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French Regulator ANJ Warns About Illegal Gambling Sites

french_regulator_issues_warning_over_illegal_online_casinos_on_facebook_2L’Autorité Nationale des Jeux (ANJ), a gambling regulator from France, works hard to prevent illegal gambling in the country. The regulator recently warned all players about the fraud that is occurring in the industry: various illegal gambling operators use the brands of popular licensed operators to advertise their services on social media platforms, especially Facebook.

Risks for players

That way, even those looking to gamble legally can be tricked into placing illegal bets. Now, the regulator has joined forces with Meta to monitor and resolve the issue.

So far, ANJ has found about 400 illegal websites, which resulted in 137 user accounts on Facebook being blocked. The main operators that were used for illegal operations were Barrière and JOA groups. The profiles of these operators have been created and their brand image was used to attract potential customers to the illegal website. They also created mobile apps that players were led to from Facebook images.

Online casinos aren’t legalized in France. However, some operators are allowed to offer online sports betting and horse racing betting services to French players. Also, land-based casinos that have appropriate licenses are also legal.

According to ANJ, players are at huge risk due to betting on illegal sites. They risk not being paid when they win, as well as various payment frauds and the risk of stealing personal data.

The regulator commented: “If in doubt about the legality of the gambling site on which you are about to bet, consult the list of sites approved by the ANJ. You can also consult the blacklist of sites that have been administratively blocked by the ANJ. We invite anyone who notices the presence of fake advertisements to report them.”

Worth of illegal betting market

In December 2023, ANJ said that the illegal betting market in France was worth up to €1.50 billion (£1.28bn/$1.62bn), which is more than 10% higher than the wagered amount in the country on a yearly basis.

According to research conducted by ANJ, 510 illegal websites are active. About 60% of all traffic comes from 21 of them.

PwC published a study with concerning data: the gross gaming revenue illegal casinos earned is somewhere between €748m and €1.5bn, which is between 5% and 10% of total gambling in France. The record was set in 2022 when it was €12.9 billion.

Source:

“French regulator issues warning over illegal online casinos on Facebook”, igamingbusiness.com, January 31, 2023.

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Casino Crime Round Up: San Jose Gambling, Prostitution Raid Leads to Arrests

Five suspects were apprehended after a North San Jose, Calif., raid of an illicit gambling operation this week.

San Jose Police Department cruiser
San Jose Police Department cruiser, pictured above. Police officers raided an illegal gambling operation. (Image: San Jose Spotlight)

Authorities also seized 33 guns, about 20K in cash, 150K rounds of ammo, and some 500 pounds of suspected marijuana during Wednesday’s court-ordered raid.

The arrested suspects are Saolepea Liu, 42, of Antioch, Calif., as well as Nido Nguyen, 35, Phuong Nguyen, 44, Windie Pratt, 41, and Anai Garcia, 24, each of San Jose.

Each was booked on charges at Santa Clara County Jail. Specific counts weren’t immediately released.

The investigation began earlier this month when San Jose Police Department (SJPD) officers were tipped off there was an illegal casino operating in several units in a commercial building on Autumndale Drive in North San Jose.

It turns out there was more than illicit gambling occurring at the site. SJPD officers said they uncovered illegal drug sales and prostitution, according to San Francisco TV station KRON.

Women who were victims of sex trafficking at a brothel in the building were provided resources and assistance following the raid, KRON reported based on a SJPD statement released on Friday.

The investigation is ongoing, and more arrests are possible.

Over $2K Robbed from Casino

A Bozeman, Mont. man was arrested this week after allegedly holding up a small gaming facility and burglarizing a gas station.

Duane Cantwell, 50, was charged with a count each of robbery and burglary after the theft from Bozeman’s Montana Lil’s Casino on Wednesday night.

A female clerk at the business claimed the bandit grabbed her as she tried to count money.

Please don’t hurt me, please don’t hurt me. I have children who need me,” she pleaded with the robber.

He then ordered her to hand over the loot and said he wouldn’t harm her if he got the cash.

He fled the business after being given $2,126, according to the Bozeman Daily Chronicle.

He drove off in a white Ram 1500 pickup truck. His photo was captured on a surveillance camera.

Cantwell also allegedly burglarized a Town Pump gas station administrative office in Belgrade, Mont. on Wednesday night.

He entered the office by climbing through ceiling tiles. The office was “trashed,” police revealed. But it’s unclear if anything was stolen.

On Thursday, police had identified Cantwell as the suspect. They spotted his pickup truck at Montana’s Gallatin County Fairgrounds. He was found inside a nearby camper and apprehended.

He was booked at Gallatin County Detention Center. His case was turned over to local prosecutors.

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Parliament to Approve the New Gambling Bill in Curaçao

A significant step towards the new gambling regulation in Curaçao has been taken. The bill for the gambling regulation is submitted to the authorities, and now the parliament is supposed to decide whether it will approve it or not.

Significant changes in the market

regulation-There are various changes for the currently licensed operators as well, so the Ministry of Finance issued a notice to inform them about the transition to the new system in order to ensure smooth operation.

The changes will be overseen by the National Ordinance for Games of Chance (LOK), a new regulation body that will be established soon.

There will be a variety of changes, but the most important are changing the license types and establishing new fees for operators.

The operators won’t be able to register for sub-license through the Curaçao Gaming Control Board (GCB) anymore after March 31, and all operators that aren’t registered won’t be able to operate.

The portal was opened on September 1, which greatly shortened the whole application process. The operators were able to apply for licenses from November 1, and it could process new applications and register the operators who had already received their licenses.

The applications in progress will continue after March 31, while licensees will continue operating under a provisional license.

If the operators haven’t applied for the direct license before March 31, they will be able to continue operating under a sub-license or wait for LOK to be enacted, when they are obligated to apply for the direct license.

According to the new law, all licenses were renewed.

Digital Seal regulation

All operators who got their licenses before January 1 will be able to show the Digital Seal they got from the GCB on their website. Also, the applicants who have already submitted their applications will be able to do the same. The policy related to showcasing the Digital Seal will be released in the future.

The first announcement of the new Curaçao regulations happened in July 2022, and work on the process started in January this year.

New legislation has great support among the country’s government and regulators. Sixiènne Jansen, legal advisor to Curaçao’s Ministry of Finance, said that the first potential date for releasing new updates was September 1. Javier Silvania, Curaçao’s minister of finance, also supported the LOK and the new regulations, saying back in September that it would prevent the grey-listing by the Financial Action Task Force in the country.

Source: Curaçao gambling regulation bill enters parliament”, December 19, 2023.

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Myanmar’s Kayin State Gambling Project Leads to Sanctions Against Officials

Myanmar is in the middle of an unofficial civil war that has at its roots, in part, an attempt to rid the country of its gambling element. The U.S., the UK, and other countries are making a statement about the ongoing conflict, introducing sanctions against two high-ranking officials in the country who also have ties to a major gambling operation.

Colonel Saw Chit Thu with his entourage traveling through Kayin
Colonel Saw Chit Thu, with his entourage, traveling through Kayin. The leader of Myanmar’s Border Guard Force faces new sanctions for his ties to illegal gambling. (Image: Frontier Myanmar)

Colonel Saw Chit Thu, a leader with the Burmese junta-tied Border Guard Force (BGF), alongside two other individuals, incurred sanctions from the UK last Friday. The other two are Chinese investor She Zhijiang and Colonel Saw Min Min Oo, a primary leader under Saw Chit Thu.

The sanctions link back to their alleged involvement in the recently established Shwe Kokko town in Kayin (previously Karen) State. This decision comes as a response to the severe accusations related to human trafficking, forced labor, and infringements on human rights against the two.

Cracking Down on Fraud Farms

On Friday, the UK unveiled the joint sanctions against Saw Chit Thu and the others. These restrictions were implemented in response to the exposure of nine individuals and five companies involved in internet-based “fraud farms” located in Cambodia, Laos, and Myanmar. It has been widely documented that the workers of those operations are victims of human trafficking.

The sanctions mean an asset freeze that prevents anyone from the participating country from dealing with the economic or financial resources of the sanctioned individual(s). In this case, it also comes with a travel ban that prevents the sanctioned individuals from traveling to or through the participating countries.

An official statement from the UK explained that Saw Chit Thu and the other two have been implicated as accomplices or beneficiaries of human trafficking in the operations of Shwe Kokko. The trio, with assistance from others, forced their victims into slave labor and allegedly routinely subjected them to torture, physical abuse, and various forms of exploitation.

The United Nations has estimated that as many as 120K individuals in Myanmar face similar conditions of forced labor. At least another 100K in Cambodia are also victims of human trafficking.

Shwe Kokko Survives Attempts to Shut it Down

The Shwe Kokko Project is a collaboration between Chit Lin Myaing Co and Yatai International Holding Group, a company registered in Hong Kong. Chit Lin Myaing Co allegedly belongs to the BGF, with Saw Chit Thu serving as its highest-ranking executive.

Saw Chit Thu and his border guards are reported to significantly benefit from the operation, which has gained a notorious reputation in Southeast Asia due to its connections with Chinese criminals. Apart from its involvement in human trafficking, labor exploitation, online fraud, and gambling, the operation presents itself as a major revenue stream for the BGF officer.

Last year, Thai police arrested She Zhijiang in Bangkok. His apprehension was triggered by a foreign warrant accusing him of managing an internet-based casino.

In addition to his involvement with Shwe Kokko, he allegedly has deep involvement in several controversial ventures in other countries, as well as in Cambodia’s gambling industry. Despite the arrest, Shwe Kokko remains operational, as highlighted by previous comments by the BGF.

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Brazil Gambling Regulation Vote Rescheduled for December 12

brazil-regulation-pushed-to-12-december-The Brazilian Senate has decided to postpone the vote on the bill that would regulate the gambling sector in the country for Tuesday 12 December after it had originally been scheduled to take place on 6 December.

The delay means that the bill has less and less chances of being fully approved this year. The vote was postponed due to a lack of quorum in the Brazilian Senate, the minimum number of senators needed to vote was not met and it was not possible for the vote to go ahead.

Bill 3,626 was approved by Brazil’s Economic Affairs Commission a couple of weeks ago and everybody expected the Senate to follow suit without too much hassle, but that has not been the case as the vote was first rescheduled to the 29th of November as more than 100 amendments were added to the original bill.

Moreover, the delay was probably due to the fact that fifteen senators were unavailable for the vote as they were attending the United Nations Climate Summit in the United Arab Emirates. That summit is not over yet, it continues until early next week and the December 12 vote might be affected as well.

The vote on the gambling regulation bill requires a qualified quorum because the proposal does not benefit from consensus in the Senate. This means that if senators that are in favor of the legislative proposal can’t attend the vote, then the approval of the bill might be compromised.

If the December 12 vote is postponed as well, and that possibility seems quite likely, then the bill would probably not come into effect for a few months. That is because from 23 December until 2 February 2024 the Brazilian parliament will be in recess. That delay could have a big impact because if the bill is not approved by the end of 2023, the resources needed for its implementation cannot be included in the 2024 budget by the government.

If the Brazilian Senate would be able to approve the bill on Tuesday, then the matter would advance to the Chamber of Deputies, which would have to discuss the bill and the amendments before voting on it as well. But the Chamber of Deputies would have just over one week to decide on the bill before the recess.

Moving Closer

The Brazilian gaming industry stands firmly behind the bill and is hopeful that it would be approved sooner rather than later. Luiz Felipe Maia, founding partner of Brazilian law firm Maia Yoshiyasu Advogados, declared himself confident that regulation would be in place before too long and said that the country is getting “very close to the approval of the bill.” Maya also said that players would be the ones to benefit the most from the regulation.

The Brazilian government is counting on the bill to supplement the revenues for the state because it would impose a license fee for casino and betting operators which is expected to bring 30 million Brazilian Reais to the state coffers (around 6 million U.S. dollars). Moreover, the state expects to collect around 1.6 billion Brazilian Reais from taxes from the gambling sector.

Neil Montgomery, founder and managing partner of Brazilian law firm Montgomery & Associados, declared himself skeptical regarding the bill’s chances to be approved before the parliamentary recess. If the bill does get approved by the Chamber of Deputies, then it would have to receive one more final approval from the office of President Lula.

Source: “Brazil gambling regulation vote delayed to 12 December“. iGaming Business. December 7, 2023.

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