward: I believe this is a great opportunity for both parties in order to establish a strong collaboration, which will benefit clients of both entities and the end users of This partnership has been built on the basis of many years of experience and the knowledge of the industry. The result must be always good.

We have put our best efforts looking forward that this idea works and I do not find a single reason why it shouldn’t.

Ritesh Gupta

3rd Legal Gaming in Europe Summit 2009

Bulletbusiness’ 3rd Legal Gaming in Europe Summit 2009 is scheduled to take place in London on 26-27 January.

For more information visit:



Ben Satchwell at +44207 375 7163 or email

Czech firms win permission for online gambling

January 12, 2009 2009

It is being reported that the Czech Republic government has allowed a select few domestic online gambling operators to commence operations within the country.

According to local media, the Ministry of Finance recently granted licences to operate Internet gambling to five domestic companies, Sazka, Fortuna, Chance, Synot Tip and Tipsport. It is being said that all five operators were required to have a network of land-based outlets where customers need to register. The companies will be subject to regulation under the Gaming Act and will pay administrative fees, state supervision fees and part of their proceeds will be used for good causes. The server where the betting takes place must be located in the Czech Republic, with the software used to be subject to certification. The operators are also obliged to allow state access to the system.

“We are sad and bitter that foreign Internet betting companies are allowed to operate in the Czech Republic without any control. There is no legal restriction. So basically they operate in this country illegally. So we want to have the same opportunities as foreign companies,” a spokesperson from Fortuna told

“If someone wants to bet through Fortuna on Internet, they must register in a bricks and mortar office and show their ID. Only then they are allowed to play. We don’t accept credit cards but only regular payment cards because we don’t support gambling and gamblers and we don’t want people to become addicted to internet betting. That’s something foreign companies don’t do.”

Ladbrokes’ online casino ad campaign fails to get clearance

January 12, 2009 2009

Ladbrokes breached advertising standards in television commercials for its online casino as the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) felt that the adverts

The complaints were levelled against two ads. The first commercial showed a diver who attached raw bacon and sausages to his wet suit and leapt into shark-infested water dressed in a seal costume. A character at the end of the clip said: “All we could bury was his flipper.”

The second advertisement showed a sky diver jumping out of a plane using an empty crisp packet as a parachute.

Both clips finished with: “If only he’d seen it would have quenched his thrill buds.”

The complainant said the ads: portrayed gambling in a context of toughness or linked it to risk taking and reckless behaviour; portrayed, condoned or encouraged people to gamble in a way that was socially irresponsible and could lead to financial harm; exploited the susceptibilities and aspirations of vulnerable people.

The ASA banned the ads on the first ground.

While the ASA noted the ads were humorous and showed the protagonists engaging in ridiculous and extreme behaviour; it considered that the activities shown in the ads would be unlikely to be seen as realistic or aspirational by viewers.

“We further noted Ladbroke and M&C Saatchi’s argument that the ads were cautionary tales and encouraged caution and moderation, not risk taking and reckless behaviour. We nevertheless considered that the overall context of the ads, including the claim If only had seen it would have quenched his thrill buds, portrayed gambling in a context of toughness, and linked it to excessive risk taking and reckless behaviour. Although we acknowledged that the scenarios shown in the ads were intended to be cautionary tales, we concluded that they breached the Code by portraying gambling in a context of toughness and linking it to recklessness,” stated the ASA.

Ladbrokes said in a statement the advertisements were light-hearted and humorous, and it would appeal against the decision.

Tim Duffy, UK chief executive of M&C Saatchi, said if the appeal were unsuccessful, the ruling could present serious challenges for creating gambling campaigns.

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