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Online Gambling News From Belgium, Spain and Italy

By: Adam Baker, Thursday February 14th 2013
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The news from Belgium is not good for the online gambling industry. The Belgian government had prepared a list of operators functioning in the country without a license. It had asked the ISPs to block the web sites of these operators. One of these, Bet-at-Home, had challenged this action in the court. According to the legal firm Altius, the Court of First Instance in Brussels has delivered a judgment in favor of the state. It has upheld the Belgian State’s right to blacklist unlicensed online gaming operators and order ISPs to block their web sites. The court agreed that free speech and free commerce were fundamental rights, but these could not be invoked by an illegal online gambling operator. The court added that rights cannot be invoked to perpetuate an illegal activity.

Fortunately the other news is much better. The Spanish gambling authority, DGOJ, has initiated a consultation process to examine the possibility of introducing new types of online gambling products such as slots and cross-betting. The DGOJ has asked interested parties to submit information on a variety of issues. The most important is the significance of the new game categories in the context of the overall goals of preventing underage gambling, problem gambling, money laundering, identity and card theft and promoting fair and honest gaming. The parties will have to submit the costs of regulating these games and the benefits that will accrue to the society based on such regulation. Examples and empirical evidence of best international practices will also have to be provided. The deadline for submissions is early March 2013. The DGOJ has indicated that it will need 45 days to study the information and then would take a call on each game category suggested.

The Italian online gambling market was the first to be regulated in mainland Europe and is thriving. The US online and land gambling supplier IGT has announced a partnership with online gambling software provider iSoftBet to provide content to the Italian market. As a result of this agreement, iSoftBet will integrate its current online casino game portfolio with the WagerWorks online slot games of IGT and make the entire lot available through the IGT remote game server. This way, iSoftBet customers and their players will be able to access the entire portfolio of IGT titles. Leigh Nissim, IGT commercial director, said partnering with iSoftBet would allow IGT to continue esltablish itself in Italy, which is a key market. Nir Elbaz, iSoftBet business development director, said, “Integrating with the IGT suite of games marks a significant milestone in our continued development. iSoftBet can now offer an even greater gaming experience and access to one of the world’s best libraries of online slots.”

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