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Ukrainian Gaming Congress: summary and conclusions

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On September 29, Kyiv hosted the first industrial event in Ukraine devoted to gambling since the full ban of such activity – Ukrainian Gaming Congress!

Smile-Expo, event organizer, used a single floor and gathered business representatives, industrial experts, as well as state authorities, who can directly influence on legalization of gambling in Ukraine.

Experts and businessman from Ukraine and foreign countries shared their vision of how the country shall legalize gambling, which is an inevitable process, as everyone agreed.

Invited members of Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, namely Viktor Romanyuk and Gennadiy Krivosheya presented their draft bill on the state regulation of gambling in Ukraine. This was just one of the 18 drafts being developed by the lawmakers and the Ministry of Finance.

According to Viktor Romanyuk, the project has been designed taking into account experience of Belarus, where gambling is legalized and generates an income to budget. The author of the bill underlines its main goal, which is to help gambling get rid of a criminal status and create clear and transparent rules for the market.

Although the project is aimed at bringing out the business out of the shadow, it has drawn  a lot of criticism from business representatives. In particular, one of the controversial issues was the norm requiring the casinos and gaming halls to be installed only in 4 and 5-star hotels. Draft bill authors explain it with their desire to protect the vulnerable segments of the population from easy access to gaming machines.

“As of today, we’re not ready to casinos ‘across the street’,” said the bill coauthor Gennadiy Krivosheya.

He also expressed a desire for cooperation with business representatives in order to revise the bill text. “If the law will be adopted at the first reading, we’d have to establish a roundtable and some specific rules,” claimed the MP.

The next discussion of questions related to gambling legalization will take place on the October 13, at the meeting with Ministry of Finance and PM’s representatives. This was the key message from Gennadiy Krivosheya during his presentation.

Talking about the possibilities of gambling business regulation in Ukraine, Association of Gambling Business Director Tamara Golubchik offered to forget the idea of limitation of locations for gambling venues. She was one of the opponents of placement casinos in 4 and 5-star hotels exclusively. This point has been one of the most controversial for business representatives, so MP Gennadiy Krivosheya confirmed the possibility to withdraw this norm form the draft bill.

Council of Head of Ministry of Economic Development and Trade of Ukraine Alexey Evchenko commented on the immaturity of the draft bill. In his opinion, the rule of limiting gambling venues to high-class hotels will be hard to implement. “Out of 4,5 thousand accommodation objects in Ukraine, only 272 are categorized officially,” informed the Minister’s Council, “Only 28 of them have a status of 5 star hotels, whereas 45 – 4 stars. Thus, a new problem appears – the lack of clear criteria for star attribution.

Specialist thinks that hotel evaluation norms are also in the development stage, and it would not come into effect for at least six more months.

However, Minister’s Council wasn’t completely pessimistic. According to him, legalization of gambling business is inevitable. “Under the pressure from IMF, we’ll have to confirm a new taxation, and that would become a good reason to return some taxes from the shadow.”

Bill authors’ desire to protect population with little income from gambling addiction has been criticized by Djaba Ebanoidze, International reforms center expert (Georgia).

He shared the Georgian reformatory experience with guests of the first Ukrainian Gaming Congress and advised Ukrainian lawmakers to leave behind all strict measures and remove as many restrictions from business and consumers, as they can. “If the teacher wants to enter the casino and lose his small salary – let him do that,” thinks Mr. Ebanoidze. More important is the fact that players shall be prohibited from playing on credit. Expert is sure that the key factor of gambling is transparent rules of business operation and the right taxation system.

Since 2011, when Georgia established a gambling reform, the country became attractive for investors and tourists, and managed to increase its state budget significantly. All paperflow has been transferred to electronic form completely, the term of authorization document has been increased from one to five years, and the license can be acquired in an abbreviated procedure.

Mr. Ebanoidze believes that the country has changed an approach to gambling business. Casinos, gaming machine halls and betting shops that have previously had semi-criminal status don’t scare the population nowadays. Owners of this business are not perceived as criminals anymore.

Success of Georgian reforms has been recognized far beyond the country’s border. Michael Nuttal, СЕО Global Retail Consultancy has been invited to Kyiv by Smile-Expo and called Georgia a perfect example of investment and income growth.”

He thinks that Ukraine shall take a Georgian example in this segment, not forgetting about tourism and new jobs complying with gambling.

Preparing of proper regulatory framework is one of the key factors for existence of gambling business in Ukraine. The segment has to legally differentiate betting, casino, and lotteries, said All-Ukrainian Union on Bookmaking Development General Director Irina Sergienko. She believes that each kind of gambling has to be regulated taking into account its specific details.

Expert also thinks that we need to reach a compromise in the matter of how much to charge for the licenses and build up a system in such a way that investors could easily enter the market and create competition for already existing operators.

In the future, Irina Sergienko sees the integration of the unified real-time centralized bet and payout administration system for lotteries and casinos.

She said that Ministry of Finance considers three options for gambling business taxation.

Option 1

– license payment – 75m UAH (monthly);

– income tax – 18%;

– PIT – 15% (annually).

Option 2

– license payment – 20m UAH;

– income tax – 18%;

– PIT – 15% (annually).

Option 3

– license payment – 20m UAH;

– income tax – 18%.

Should winning be imposed with PIT? Irina Sergienko believes that business and authorities still can not reach a consensus.

The situation with state operators is still a matter of discussions related to gambling, thinks expert. In particular, whether they should have advantages over the private operators and what is the edge between market control and overregulation.

In particular, expert evaluates that legalization of gambling will add to Ukrainian budget at least 600m UAH annually and create 5000 jobs. Bringing business out of the shadow will resurrect Ukrainian race tracks and promote the development of horse breeding and hotel industry. The experience of other countries shows that the state can generate millions on this.

Baker Tilly corporate services partner Dmitriy Dragun named even more optimistic data. He predicts that segment legalization will create 10,000 jobs in Ukraine, and state budget will gain 2-5bn UAH from the income tax and 1-2bn UAH from the associate taxes (VAT, PIT).

Gambling legalization is slowed down by the lawmakers’ populism: “We want to get 5bn more to the budget, right? Let’s increase excise duties for alcohol.”

Expert is sure that gambling in Ukraine is alive despite of the illegal status. And instead of banning the business completely, state shall strictly regulate the problem segment, i.e. gaming machines, the amount of which shall be limited.

Gambling market exists irrelevant of its legal status, said Chairman of Kyiv Union of Gambling Venues and Casinos Yuriy Kozhema. He thinks that before the official ban in 2009, 70 per cent of the market has been staying in the shadow. And the Law “On Prohibition of Gambling Business in Ukraine” forced other 30 per cent to start illegal operations or close at all.

Such experience contradicts the cases of advanced countries, confirmed Pari-Match betting company Director of Communications Vadim Misyura. He stated the example of Germany, where 6 per cent of VAT accounts for gambling, which exists almost without any prohibition.

European experts also support legalization of gambling in Ukraine. Moreover, regulation of such market is one of the conditions of the Association Agreement between the EU and Ukraine. This has been pointed out by Federbet Secretary General Francesco Baranka (Federbet is an association which is aimed at the support of betting rights and lowering the illegal impact on the sporting events results), who had experience of addressing the European Parliament.

To sum it up, all experts and business representatives completely agreed that gambling business in Ukraine shall become legal and operate in clear and transparent field. Despite of the unclear future of drafts aimed at legalization of the segment, many Ukrainian Gaming Congress participants hope to see constructive suggestion from the authorities. Expectations heat up with the future Tax Code, which will be applied in accordance with the IMF requirements. The government will definitely look for new revenue sources to avoid budget deficit, claim the experts and industry representatives. Unofficial reports say that revenue from gambling has already been included into the 2016 budget. This leaves us hope that such high-profitable segment will repeat the successful history of Georgia and Belarus, where gambling is alive and thriving.

Ukrainian Gaming Congress has become the first event of such kind in our country. Yana Pastushko, Exhibition Projects Director at Smile-Expo company, which established the floor for dialogue between business and authorities, has mentioned that organizer company will continue to promote the legalization of gambling in Ukraine in the future.

Smile-Expo team is willing to help industry representatives in establishing of contacts with each other, as well as with the authorities. “We hope that in 2016, when Gaming Congress will take place in Kyiv for the second time, gambling business will already be legalized,” said Yana Pastushko in her closing speech.

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Conferences

The 8th edition of the Romanian Conference on Gambling

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On the 6th of March 2018, the Parliament Palace in Bucharest hosts the 8th edition of the Romanian Gambling Conference – CRG8, the biggest annual event of the gambling industry in Central and Eastern Europe.

The eighth edition of the CRG, a regional conference of gambling, will be held under the slogan “Ready for the Gambling of Tomorrow.

As in the previous editions, this years event aims to approach all elements of the gambling industry based on the novelties of the legislation and the enforcement rules, both in Romania and other European countries, as well as the vulnerabilities of the current system, passing through the slot rooms and AWPs, but also casino life or online gambling. Special sections will be provided for human resources, marketing, image, social responsibility and responsible gambling.

Among those who will speak, we find representative names in the gaming world both in Romania and abroad. Representatives of the Romanian authorities, as well as from other European Union countries, are on the guest list.

Those present at the event will be able to ask questions to clarify all the unclear aspects in the special questions and answers (Q&A) sections.

The organizer, as in all previous editions, is the most popular magazine of the Romanian gambling industry, Casino Life & Business Magazine, the double winner of the “Best iGaming Magazine of the Region” Award at the CEEG Awards Budapest, Hungary in 2016 and 2017.

As in the previous editions, during the conference, the organizers wish to host a mini-exhibition in the lobby, so that participants can see on the spot the novelties, as well as other projects of interest.

The event, of both local and international importance, will be hosted by the famous marble halls of the Parliament Palace in Bucharest, the second largest building in the world after the Pentagon, on March 6th, 2018.

The Draft of the Program has four plenary sessions as follows:

– Partners Presentation
– CSR & Responsible Gambling
– Europe up-to-date
– Romanian Actuality

The Program has also coffee breaks and a working lunch.

Permanent partners of the events organised by Casino Life & Business Magazine are DGL PRO, GRISOGONO jewelry and ROMBET.
Gold Partner of the conference is NOVOMATIC Romania.

Media partner of the event are the portal www.forrichonly.ro, BURSA news-paper and the very well-known iGaming Business Magazine, part of Clarion group.

Those interested can download the Registration Form from here: Registration Form conf march 2018

For details, registration and other information send your inquiries to redactie@casino-magazine.ro

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The gambling industry in France, un problème historique

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The link between France and gambling always has been strong and could even be described as historic.

The country largely contributed to the development of gambling through time with the creation of inescapable games such as roulette (by the mathematician Blaise Pascal) and the 52 card game which gave birth to Baccarat or Shimmy (also known as Chernay).

As a consequence, it feels natural for gambling to be legal in France. But to settle on this territory, you must have a license from by several organisations:
• for betting activities: Pari Mutuel Hippodrome (PMH) and Pari Mutuel Urbain(PMU);
• for bingo lotteries and sports betting, only the Française des Jeux (FDJ) keeps the monopoly on land base activities.

Some conditions must however be respected if you want to offer gambling activities in France. For example, physical casinos can only be established in seaside and tourist towns (except Paris) and on some cruise ships with the French flag.

Since 2010, online gambling is regulated by the Autorité de Régulation des Jeux en Ligne (ARJEL), which can authorise licenses for club games (until now, only the poker is allowed), sports betting and horse races. Online casino games are forbidden in France.

Fifteen licenses have been issued by the ARJEL so far. This particularly low number of licenses can be explained by high tax rates which can frighten some operators.

However, the market is doing well as the third quarter of 2017 results show: an increase by 23% of the revenues linked to sports betting despite a year without international competition, a 10% growth of horse racing revenues and +5% for poker.

France is a market which needs to be followed especially as online casinos should be authorised very soon. The 2018 Football World Cup, with a French team considered as favorite for this new edition, should also contribute to the sector’s success thanks to high sports betting revenues.

On October 16, 2018, the inaugural European Gaming Congress in Ljubljana is set to host a panel where the state of France will be discussed directly with the regulator. To find out more details about the event make sure you follow our news.

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We are sponsoring the prizes at ASEAN Gaming Summit Poker Freeroll

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We are excited to announce our first event sponsorship and we would like to thank our friends at All-In Translations for the opportunity and initiative. As a strategic partner of Asia Gaming Brief (organizers of ASEAN Gaming Summit), the honor is even higher. (see EEGMedia/EEGEvents engages in strategic partnership with Asia Gaming Brief)

It was great to see that All-in Translations will once again host the official poker tournament of the ASEAN Gaming Summit in March and we want to make it even more interesting for the players by giving some prizes on behalf of our company.

The tournament is a freeroll for delegates attending the conference and we will be sponsoring the prize pool with no less than three packages of great value.

Prize 1 (worth $1600): 1 Seasonal ticket for a company representative which includes access to 5 EEGEvents in 2018.

The ticket includes access to the conference/seminar, complimentary lunch and access to all networking sessions.

More details about the events can be found on the official landing page of the events division: www.eegevents.org


Prize 2 (worth $550): Tickets for 2 EEGEvents in 2018 for a company representative. 

The winner can choose from the above list of events.


Prize 3 (worth $900): Featured radio spot for 3 months and interview on iGaming Radio

The player who wins this gets the opportunity to present the company with a radio spot which will be streamed during peak hours on iGamingRadio.comThe radio spot can be created by the representative’s team or by the team at the first online radio dedicated exclusively for the b2b sector of the online gambling industry. A selected representative will also get the chance to take part in the Innovation Talks monthly show and discuss the latest innovation in the industry.

As you may already iGaming Radio is the first online radio streaming gaming related news exclusively through daily shows, interviews and press releases. The aim of the station is to keep its audience connected 24/7 with the online gaming industry by playing awesome music and serving the news first hand.

You can tune in on www.igamingradio.com


About ASEAN Gaming Summit

TECH TRENDS, CONVERGENCE, STRATEGY, RETURN ON INVESTMENT
20-22 MARCH, 2018, CONRAD MANILA, PHILIPPINES

The ASEAN Gaming Summit draws together the region’s leading operators, regulators and suppliers, who are successfully developing the next generation of gaming offerings, both terrestrial and online.

From new-style integrated resorts, addressing the premium mass market, to sports betting innovations and online gaming, this event is for anyone with an interest in this dynamic region.

Mark your calendars for 20 -22 March, 2018.

For any questions about the 2018 conference, send an email to events@agbrief.com or visit the official website www.aseangaming.com

 

About All-In Translations

All In Translations is the only Language Service provider offering such a large variety of languages (70+) combined with a true enthusiasm for iGaming, hence their slogan “We speak your iGaming language”.

They are now a market-leading provider of language services to the iGaming industry. Their high-quality standards and service level are ISO certified and trusted by several of the biggest platform providers, developers, operators and affiliate marketers. The team helps companies like Playtech, William Hill, Betfair, Microgaming, Interblock, Betsson and many more to boost their online presence and grow their brands internationally.

The subject of iGaming has been their bailiwick since the company started up in Malta in 2008, meaning that all their linguists and project managers have both a strong knowledge of and a genuine passion for casino games, poker, sports betting, lotto, bingo, trotting, backgammon, roulette and more.

Visit their official website for more details: www.allintranslations.com

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