Changes in the Gaming Business: What Has Changed and What Is Ahead

Date

2019 12 18

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The Gambling Control Authority under the Ministry of Finance of the Republic of Lithuania (hereinafter – GCA) hereby informs that starting with November 1st, 2019 some provisions of the Gaming Law of the Republic of Lithuania (hereinafter – Gambling Law) have been changed.

Part of the amendments made by the Parliament of the Republic of Lithuania (Parliament) are in force already since July 1st, 2019. I.e. prohibition of persons under 18 years of age to enter gaming machine halls, bingo halls, betting and totalizator stations and mandatory customer identity checks.

However, some of the new radical changes related to the implementation of legislation and gambling operators' activities came into force at a later date, i.e. on November 1st, 2019. Thus, the latest changes from November 1st, 2019 are:

Prohibitions related to gaming advertising

In order to limit the negative impact of gambling on the public and especially on persons under 18 years of age, an amendment of Article 10 of the Gaming Law has been introduced, which, once in force, will only allow advertising of the names, brands and types of gambling companies. Any additional written, visual or audio information will not be allowed in the advertisement. Publishing of any gambling-related information on websites dedicated or targeting persons under 18 years of is prohibited as well.

Regarding video recording of gambling places

Since November 1st, 2019 the amendments of Article 15 of the Gaming Law that came into force. These amendments where approved by Parliament on November 21st, 2017. The essence of amendments is tightening of  the requirements of video recording for gambling venues.

The amendments of Gaming Law sought to make video recording compulsory not only in casinos, but also in gaming machine halls and betting stations. Before the November 1st, 2019, the video recording requirement was established only for casino venues.

The need to make video recording mandatory not only in casinos but also in gaming machine halls and betting stations was caused by the difficulties encountered by the GCA during investigations with the aim to disclose all kinds of possible violations (allowing to enter gambling venues for self-restricted persons, underage persons, slot machine failures, reports of declining to payout the winnings, etc.). Therefore, in order to ensure more effective control of gambling venues, the provision of the Gaming Law related to video recording at gambling places since November 1st, 2019 was expanded by supplementing a list of gambling venues with video recording requirement with gaming machine halls and betting stations.

Before these amendments gaming operators were filming the premises of gaming machine halls and betting stations, however providing such a recordings to GCA upon request was not compulsory. This made it difficult for the Supervisory Authority to carry out checks on gaming companies, in particular investigating cases related to possible entries of self-restricted gamblers.. It should be noted, that since May 1st, 2017 the amendments of Gaming Law made it possible for individuals to apply for a ban from gambling submitting an application to the Register of Gambling Restricted persons. However, the GCA continued to receive reports or complaints from such persons that, despite their request to ban them to enter gaming venues, they were still allowed to enter gambling places. In the absence of video recordings, it was very difficult to reconstruct the situation and to determine whether the self-restricted person was actually allowed to access and to gamble, and if it’s the case, how it happened and for what reasons he entered the restricted  place (negligence on the part of the employee of gaming venues, fraud on the part of the person).

Since November 1st, 2019 the amendments of the Gaming Law provide detailed, where and what   at the gambling venues shall be recorded. The provisions of the Gaming Law so far provided for mandatory video recording only in the case of a casino, with a video camera installed above each gaming table, which continuously recorded gaming at gaming tables. As of November 1st, 2019 casinos, gaming machine halls and betting stations must be equipped with a video recording system that can record continuously: entrance to gambling venues, cash registers or place where the cash is accepted and payouts are made. In the case of a casino, also a must is a video recording of the inventory procedure where these sums of cash and tokens deposited at gaming tables.

In addition, another important requirement is related to filming in gambling venues is the obligation for gambling operators to ensure that video recording is of such a quality, that using it is possible to clearly identify: persons entering the gambling venues, the actions of gamblers and gambling venues cashiers – i.e. records are made about the persons and the amount of money they exchanged, also were recordings of such persons who exchanged certain amount of money to tokens or who took the payout of winnings made in the relevant journals, as such obligation is imposed by the Gaming Law or other legislation of the Republic of Lithuania.

Correspondingly, in the case of casinos, the videos must additionally show the steps taken during the token inventory (from the amount deposited and the tokens taken from the moment of gambling to their counting). The aforementioned requirement, which must be specifically visible, is relevant for the purposes of the Law on Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing of the Republic of Lithuania, which is related to the GCA’s aim to control gambling against money laundering and if such cases are recorded, the Financial Crime Investigation Service is accordingly informed. In addition, there is an obligation to retain the video recordings in specific cases (till the end of investigation opened regarding player's claim or till the end of investigation of gaming company regarding any other issues) beyond the 180 day video recording retention period.

Finally, GCA has set the quality requirements of video recording at gambling sites in order to avoid cases where poor video quality makes it difficult to identify individuals or to determine other circumstances relevant to investigation.

Because of  changes of Gaming Law that expanded the number of gaming venues where video recording became mandatory, as well as additional mandatory content that must be captured as well as quality requirements for video recordings, i.e. the video must clearly show the entrance to the gambling venues, the cash register and the players entering the gambling venues, after November 1st, 2019 it will make it easier to detect and identify the breaches of  the Law, reported  by gamblers, breaches of money laundering and terrorist financing prevention regulations , as well as all other inspections and investigations initiated both on the basis of individual reports or at the initiative of the GCA. These changes of the Gaming Law will not only help to protect the rights of gamblers more effectively, but will also benefit the GCA in its role.

Regarding the slot machines being connected to the electronic system

Gambling operators is granted the right (Gaming Law Article 16 Part 8) to connect existing slot machines to an electronic slot data management system. Data recording and performance monitoring of slot machines connected to the system will be performed remotely by electronic means. All slot machines shall be connected to a common system by November 1st, 2021.