Thomas Smallwood CEO SKS365 – Group GmbH , parent company of Planetwin365, sheds insight and opinion on the current industry debate surrounding the conduct and misuse of player protection and tax issues by governments and regulators. Can an appropriate context really be set on the subject matters which would benefit players, the industry and national governments?
- the act of taxing
- the fact of being taxed
- a tax imposed
- the revenue raised by taxes
Pronunciation: [pley-er] [pruh–tek-shuh n]
I don’t want to be accused of belittling the subject of player protection. I do genuinely believe it is important and any serious company should be taking steps to protect players as any consumer should be protected in any industry especially in one that forbids the participation of minors. However, when Governments wheel out this phrase in relation to gambling and deny any self interest I am, I think justifiably, sceptical. I know I am not alone.
The same is true of a State Monopoly (also pronounced [pley-er] [pruh–tek-shuh n]).
The possible ISP blocks suggested by the Austrian government are nothing new. Other countries have implemented various blocks from ISPs to URLS in an attempt to protect a gaming monopoly. In many cases the move has been heralded as being for the protection of players.
It’s as if no company would want to regulate because of the onerous task of player protection. But, it is not the requirements of player protection that prevents many legitimate company from regulating. It is uncompetitive conditions for business and for punters.
Consumers in any industry deserve the best product and the best service.
I am returning to familiar territory in whining about this but I think it’s worth repeating. Consumers in any industry deserve the best product and the best service. For anyone out there shaking your head at what you perceive as the faux altruism of a corporate entity looking to make money from the little guy, I say to you that I am coming from this as a genuine consumer. A figure perhaps lacking in some regulatory bodies.
In this specific case I work for a company that offers sports betting also under an Austrian licence and pays betting duty locally on this business so we might even benefit a little from geo-blocking in Austria. I am still against it. It does not protect the vulnerable. It simply drives truly illegitimate operators further underground, making them even less accountable than they were. It is extremely short-term thinking. You might indeed argue that in this respect it is part of a wider political trend, but that’s another story.
The great risk that, having entered restrictive and uncompetitive regulated markets, many legitimate operators will leave.
It is of course complicated to update legislation to encompass modern technology and the borderless world of the internet, but if the tax benefits are there for a country I cannot understand why it should hide behind player protection as its reasoning for a) not opening a market or b) doing so in an obsolete manner. The opposite should be true.
Take the time to implement a regulatory system that offers competitive conditions and a business friendly environment. Alongside reasonable tax rates you can then impose the standards of player protection that are suitable. The latter will not be a deal breaker.
The vast majority of illegitimate bookies are not competitive. They do not offer good value for money so encouraging companies that do will ensure consumers also protect themselves. Added to this is the great risk that, having entered restrictive and uncompetitive regulated markets, many legitimate operators will leave, as evidenced in Italy in the past.
By contrast I read last week that Dutch legislators hint at inclusiveness in their online gambling licensing programme, including reasonable licensing costs and not excluding operators who may have offered their services within Netherlands prior to licensing.
Here’s hoping it is a new trend