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SiGMA

Online-only licences lead to uneven playing field – Lithuanian corruption body

Posted:: Oct 06, 2021 15:48 Category: Europe , Online , Regulatory , Posted by Jeremy Micallef

In Lithuania, the anti-corruption body has advised against creating a “more favourable” environment for online operators than for their land-based equivalents through a new licencing

The Special Investigation Service of the Republic of Lithuania analysed the proposed amendments to the country’s gambling law, and a related draught amendment to the tax laws of Lithuania. Last month, Lithuania’s parliament, the Seimas, passed the measure at first reading.

“The completeness, consistency and legal resistance of the legal regulation” was the goal of the exercise.

In the assessment of Bill 643, which provides for specific online licences, the service stated that the bill might create unequal playing fields by not requiring online businesses to partners with land-based licence holders.

“In our view, it is considered that the project creates a more favorable environment with less administrative conditions for remote gambling operators than for other types of terrestrial gambling operators,” it said.

“It noted that the bill would grant online licences with an indefinite term, while land-based licences last only five years.”

The report also pointed out that online licensees would require the consent of the Gambling Supervisory Service solely to operate under the new system. On the other hand, land-based licensees also require local authorities to approve it.

The assessment observed another distinction in terms of rules between different fields of gaming, stating that lotteries may give instant-winning online games comparable to online slots without restrictions such as the €0.50 maximum stake or winning restrictions that exist for slots.

More details are necessary for the legislation, the service added. Noting that the courts have shown that secondary laws can only complete the specifics outlined in the main law, the law must contain information on criteria used to award an online gambling licence. Furthermore, the legislation should provide specifics on situations where a licence may be suspended or revoked by the regulator.

The anti-corruption bureau also says the law should contain more responsible gambling regulations, which will prevent greater dangers due to the growing availability of online gambling.

In conclusion, a further remark was provided by the Special Investigation Service, which noted that the bill would do little to control social gaming. The worry is that unlimited amounts of money can be spent through here, working around the scope of the bill.

The legal Department of the Chancellery of the Seimas also evaluated the proposals. However, its comments modified, for the most part, the phrasing to increase clarity in specific areas. The legal office also verified that, rather than a retroactive tax, the new one-time rate suggested as part of the changes would be seen favourably.

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