Eye on Europe - Jan. 3, 2007

3 January 2007

Online Betting Out -- Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a federal bill on Dec. 30, 2006 regulating the activities of casinos and creating of four special gambling zones--all far away from Moscow and without any infrastructure: the Altai Territory (southwest Siberia), Primorye (the Far East), the Kaliningrad Region (Russia's exclave on the Baltic Sea) and on the border of the Rostov Region and the Krasnodar Territory in the south of the country. Online betting and poker via the Internet, is not allowed starting July 01, 2009. Bookmakers pari-mutuel betting offices are allowed to sell tickets throughout the entire Federal Russian Republic.

New Blacklist -- The Italian AAMS (Autonomous Administration of State Monopolies) on Tuesday issued a new decree regarding the so called blacklist of online gambling operators. The document contains substantially the same provisions of the decree issued by the AAMS on Feb. 2, 2006. Yan Pecoraro, a lawyer with Portolano Colella Cavallo Studio Legale, explains: "The reasons of this new regulation is due to the fact that the Italian budget law for 2007 (law no. 296 of Dec. 27, 2006) abrogated the provisions (paragraphs no. 535 to 538) of the budget law for 2006 under which the blacklist was adopted by AAMS. Thus, the old blacklist has been abrogated. Therefore, the AAMS was bound to issue a new regulation based on the provisions (substantially the same) of the budget law for 2007. Such a decree should be published in the Italian Official Gazette in the next days. The new blacklist contains 637 Web sites. We also note that the text of the budget law for 2007 grants to the AAMS wider (because undefined) powers to prevent the operation of blacklisted Web sites."

No Casino Test -- The test of Dutch state-owned Holland Casino giving the operator a two-year Internet casino license could be halted by the formation of a new Dutch government. Negotiators from the Christian-Democrats, the Socialists and the Christian Union are trying to form a new cabinet consisting of the three political players. If they succeed in forming this new government, the casino test on the Internet, mobile phones and PDAs will be stopped immediately because those parties are against the casino test.

Times Are a Changing -- "Online Lotto in Germany is still possible," Jens Schumann, a member of the executive board of Tipp24 AG, stated on Dec. 14, 2006. "We will continue to operate our internet business in the same way as before. We are very confident that there will be a positive decision on a European level, as the current draft contains serious infringements of EU legislation. We will continue our numerous talks with the state parliaments, as the brokerage of state lotto and lotteries has to be excluded from the planned Internet ban." In an injunction served on Tuesday, the German state of Saxony-Anhalt has forbidden Tipp24 AG from carrying out its business operations in Saxony-Anhalt, one of the 16 states of the Federal Republic of Germany. According to the wording of the injunction, this affects both the brokerage of participation in lotteries in Saxony-Anhalt, especially as the commercial organizer of lottery teams, and advertising for lotteries which are illegal in Saxony-Anhalt and which can be called up in Saxony-Anhalt. The prohibition goes into effect immediately. The authorities of Saxony-Anhalt had already threatened Tipp24 AG with prohibition in March 2006. Tipp24 AG has no knowledge as to why Saxony-Anhalt chose the current moment in time to serve the injunction. Tipp24 AG is currently examining the factual and legal consequences of the prohibition as well as its possibilities to appeal. Tipp24 AG is still of the opinion that any restriction or even prohibition of its business operations in Saxony-Anhalt is incompatible with valid national and European legislation. The measure will also have to be weighed against an injunction issued by the Federal Cartel Office and since confirmed by the Higher Regional Court of Düsseldorf, in which the closure of lottery markets of individual federal states for each other was declared illegal. There are no comparable threats or injunctions from other federal states at present. Saxony-Anhalt is the only state that has prohibited Tipp24 from carrying out its business operations. Tipp24 has no indications that other federal state intends to issue such an injunction.

Rob van der Gaast has a background in sports journalism. He worked for over seven years as the head of sports for Dutch National Radio and has developed new concepts for the TV and the gambling industry. Now he operates from Istanbul as an independent gambling research analyst. He specializes in European gambling matters and in privatizations of gambling operators. Rob has contributed to IGN since Jul 09, 2001.