Legislation News of the Week: Entain’s £585M Allocation amidst HMRC’s Turkey Probe, Malta Halts Green Feather Online Operations

Entain distributes £585 million during HMRC's investigation into Turkey operations. Fresh suspension from Malta focuses on Green Feather Online, while Bulgaria implements novel casino employment limitations for self-excluded persons. In the meantime, the Greek gaming commission actively solicits opinions regarding casino operational enhancements. And Victoria, Australia enacts a prohibition on wagering in youth sports.

Entain allocates £585 million amidst HMRC Turkey inquiry

Amid ongoing investigations by HMRC into its historical operations in Turkey, Entain has taken a distinctive step by reserving £585 million (€677 million). This provision is in direct relation to its intricate negotiations surrounding a deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) with the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).

Back in May, Entain had sounded the warning bell, indicating a looming "significant" fine as a consequence of this case. The company had engaged in a deferred prosecution agreement with the Crown Prosecution Service, marking a significant move in this complex legal landscape.

As the DPA discussions reach a crucial juncture, Entain seems optimistic about a potential resolution in the ongoing HMRC investigation. This optimism has led to the computation of the substantial £585 million settlement sum, a financial commitment that the company envisions disbursing over a span of four years.

The precise sum arrived at hinges on the assumption that Entain's thorough cooperation throughout the investigation, both prior to and following the DPA negotiation, will be acknowledged and given due credit. However, the ultimate validation of any settlement rests with the judicial system. Entain foresees the HMRC pursuing this validation in the fourth quarter of 2023, indicating a critical milestone in this intricate legal saga.

Newest Malta suspension targets Green Feather Online

In the unfolding saga of suspensions, it's now Green Feather Online's turn to face the music, courtesy of the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA). This gaming operator, known for its ventures like Galacticwins.com, Bcasino.com, Mrfortune.com, Boocasino.com, Boocasino.co, and Bcasino.in had been operating in Malta under a B2C Gaming Service Licence. However, that has come to a sudden halt as the MGA wielded its enforcement powers.

The breach falls under the jurisdiction of the country’s Gaming Compliance and Enforcement Regulations, with a focus on financial data submission. The MGA pinpointed infringements of the Gaming Authorisations and Compliance Directive. They dictate the timely submission of management accounts and demand audited financial statements submitted within a set timeframe.

As a repercussion, Green Feather's gaming activities have been put on ice by the MGA's suspension. Gaming operations must cease, but the operator is obliged to retain customer data and settle pending credit to players. There's a glimmer of hope for Green Feather – the possibility to contest the ruling and the subsequent license suspension, should they choose to do so.

Bulgaria's casino employment restrictions for self-excluded individuals

Bulgaria's supervising gambling body, the National Revenue Agency (NRA), has put forth a directive instructing casino operators not to employ individuals who have willingly excluded themselves from money-wagering activities. This measure encompasses forbidding these individuals from accessing casinos or gambling establishments.

In accordance with this update, employers found in breach of this regulation could be subjected to penalties of up to BGN20,000 (€10,200), as specified in Bulgarian gambling legislation. This statement follows investigations into the permissibility of hiring individuals listed in the self-exclusion registry.

The NRA has made it clear that operators must uphold the provisions outlined in the Gambling Act, even if the individual's involvement is work-related rather than that of a player within a gambling venue. Bulgaria's gambling laws explicitly disallow individuals on the self-exclusion list from entering casinos or gaming halls. The legislation also extends this prohibition to individuals in uniforms, who are under 18 years old, and people carrying weapons. Furthermore, those lacking proper identification and individuals under the influence of substances such as drugs or alcohol are also proscribed from entry.

Greek gaming commission seeks input on casino operations

Greece's Hellenic Gaming Commission (EEEP) is conducting a review of casino operations, potentially introducing a self-exclusion registry and other changes. Stakeholders in the Greek gambling market have the opportunity to deliver feedback on the suggested measures before the consultation concludes on September 15. 

The Ministry of National Economy and Finance will implement the measures if approved. The EEEP's focus is on administrative control and casino business operations, with the aim of gathering insights from interested parties. Noteworthy innovations include enhanced player protection and the establishment of a self-exclusion registry managed by the EEEP. 

Players would be able to set their exclusion duration from one week to 10 months, with the removal of the ban requiring a request after the period's conclusion. Other proposals encompass individual player cards linked to online accounts, staff training on gambling regulations, mandatory studio space in casinos, and optimized operational features.

Youth sports betting outlawed in Victoria, Australia

Victoria has slammed the door on minors in sports betting. The Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission (VGCCC) issued a sweeping ban on wagering for athletes under 19. Bets on all-minor games and individual performance of under-18 athletes in senior/junior events are out. 

Even so, team bets in senior sports with minors are still allowed. The VGCCC mandates sports companies and bet providers to cut ties with youth betting markets. This ban goes beyond typical sports authority control, covering all sports. The sporting organizations and betting operators must ensure compliance within 60 days starting from August 3, or else they will be subject to consequences.

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