Skill Gaming Laws and Regulations by State and Country

Part
01
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Part
01

European Skill Gaming Laws-Part 2

The Netherlands, Poland, and Cyprus all have laws enacted that either regulate or disallow skills gaming and games of chance.

Netherlands

  • The primary legislation in force are the following: 1.) Betting and Gaming Act of 1964, 2.) Betting and Gaming Act of 1961, and 3.) Remote Gambling Act of 2019 (which is not currently in force but will be soon).
  • The approach taken in the Netherlands is that any betting, gambling, or skilled gaming is prohibited unless otherwise licensed.
  • Both the promotion of and the participation in unlicensed games of chance is prohibited by law.
  • The law states that a game only qualifies as a game of chance if the majority of general participants are able to exert a predominant influence on the selection of winners.
  • Holland Casino is the only land-based commercial establishment licensed for poker.
  • Secondary legislation include the Game of Chance Decree, Slot Machine Decree of 2000, Slot Machine Regulation of 2000, Decree on Games of Chance: Recruitment, Advertising, and Addiction, and Regulation on Games of Chance: Recruitment, Advertising, and Addiction.
  • Regulation on lotteries falling under "non-incidental games of chance" specifies that 50% of ticket sales must be given to good causes including health, international aid, and six other categories.

Poland

  • The primary law enacted in Poland and governing games of chance and skill is the Act on Gambling Games of 19 November 2009.
  • This law was originally passed through parliament in two days. A major overhaul to the law took effect in 2017. Changes include "a blocking mechanism restricting access to websites of unlicensed online gambling operators, as well as an obligation for payment services providers to cease providing these services to such operators, among other amendments."
  • Poland's Penal Code and Fiscal Penal Code detail taxes, fines, and other issues dealing with the violation of the Gambling Law.
  • Application of the Gambling Law is for both land-based and online games. Additionally, all online games of chance must abide by the "Act of 18 July 2002 on Providing Services through Electronic Means (E-Commerce Act) (Ustawa o świadczeniu usług drogą elektroniczną), which regulates all services provided online."
  • Similar to much of Europe, Poland has many bingo halls that are regulated similarly to the rest of the European Union.
  • Games that have no element of chance, and only require skills or knowledge on the part of the player, do not fall under the Gambling Law. However, the Minister of Finance is "authorized to issue on request decisions whether a particular game should be treated as a gambling game regulated by the Gambling Law."
  • The day to day supervision and enforcement of these games and laws is handled by the National Revenue Administration (NRA).
  • Since the reform of 2017, there have been no significant changes to the Gambling Law. "In the near future, several complaints concerning blacklisting of offshore gambling websites are expected to be considered by the courts, and the first appeal court judgments on this subject are also due."

Cyprus

  • Betting Law of 2019 — This law regulates land-based and online sports betting along with the powers and functioning of the National Betting Authority (NBA).
  • The Taxation of Horseracing Bets and Sweepstakes Law of 1973 regulates horse racing in Cyprus.
  • The Lottery Act regulates lotteries, bingo, and skilled competition. Only the state is allowed to perform large scale lotteries. Small-scale lotteries/bingo as a secondary event in the context of other non-profitable/charitable/festive events that are private are allowed under specific conditions.
  • The Certain Games of Chance Law of 2018 allows the NBA to regulate the licensing of games of chance.
  • The Games Machines, Skill Machines, and Entertainment Machines Law of 1996 prohibits any game of chance, betting, gambling, lottery, bingo, etc through machines.
  • The NBA is currently in the process of drafting new legislation which will overhaul the Betting Law of 2012. This reform will grant new powers and licenses to the NBA and aims to position Cyprus as a "gaming hub."
  • There are also regulations regarding Player Protection which are in the final stages of drafting.
Part
02
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Part
02

European Skill Gaming Laws-Part 1

Malta, Italy and Denmark are three countries in Europe that have laws which regulate skill gaming. Malta is considered the most progressive among the three countries in this domain, because it has enacted specialized Skill Games Regulations that regulate innovative forms of skill gaming such as fantasy and e-sports.

Malta

  • Malta has regulated skill gaming under the Skill Games Regulations act that came into force on January 24, 2017.
  • The Skill Games Regulations apply to all "skill games organised in Malta, provided from the territory of Malta or promoted or offered to persons in Malta".
  • Under the Skill Games Regulations, the Malta Gaming Authority can issue public rulings to designate certain games that could benefit from "additional regulatory supervision because of any additional risk they may pose to consumers" as "controlled skill games".
  • For example, the Malta Gaming Authority issued a ruling that placed fantasy sports under the category of controlled skill games.
  • All providers of controlled skill games are required to acquire a controlled skill games license from the Malta Gaming Authority. "A controlled skill games licence may be a licence to provide a service for the purposes of engaging with end consumers, or a licence to provide a supply, that is, in a business-to-business capacity."
  • More recently, Malta enacted a New Gaming Act that came into force on July 1, 2018. The New Gaming Act is a law that supersedes the Skill Games Regulations act.
  • The regulatory framework covers games of chance, games of chance and skill, as well as skill games. It is not oriented towards specific products/sectors like skills games. Instead, "the provisions regulating one type of activity are spread throughout the main act".
  • Law experts do not expect changes to the New Gaming Act in the near future, because the feedback to the new law from both supplier and consumer advocates has been overwhelmingly positive.

Italy

  • Agenzia delle Dogane e dei Monopoli (ADM), Italy's Customs and Monopolies Agency, regulates gambling in the county, including skill gaming.
  • Games of skill, games of chance with fixed odds, and card games, not organized in tournaments, are regulated under the ADM Director Decree dated January 10, 2011. This only applies to online skill games. Only four land-based casinos are currently permitted in Italy: San Remo, Saint Vincent, Campione d'Italia and Venice. These casinos operate under special laws dating back to the 1930s and are regulated by the respective local authorities.
  • As for gaming machines, only skill-without-payment machines (pool tables, jukeboxes, table football, pinball etc.) are allowed, and are subject to no particular restrictions. Amusement-with-prize (AWP) machines are explicitly prohibited from offering "poker or games that are played in the same way as poker."
  • There have been no recent updates or amendments to the regulations and the only change expected in the near future is an increase in taxes, specifically for gaming machines as outlined above. The current tax rate is 20% for games of skill, and that rate is expected to stay the same.

Denmark

  • Skill games in Denmark are regulated under the Danish Gambling Act that came into force on January 22, 2016.
  • The Danish Gambling Act defines a class of "combination games" as "activities where a participant has a chance to win a prize, and where the odds are based on a combination of skill and chance".
  • The Danish Gambling Authority issues licenses for combination games. There are three types of games that do not require a license. These are games without a stake, but with the opportunity of winnings; games with a stake, but without the opportunity of winnings; and games with a stake and winnings, where there is no element of chance.
  • The legal status of both online and land-based gambling has been largely unchanged in recent years.
  • The only changes expected in the near future are increases in license fees, which are expected to take place on January 1, 2020. The increased fees will contribute to the Danish Gambling Authority's budget for preventing gambling addiction.
Part
03
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Part
03

US Skill Gaming Laws-Part 2

Three other states with heavy regulations on skill gaming include Ohio, Colorado, and Iowa. These states have some differences with their laws, but all curtail how and what prizes are given out. These points and more are detailed below.

Ohio

  • Name of the law: Casino Control Law and 109:4-3-31 — Skill-based amusement games.
  • Recent updates/amendments:
    • The Casino Control Law was amended to give the Ohio Casino Control Commission greater jurisdiction over skill-based games. It went into effect in 2018.
    • Since 2015, the commission developed rules and license fees for games.
    • The opportunity to win a prize must be based on the player's skill rather than a chance event.
    • The new rules also state that prizes can be awarded, but it cannot be cash, gift cards, free games on games of chance, lottery tickets, bingo, tobacco, alcohol, or firearms.
    • The value of the merchandise that is awarded cannot exceed $10, but combining prizes is fine.
  • Possible future changes and risks:
    • Some counties are planning to curtail some skill gaming even further. Plain's Board of Zoning Commission held a public hearing about their plans to restrict skill games to certain areas.
    • Since the law has recently been passed, there is no other indication that there are any risks to the law.

Colorado

  • Name of the law: Colorado Revised Statute 16-13-303, Colorado Revised Statute 16-13-303 and HB-18 1234
  • Recent updates/amendments:
    • The bill was signed into law in June 2018.
    • This bill, HB-18 1234, was pushed through the chamber as three people were arrested and charged with 430 counts of operating illegal gambling operations at three different locations.
    • The bill clarifies simulated gaming activity. It states that a gambling device can be categorized as a device that combines chance and skill. It also states that a user can't be paid indirectly or in a form to be used in another gambling device.
    • This bill amends Colorado Statutes 16-13-303 and 18-10.5-103.
    • The law threatened to shut down "Games of Skill" parlors but some parlors have found provisions in which to operate. Some codes with which they had to comply with include below $25 in prizes such as silver bars and ingots since cash and gift cards were banned.
  • Possible future changes and risks:
    • A little over a year when the state clamped down hard on gambling and skills gaming, Proposition DD, a bill to legalize sports betting, was voted in favor for by the public.
    • Even though there has been no chatter about possible changes to the Colorado Statutes that regulate games of skill, a referendum on a major gambling bill so soon after reforms to skills gaming could mean more changes are possible by the next election in 2020.

Iowa

  • Name of the law: Iowa Code 99B
  • Recent updates/amendments
    • In Iowa, games are defined as skill-based where the player is directing or throwing objects to designated areas or targets, "or by maneuvering water or an object into a designated area, or by maneuvering a dragline device to pick up particular items, or by shooting a gun or rifle."
    • This law is very precise and invalidates many games that are not darts, shooting, ball, and other carnival games.
    • Prizes must be merchandise that cannot exceed a value of $10,000. Cash prizes are not legal for skill games.
  • Possible future changes and risks:
    • There is no bill or any chatter about future amendments to skill games. But seeing that the state's neighbor Wyoming is looking to place stricter regulations on skill games and the news that Iowa made over a billion in revenue since its new sports betting law earned the state over a billion dollars in revenue, it could decide to relax or maintain current skill game laws.
Part
04
of four
Part
04

US Skill Gaming Laws-Part 1

Four US states that have laws in place to regulate skill gaming are Florida, Arizona, Connecticut, and Tennessee.


Florida

  • In Florida, skill gaming is prohibited.
  • The law is part of the state's 2012 Statutes. It is included in section XLVI (Crimes), Chapter 849 (Gambling).
  • The state defines an illegal game of skill as "a game in which the player does not control the outcome of the game through skill or a game where the outcome is determined by factors not visible, known, or predictable to the player."
  • Also, the act of gambling is explained as follows, "Whoever plays or engages in any game at cards, keno, roulette, faro or other game of chance, at any place, by any device whatever, for money or other thing of value, shall be guilty."
  • While there were no relevant updates or amendments and there are no plans to introduce them in the future, in 2018, several bills were proposed to legalize daily fantasy sports. However, none were passed.

Arizona

  • Skillz is not available in Arizona because of the state regulations related to gambling.
  • Games of skill and chance are regulated by laws included in the state's Revised Statutes, Title 13, Chapter 33 (Gambling).
  • The state defines gambling as an "act of risking or giving something of value for the opportunity to obtain a benefit from a game or contest of chance or skill or a future contingent event."
  • Specific games of skill or chance may be allowed only if the outcome is controlled by the players, their sole goal is entertainment, and the participants are active during the process.
  • Since the formation of the gaming laws in the 1980s, the only major changes concerned tribal gambling. Also, there are recent discussions about legalizing sports betting, but there is nothing specific to skill gaming.

Connecticut

  • Like in Arizona, Skillz is not available in Connecticut because of the state's gambling laws.
  • Gambling law is a part of the 2012 Connecticut General Statutes, Title 53, Chapter 946 (Offences Against Public Policy). It can be found in section 53-278a (Gambling).
  • According to the state, ""gambling" means risking any money, credit, deposit or other thing of value for gain contingent in whole or in part upon lot, chance or the operation of a gambling device, including the playing of a casino gambling game such as blackjack, poker, craps, roulette or a slot machine."
  • Any form of gambling, which is any game in which chance is a factor, is only allowed if the state licenses it.
  • However, the state's officials say that they don't authorize or license online gambling.
  • Earlier this year, there was a bill proposal that would allow more forms of gambling, including online gaming, which could affect skill gaming regulations. Two of the tribes present in the state would be the only ones that gain new rights.
  • However, the bill wasn't passed. The discussion will be resumed in February, but the main topic will be sports betting.

Tennessee

  • Skillz with prize money is not allowed in Tennessee due to the state's skill gaming regulations.
  • Gaming laws are included under Tennessee Code Section 4-36-101 et seq. and 39-17-501 et seq.
  • The state defines gambling as "risking anything of value for a profit whose return is to any degree contingent on chance, or any games of chance associated with casinos, including, but not limited to, slot machines, roulette wheels, etc."
  • There are very few forms of gambling that are legal in Tennessee, including online and physical. While there are skill gaming exemptions, the win can't depend on chance.
  • The only recent or planned change to the law was 2019 sports betting legislation.

Sources
Sources

From Part 04