Gambling firms, including many based in the United Kingdom, are worried that they might be subjected to a crackdown in a number of overseas markets following the issue of an online casino blacklist by the government of Slovakia. The Eastern European country has threatened to cut access to 10 gambling sites if their operators do not exit the market on their own. The operators have been given 10 days within which to wind up their operations in the country.
Industry Heavyweights on the Slovakia Blacklist
The gambling site operators faced with closure in Slovakia include industry heavyweights such as William Hill, 888 Holdings, Bwin, and GVC. In addition, 17 other companies have been issued warnings by the country’s finance ministry. Companies that continue to offer online gambling services in Slovakia without the necessary licenses will have to face hefty fines that can go up to $576,600.
While none of these sites do a great deal of business in Slovakia, there are major concerns that the country’s move might be emulated by other countries which do not have proper online gambling legislation. In fact, many gambling companies operate in gray markets because a number of countries haven’t developed laws to regulate online gambling for a number of reasons. If these countries ban online gambling entirely then the industry will be impacted adversely.
a Number of New Gambling Regulations in Slovakia
Slovakia has put a number of new gambling regulations into place the previous year. According to its new laws, gambling companies will have to obtain local licenses before they will be permitted to operate in the market. They will also have to pay tax amounting to 27% on their gross gaming revenues. In fact, many operators had quit the market when the law came into effect.
Two of the ten blacklisted companies have stopped operations. The government of Slovakia will pursue legal options against the others. It will also try to block financial service providers from processing payments to these online casinos in order to pressurize them to shut down.
Poland and Netherlands Changing Regulations
While Poland and the Netherlands are currently in the process of changing regulations, Turkey has all but banned the industry given that its President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is heading to the far right. Oakvale Capital partner Sandford Louden pointed out that the industry was worried at the prospect of many countries banning online gambling.
Interestingly, the online gambling industry has also been pushing its definition of what the black market comprises of given that it needs to expand out of regulated markets. Besides, the regulated markets such as the United Kingdom have almost reached saturation point. In fact, the heyday of double-digit growth is unlikely to happen again in the UK market.
Gambling Companies Not Giving Up Easily
Gambling companies are unlikely to give up their operations in Slovakia without a fight. They will argue that any gambling license from a European country can be used to offer services in any other EU country. Since most of them have licenses from Malta, Gibraltar, or even the UK, they claim the legal right to operate in Slovakia and other countries.
GVC released a statement to the effect that fair competition in the industry could be ensured via sensible regulations. 888 said that its growth focus was restricted to places that already had a proper regulatory framework. William Hill said that it would obey all legislations governing the industry. The company also pointed out that it was far ahead of other UK companies when it came to generating revenues from regulated markets outside the country.
Slovakia also seems headed towards shutting its land based casino industry down. However, companies that are already in operation will be permitted to continue in business until their licenses run out.