Man vs. technology – Which way will the cards fall for the Indian online gambling market?

A blast from the past to understand the value of casino & sports betting regulation

LeoVegas Casino & Sports is a Swedish online gambling operator founded in 2012. Now, seven years later they have finally opened the doors for Swedish players. Since the start LeoVegas main market have always been Sweden and in 2017 they spent $35 million in advertisement to attract Swedish customers.

So how does it come the doors have finally been opened for Swedish players?

LeoVegas has been operating in a legal grey zone up until the regulation of the Swedish gambling market the 1st of January 2019. They, together with 100 other Swedish casino operators, have made use of a legal glitch which allows casinos based outside of Sweden to target players inside the borders.

Prior to the regulation, all operators hosted their real money games from the gambling friendly island Malta. A tiny, progressive island which also is a member of The Commonwealth but have decided to take an open approach to online gambling, cryptocurrency, cannabis and Artificial Intelligence – compared to some other of its’ members.

Malta’s goal is to stand in the forefront for digital and technological debated topics. The island, which is a part of the European Union since 2003, quickly realized the value of attracting foreign investment. The benefits of taxing companies inside the country on gambling activities performed abroad became a gold mine. Taxation from online casinos and sportsbooks accounted for 12% of the GDP in 2018.

Now, when Sweden has regulated its own market, Malta can wave goodbye to their tax income on Swedish players.

How deceptive marketing methods are used for short wins

There is much India can learn from this. India is standing in front of either battling 1000’s years of betting culture, or follow a recipe which has successfully been working in many other countries.

We can already see clear traces of how modern technology is running in circles around the outdated betting laws. 

Indian Facebook users have over the past few months seen a sponsored Facebook article flooding the newsfeed. The article says the CEO of LeoVegas, Peter Newsted, was fired due to a loophole in a promotions terms & conditions.

This was something many Indian betting- and gambling-guide portals picked up. They debunked the fake news article and managed to prove there’s nobody at LeoVegas named Peter Newsted.

The sole reason behind the fake news article was to attract Indian casino players with a deceptive promotion by lying about the mistake.

LeoVegas accept Indian players at their website, but they are not actively doing any type of promotions towards India. If a player comes to their website, they are welcome, but there’s no pursuing of the customers as of today.

Since the Indian online gambling market is a “wild wild west” LeoVegas cannot take any legal rights towards the fake news articles.

If the market was regulated, the situation would have ended very differently.

It’s not only about the money

When you are regulating a market, it is not all about the tax money or controlling your partners marketing initiatives. No, the foremost purpose is supervising the health of the players. A regulated market is a safe and sustainable market for the online punters.

Sweden, who are known for their bullet-proof welfare system, did not go easy on responsible gambling and self-exclusion once the regulation went into force. All casino operators must obey by some of the strictest guidelines for responsible gambling. During the first week of regulation 10 000 players self-excluded themselves from a central system, so they will never be able to place bets again. Not on any form of online gambling site in Sweden. None. Never.

The other day the Swedish online casino Ninja lost its license to operate in Sweden, since they had not fulfilled the criteria for responsible gambling. A tough blow for a company which relies 95% of its revenue on the given market.

What can Indian online casinos & sports books learn from this?

Unfortunately, not too much, since the local operators are not invited to the party.

As of today there’s a long list of websites hosted abroad which accepts bets in INR, LeoVegas being one of them. The economical mathematics are easy to calculate, and it does not benefit the Indian tax system nor employment opportunities. All the bets are wagered and taxed outside of the borders.

Malta stands as a happy chap though.

However, this also means all valuable player data on behavior is stored abroad. Data which can be used to enhance the experience for the users. Lacking this valuable data means the Indian casino’s and sportsbooks will fall short on product knowledge, which will further push the market advantage for the international gambling operators.

What will happened within the legal field in India is still unclear. What is not unclear is the fact that international casinos will continue to pursue their economic dreams within our borders. What we will do about it is entirely up to us.

Disclaimer: This article is a sponsored post and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the authors of this website. Readers may treat this as an advertorial. 

Read more about online gambling in India.


Miss Fashion TV Gaming World 2019 to be selected in Malta on 30th May

B2B online gaming brand Fashion TV Gaming Group (FTVGG) has announced that it will be hosting its first Miss FashionTV Gaming World awards on the 30th May in Malta at the Fort St Elmo in Valletta, Malta.

Miss FashionTV Gaming World 2019 is being held in collaboration with Malta Fashion Week and will culminate the week-long fabulous programme of events with a one-of-a-kind FashionTV glam party.

The event will include a cocktail reception followed by the Miss FashionTV Gaming World contest, with models competing from all over the world.

The event is also slated to host a fashion show and live entertainment before announcing this year’s winner who will be crowned on the night and rewarded with a cash prize and the opportunity of becoming the face of FashionTV Gaming World for 2019.

Aviva Baner, Head of Media, at FashionTV Gaming Group noted: “Miss FashionTV Gaming 2019 is definitely an industry first of its kind and will represent one of the major highlights of the global online gaming industry this year.

We look forward to welcoming our guests and treating them in FashionTV style as we wait to crown our brand ambassador for the forthcoming year. Apart from representing FashionTV Gaming Group, this year’s winner will also gain the international exposure that comes with a mega brand like FashionTV, and we’re excited to being a part of the journey.”

Fashion TV Gaming Group licenses its ‘Fashion TV’ brand to B2C online gaming operators across the globe for various kinds of games including slot machines, casino games, sports betting and skill games.

Legal & Regulatory

Malta exempts fantasy sports from gambling ambit, to have separate licensing regime for skill games

The Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) has exempted fantasy sports from the onerous requirement of obtaining a license under the country’s Remote Gaming Act and is looking to have a separate legislation to govern and license digital or online skill games, differentiating it from other online gambling and betting activities.

The MGA in a recent press release stated that “in view of the element of skill and knowledge involved in fantasy sports, such an activity should be differentiated from games of chance in terms of licensing and regulation.

The Maltese Government is committed to introduce legislation to regulate certain skill games which may present increased risks to the consumer. In this regard, the proposed Skill Games Regulations have been notified to the European Commission as part of the process for the Authority to roll out its licensing framework to regulate such skill-based games, including fantasy sports.

In the interim, the Minister for Competitiveness and Digital, Maritime and Services Economy, the Hon. Dr Emmanuel Mallia, has, on advice of the Authority, published the attached Legal Notice 271 of 2016, entitled the Fantasy Sports (Exemption) Regulations (S.L. 438.10), exempting fantasy sports from the requirement of a gambling licence issued in terms of the Lotteries and Other Games Act (Chapter 438 of the Laws of Malta) or the Remote Gaming Regulations (S.L. 438.04).”

The latest Fantasy Sports (Exemption) Regulations, 2016 notified by the Maltese government defines fantasy sports as “a contest played for money or money’s worth whereby the winning outcome is determined predominantly through the skill or knowledge of the player, and where the results are determined by the accumulation of statistical results of the performance of a number of individuals in sporting events.” 

The Regulations further state that fantasy sports websites are no longer required to obtain a gaming or betting license, but noted that there may be certain reporting requirements that still need to be fulfilled.

A 2015 Position Paper issued by the Maltese government uses the predominant test (also adopted by the Indian Supreme Court) and defines these games as those were skill predominates chance, although a considerable amount of skill exists in such games. The government then proposed a ‘lighter touch’ regulation for such skill games that will ensure that certain basic consumer protection norms are followed by such websites.

The Maltese government has proposed rummy, backgammon and tarot as examples of skill games, but has not explicitly mentioned poker.  The legislation and roll-out of skill games licenses is expected to take place by 2017 after securing the approval of the European Commission.

Separate regulation for online skill games and distinguishing it from gambling by a prominent online gaming jurisdiction like Malta will set a good precedence that can be adopted by governments in India and other jurisdictions. Several offshore gaming hubs may follow Malta’s example and separate skill games (whether played for stakes or not) from the ambit of gambling.