Martin Lycka: My letter to Gambling Santa

In the latest of a series of columns on international gambling legislation, GVC Holdings Director of Regulatory Affairs Martin Lycka pens a letter to the Santa of Gambling and hopes that, for a change. the industry is on the ‘good’ list. 

Dear Gambling Santa,

My name is Martin and I am probably a little too old to write to you. Nonetheless, I have been very good this year and I am genuinely looking forward to your visit at Christmas. There are a few special things I would really like. 

They are:

  1. Sensible online gambling regulation in Germany – Santa, please have a word here. I appreciate that you will have to slide down 16 different chimneys and that some of them don’t seem to have been swept for years but perhaps Rudolph can help you and the sixteen chimney owners find your way; a way towards post July 2021 regulation that would allow both online sports betting and casino without subjecting them to counterproductive regulatory requirements;
  2. Successful conclusion of the years-long regulatory debate in the Netherlands – Santa, you will recall that this one has been on my list for a while. I don’t mean to sound like a broken record but it would be great if we could please get it over the line next year so that our websites can finally put those clogs on and enter the “tulippy” future of a regulated market. I will go as far as saying that fully functioning Dutch regulation would be iDeal;
  3. Clarity on the future Brazilian sports betting regulation – You can take this one a wee bit easier, Santa; feel free to enjoy the Carnival first. Once the festivities are out of the way though, let’s grab Dancer, Prancer, Donder, Dasher and the rest of the reindeer squad and fly the regulatory sleigh to Brasilia. The industry can fill your bag with a plenty of exotic ingredients originating from other licensed jurisdictions that can be used to season the regulatory feijoada in a way that will provide for a tasty market entry; 
  4. Tranquility on the home turf – Even before you harness your herd and set off on your globe-trotting trip this Christmas, Saint Nick, we shall have a winner in the latest of Brexit related votes.  Both the red and the blue corners of this boxing match have had things to say about gambling regulation. I wish that regardless of the fact whether Number 10 will have a new lodger or not on December 13 the future regulatory debate were led in a Christmas-like spirit of collaboration and respect, based on facts, rather than myths and sensationalist newspaper headlines; 
  5. Victory in the battle of Boston and other US regulatory matters – considering your ubiquitous presence in US households as the star of a beverage related advertising campaign during the festivities, I’d like to think that it is you, Santa, that has the moral authority to propose that May 14 become Betting Day in the United States. Last year America gave us the most precious gift in the form of opening of the sports betting market. 2020 will be a year to build upon and defend what has come into being so far – the industry is in particular gearing itself up for DoJ’s appeal against the first instance decision in the Wire Act case that will be heard by the Court of Appeals in Boston. In that regard, we could use some of your North Pole based lawyers that regularly get you off the hook when it comes to sleigh speeding and parking tickets; 
  6. No more gambling advertising bans – Santa, my dear friend, it would appear that some European countries are itching to join the club Italy opened earlier this year. Far be it from me to wish somebody to be lonely but I would rather Italy reconsidered its decision than other countries went down the same path. You already know my view that advertising can serve as one of the most efficient channels of conveying responsible gambling messages while allowing customers to distinguish between the regulated and unregulated operators. Perhaps you and I could sit down with your Elvish tech scrum teams and design a couple of new educational DVDs that could fill Christmas stockings in the likes of Brussels and Copenhagen; 
  7. Boost from the newly regulating jurisdictions in the post Soviet space – I realise that Father Frost is stiff competition in these lands, Santa. You would nonetheless be aware of the fact that the Ukraine and most recently Uzbekistan have embarked upon a regulatory path. Bearing that in mind, I would be very grateful if you could put in a good word for us with your gifts-giving peer in a bid to obtain regulation that would be worth writing home about. 

And this it, Santa, old chap. As you will have seen, all my wishes are perfectly sensible and eminently doable. It is not as though I asked for a ’54 convertible light blue, a yacht or my stocking to be filled with a duplex and checks… I sincerely hope that this year you will deliver for me. 

Thank you,

Martin

Martin Lycka is Director of Regulatory Affairs at GVC Group. Before that he spent nearly ten years at Paddy Power Betfair working on international markets. Views expressed are personal and not necessarily those of GVC Group.

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