This month in iGaming: February 2022
Indian state supreme court abolishes ban on gambling, Hungary opens its market to offshore operators, and Canadian province starts issuing licenses.
Indian gambling ban struck down
Rapid advances in technology are leading to increased connectivity among India’s 1.3 billion people, many of whom love games of chance. The Indian market has been a hot topic for a few years, and it’s showing no signs of cooling down.
But along with the increased attention from the global iGaming industry has come outcries from concerned citizens regarding underage and problem gambling. Citizens and anti-gambling organizations who fear a malign influence on the country’s youth bring forth litigation and petitions to try and ban gambling activities in the country.
Last year, amendments to the Police Act 1963 were introduced which banned all forms of gambling, both online and off, throughout the state of Karnataka. However, the state’s Supreme Court ruled this month that the ban was beyond the scope of the constitution, unduly infringing upon the rights of individuals and companies to do business. This comes soon after bans were lifted in the states of Madras and Kerala
Regulations in India vary widely from state to state, providing something of a hurdle for operators, but those willing to wade into the regulatory turbulence have certainly found reason enough to stay in the market.
Hungary drops monopoly
In a move surprising to some, authorities in Hungary are opening up the country’s gambling market to international operators.
Operators based in the European Economic Area (EEA) will be able to offer their services to Hungarian players provided they first obtain permission from the Hungarian regulator. Previously, only land-based casinos were allowed to apply for online licenses, and only state operator Szerencsejáték Zrt was allowed to offer sports betting.
Authorities have not yet announced whether there will be a limit to the number of permits, but they have revealed that players will be allowed to make deposits with both credit and debit cards. Increased player protections are also expected.
Licenses won’t be cheap; operators will need to hold capital reserves of HUF 1 billion ($3.2 million) and pay fees of HUF 600 million ($1.9 million).
The change brings Hungary in line with European standards. In 2017, the Court of Justice for the European Union ruled that the country’s monopoly was unlawful, as European operators were unfairly excluded from the market.
Ontario starts issuing online licenses
Private operators have long been locked out of Canada’s massive online gambling market, with the online casino landscape dominated by provincial monopolies.
Recently, however, that’s begun to change; in March of last year, the province of Ontario announced a plan to issue an unlimited number of online casino licenses without requiring applicants to hold land-based gaming permits.
This month saw the issuance of the first license. The Canadian division of theScore has received permission from the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario to function as a licensed internet gaming operator when the market officially opens in April.
Authorities in Ontario also approved a sportsbook license for PointsBet. The license comes at a good time; the province has also announced that it will allow single-event sports betting, which has long been prohibited, though parlay betting is legal.
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