As a part of the European Gaming Congress, gambling industry participants from several countries of Southern Europe have told the attendees about the peculiarities of regulatory frameworks and main obstacles that operators face in this region.
The event has brought together representatives of various industry roles and sectors: operators, regulators, suppliers, etc. It has helped to get a clear picture of how the market of gambling services is regulated in some countries. Greece and Italy became major areas for discussion.
Gambling in Greece: the celebration of new regulation
It isn’t a secret that for nine years, Greece hasn’t been regulated properly with temporary licensing of operators. Starting in 2011, the government of the country has been issuing transitory licenses. Only a couple of months ago, it managed to introduce new regulations that created a good framework for doing business in this territory, according to the latest gambling news from this region. This also ensures fair competition among operators. Now, illegal gambling operations are a rare thing and very limited in Greece.
According to Panagiotis Skyrlas, Head of Information Security & Compliance - Group DPO at Kaizen Gaming, the Greek regulator monitors offshore gambling services and blocks them. This statement became surprising and was interesting for speakers’ further discussion. Mr. Skyrlas has emphasized that if players use VPN, of course, it is difficult to track such platforms. However, when payment providers are involved in an offshore gambling business, they can be easily detected and have big trouble. Moreover, the country has a blacklist with offshore websites.
At the current time, Greece has adopted new requirements for operators as well as technical specifications. Temporary-licensed operators can apply for permanent licenses. It is an open procedure, which, at the same time, is quite expensive. Mr. Skyrlas has provided the information that the sports betting license costs 3 million euros, casino – 2 million euros, the application fee is 10 000 euros.
Regulator’s protocols are the main challenge in Italy
As for Italy, Domenico Mazzola, Commercial Director at Altenar, has highlighted the most pressing problem that gambling companies often face.
“Italy is opposite to Greece. Licensed operators can’t advertise their brand, while offshore can. Licensed operators also can’t use the functionality that is strongly used by offshore gambling companies. It is a big problem for operators who pay taxes and want to get at least the same advantages as offshore providers use. Otherwise, it is unfair competition,” said Mr. Mazzola.
As an example of the limited functionality, he has provided the prohibition of the cash-out feature in Italy. He has also added that gambling services providers usually have the image of bag guys in the face of the government. However, they pay taxes to the state coffers and the Italian government should facilitate licensed operators.
Another challenge of the Italian gambling industry is the regulator’s protocols. They are used for communication with the regulator and create many difficulties for operators because they are very peculiar. In addition to this, protocols are quite old and written in Italian that becomes a considerable obstacle for suppliers. Moreover, Domenico Mazzola has said that there is no one protocol for all gambling products, one protocol is applied to each service. That is why it isn’t easy for suppliers to provide their software in Italy. As a supplier, a company should guarantee that its partners comply with everything.
All speakers concluded that regulations are good only if licensed operators have the advantage over illegal services. Domenico Mazzola has supported the idea that there should be balance between specific regulations and requirements in terms of license and certification together with technology.
Dr. Yanica Sant, Head of International Affairs and Policy at Malta Gaming Authority, has expressed her opinion from another viewpoint. She has said that, although regulators may seem to create too many restrictions that prevent gambling companies from implementing innovations, they are also interested in new approaches and tools like other industry participants. According to Dr. Yanica Sant, control bodies want the regulated market to be attractive. She has added that innovation isn’t only in making products or marketing strategies better but also in making compliance better.
Read more: Peculiarities of gambling in Europe