Yet another online gambling regulation focused conference has just finished, this time in Malta, home to many igaming professionals and home to a nightlife that just easily took three years off my life.
The 7th Annual World Gambling Briefing attracted over 150 regulators, lawyers and operators from around the globe who turned up at the gorgeous Hilton hotel which felt more like a resort than a conference venue. This year Clarion introduced a series of ten minute “briefings”, mini-sessions focusing on the regulatory updates in different geographical regions around the globe, a new concept for the 2011 WBG.
The general consensus from delegates was that the event’s sessions were excellent for those who are newer to the industry but that they did not cover any new territory for industry vets. As always, the networking opportunities proved to be the valuable for everyone and the decision to hold the event in Malta and the conference venue were both excellent choices by the organizers.
The topic of online gambling regulation around the globe, especially across the EU and within the US, are huge at the moment and the WGB’s timing could not have been better. During the first day of the conference two pieces of breaking news were revealed, the first being that Spain’s congress passed the regulation bill meaning it will now go to the senate. Spanish lawyer Santiago Asensi confirmed that this is a big step forward for Spain and that he is now even more confident that the first Spanish licenses will be granted in early 2012.
The second piece of news was that Germany will only be granting seven licenses and that the tax requirements will be even higher than those of France. German lawyer Wulf Hambach told CalvinAyre.com that “not only are the taxes high, they are a disaster!” and delegates were quick to jump to the conclusion that this move by Germany is clearly an effort to preserve the monopolies.
One of the most popular panels was the Regulation at the EU level discussion that included Jean Bergevin of the European Commission, Italian lawyer Quirino Mancini and a representative from Belgium. Quirino summarized it all when he said that in an ideal world there would be one regulatory scheme that applies to all 27 EU member states, but in reality, this a very complex project that is almost impossible to accomplish. Bergevin assured delegates that if the EU needs to step in that they will, but a lot will depend on what type of feedback the EU receives from the online gambling industry between now and July 31st, the consultation period for the EU Green Papers. All panelist seemed to agree that even if a harmonized regulatory scheme for the EU is not possible that “conditional agreements” between the EU member states’ regulatory bodies could be the way forward.
Another interesting observation of note was that Jan Jones-Blackhurst of Caesars Entertainment was a no-show for the panel that featured herself and Bill Pascrell of New Jersey, apparently something that has happened several times and something the Pascrell was not afraid to point out. Hey, I’m just sayin’. It will be interesting to see what happens at GIGSE next month, a North American focused online gambling conference that is already busting with registrations and will attract even more now that feds are shutting down the biggest online poker sites in the US!!!