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(Sept. 19, 2011) On September 7, 2011, following the publication of a green paper and a public consultation, the European Commission announced that it intends to draft a communication on a proposal regulating online gambling. It is anticipated that the proposal will be in the form of a directive that will establish minimum standards concerning this issue. The Commission was prompted to take action because of the disparity in existing legal regimes for online gambling among the European Union (EU) Members and also because of the growing number of judgments delivered by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) on the subject. (Andrew Williams, Commission Eyes EU Regulation of Online Gambling, EURACTIV (Sept. 7, 2011).)

In the absence of regulation of online gambling at the EU level, EU Members have adopted their own rules to fight corruption, fraud, money laundering, and other illegal activities generated by gambling. Consequently, in some EU countries, online gambling is completely unrestricted and available, while in others, such as Sweden, it is prohibited. In June 2010, the ECJ held that EU Members have the right to completely prohibit online gambling, if they wish to do so to combat fraud. (Id.)

The gambling industry, in principle, does not oppose regulation at the EU level, but spokesmen have voiced their concerns about the effectiveness of such an action. Malcolm Bruce, a representative of Belfair, one of the world’s biggest online gambling companies, expressed the sentiments of the industry by stating “[w]e welcome strong regulation and would like to see it across Europe. But it will be hard to find regulators that are competent enough to regulate the online gambling market.” (Id.)

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(Mar. 29, 2013) On March 24, 2013, the Supreme Court of Israel rendered a decision in an appeal filed by the Israeli police against the Internet Association of Israel. Justice Uzi Vogelman rejected the appellants’ claim that district police commanders in Israel have the authority to order Internet service providers (ISPs) to block access to gambling websites based on section 229(A)(1) of the Penal Law, 5737-1977. This provision authorizes district police commanders to “direct the closing of … a place for prohibited games or a place for the conduct of lotteries or betting.” (Penal Law, 5737-1977, §229(A)(1), Laws of the State of Israel Special Volume Penal Law (1977).)

Justice Vogelman held that although a gambling website may be viewed as “a place,” the blocking of which may also be viewed as its “closing” within the meaning of section 229(A)(1), the main obstacle to applying the authority contained in this provision is the lack of an expressed authority to order private third parties, in this case the ISPs, to assist in the implementation of that authority. According to Justice Vogelman, when the law grants a governmental agency authority, it is presumed that the legislator intended that agency, and not another, implement it. This is particularly true, according to Vogelman, with respect to criminal law enforcement. “Therefore, the State – as [the party which] has formulated norms of behavior and which is in charge of their enforcement… is directly responsible for the restraint and inhibitions required in implementing [that authority] …” (AdminA 3782/12 Commander of the Police of Tel Aviv-Yafo District in Israel v. the Israeli Internet Association par. 14 [in Hebrew], State of Israel: The Judicial Authority website (Supreme Court decision, Mar. 24, 2013) (translated by author, R.L.).)

Justice Vogelman explained that there are various legislative arrangements that enable governmental agencies to order third parties to assist in implementing an agency’s authority. However, what is required, he held, is an expressed authorization for the issuance of such orders. (Id.)

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(June 16, 2015) Japan’s amended Horse Racing Act was promulgated on May 7, 2015. (Horse Racing Act, Act No. 158 of 1948 (amended by Act No. 18 of 2015), text of amendment bill, The House of Representatives website (in Japanese).) When the amendment becomes effective within six months of its promulgation, the Minister of Agriculture can designate overseas horse races for which the Japan Racing Association (JRA) or local governments can sell betting tickets in Japan. (Id. new art. 3-2, ¶ 1 & new art. 20-2, ¶ 1.) The races that the Minister can so designate must be administered under a system to maintain fairness that is equivalent to the Japanese system of fairness in horse races. (Id.) In addition, such races must be open for race horses registered with the JRA. (Id. new art. 3-2, ¶. 2, & art. 14.)

Japanese horses and jockeys have had great success in major races overseas in recent years. According to horse racing expert Fumitaka Tsuruoka, “the Japanese have made a lot of efforts to catch up with European and American racehorses for more than 50 years since the first overseas challenge in 1958.” (Matt Majendie, Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe: Why Horse Racing Is ‘Big in Japan,’ CNN (Oct. 4, 2013).) In 2014, two horses trained in Japan gained the top two rankings in the world. (Press Release, British Horseracing Authority, Japanese Horses Rise to the Top of the World(Jan. 20, 2015).)

A part of the profits of the new ticket sales will be used to support the horse racing industry in Japan. (Domestic Sales of Overseas Horse Racing Tickets, Amending Horse Race Act, Allocate (Profits) to Animal Industry, Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, JAPAN AGRICULTURAL NEWS (Feb. 28, 2015) (in Japanese).)

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(May 11, 2017) On May 7, 2017, the Government of the Macau Special Administrative Region (SAR) of the People’s Republic of China announced that “know your customer” (KYC) technology will be installed in automated teller machines (ATMs) in the city, in particular those in and near casinos.  Holders of UnionPay cards issued by mainland China banks will be required to scan their ID cards and undergo a facial recognition check when withdrawing money in Macau from ATMs with such KYC features.  (Ben’ao Quanbu Zidong Guiyuanji Jiang Fen Jieduan Yinjin Xin Jishu, Cuoshi Youxiao Jiaqiang dui Neidi Yinhang Ka Chikaren de Baozhang [All ATMs in Macau Will Install New Technology in Phases, A Method Effectively Enhancing Protection of Holders of Mainland-Issued Bank Cards], Macau Government Information Bureau website (May 7, 2017); Macao Strengthens Monitoring of Money Withdrawal Using Mainland-Issued Bank Cards, Macau Government Information Bureau website (May 8, 2017).)

According to the government statement, such requirements apply to holders of mainland bank cards only and will not apply to those holding Macau bank cards or cards issued in any other places.  The measure “takes account of the increase in usage and transaction volume in Macao concerning withdrawals via mainland-issued bank cards,” said the statement.  (Macao Strengthens Monitoring of Money Withdrawal Using Mainland-Issued Bank Cards, supra.)  The SAR government has vowed to exert its best efforts to implement anti-money laundering rules and rules countering the financing of terrorism.  (Id.)

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