February 18, 2014

California preparing online gambling bill

California could be the only state this year to go for legalizing online gambling, according to industry watchers the largest and most populous state in the US with over 38 million residents is gaining support from the powerful Indian tribes to push for online gambling this year.

Indeed there is huge anticipation that when the new session of the legislature opens on the 22nd February a bill proposing legalizing online gambling will be presented.

It is thought that with now seven tribes for online gambling the most influential of them all the Pechanga tribe will draft a bill to allow for online poker in the state.

Some close to the proposed bill say that it will contain a no interstate compact, keeping all the 38 million potential players to themselves. Also rumoured to include a similar rule on “bad actors” such as Nevada has, removing any applicant that has operated in the US post the UIGEA.

Another inclusion will be one online gambling site for each licensee, not multiple sites. On licensing it is believed that a single license will be $5 million one off payment and tax of 5% of GGR.

Clearly California see the value of their size and do not want to give away their value cheaply, there will be many watching next week to see if a bill will be presented for online gambling.

February 10, 2014

New Report says Australians lose the most

A new report by the Economist says that Australians gamble more and lose more than any other country in the World.

According to the report Australians top the list with losses of $1144 per person

“Gambling is just like eucalyptus oil – it’s natural,” said Tim Costello, chairman of the Australian Churches Gambling Taskforce.

The biggest reason for the losses say anti-gambling campaigners are poker machines, which they say Australia has the highest concentration of poker machines in the world.

With the biggest clusters being in disadvantaged areas along the east coast, fuelling domestic violence, crime and mental illness, campaigners claim.

British consultancy firm H2 Gambling Capital said that Australians on average lose about $520 on non-casino based poker machines last year.

The independent senator Nick Xenophon said the figures were an “urgent wake-up call” for politicians.

“Let’s not forget that, with pokies, 40% of losses come from problem gamblers, with five to 10 people affected by each problem gambler,” he said.

Xenophon is renewing his push for maximum $1 bets on poker machines with hourly losses capped at $120, in line with recommendations of the 2010 parliamentary joint select committee on gambling reform.

“State and territory governments in Australia derive an average 10% or more of their taxation revenue from legalised gambling,” he said.

Although Australia had the biggest gambling losses per resident, America had the biggest loss of any nation at $136bn. Australians lost a total $21.5bn, the report said.

Online gambler suing operator that has consequences for whole of EU

A gambler that lost €1,000,000 playing online casino games in Austria is suing the online operator based on the fact that the company operated in conflict to Austrian monopoly laws towards online gambling, hence the player says makes it illegal and wants his losses back.

The case has reached the Austrian Supreme Court (OGH) which asked for a revision of the entire national gambling legislation.

The court that heard the initial case has supported the claim by the player but was overruled by Austria’s Supreme Court which decided in favour of the online operator which claimed that the national gambling law established in Austria was a monopoly against European treaties on the free movement of services.

Because of the complexity of the case and rulings so far given the case has now gone to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) for further evaluations.

The conclusion and decision of the ECJ will have huge consequences should they favour the idea of gambling monopolies being against European rules.

With countries such as Belgium, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Lithuania, Poland, and Romania facing legal actions similar to those of Austria, not only this but should the gambler win his fight for compensation it would see thousands of other online gamblers going to court in those countries with similar laws as Austria.

The decision of the ECJ is crucial and a wake-up call for the EU to get a coherent and regulated law across the states to prevent this exploding into massive court cases.