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Exclusive Interview with Ivan Sagál (Managing Partner of Bird & Bird offices in the Czech Republic and Slovakia)

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While our team is gearing up for our event in Prague, I have managed to catch up with Ivan Sagál, who is a Managing Partner of Bird & Bird offices in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. You can meet Ivan in person by attending the second edition of Prague Gaming Summit which will be held on the 29th of March at Andel’s by Vienna House Prague. You can find more details here.

With this occasion, I would also like to thank you for following my interview series and for sharing these information with your colleagues and partners. If you would like to be featured in an upcoming interview, please send me an e-mail to reka.szalo@europeangaming.eu and I will happily get back to you!

Thank you very much for accepting our invitation and answering the questions. You have more than 20 years of experience in the commercial, corporate and financial law, advising clients from across a number of sectors including lottery & gaming, telecommunications, media & entertainment and financial services. Why did you choose the gaming industry?

Ivan: It is an interesting question. If answered lightly, it is rather that the gaming industry chose me than the other way round. One of my main areas of focus since the beginning of my career has always been the transactional work – that is helping international and local companies expand their business through acquisitions, joint ventures, strategic commercial contracts and various other forms of business deals, as well as in getting the necessary funding for those deals. For many years, companies with business interests in the gaming industry have been among my clients, and naturally, when you want to provide a high-quality expert advice in a transaction involving a gaming business, you need to understand the strategic commercial issues that gaming industry is facing as well as the regulatory legal framework. And when you initially get this insight into the industry, it is just logical you keep yourself abreast of subsequent industry developments (whether they relate to business, technology or regulation) as you never know when another gaming client would be seeking your support based on positive references from your previous clients.

The company you work at, Bird & Bird is a leading global law firm with a strong focus on the businesses sectors where digitalization and technology plays a key role, including gaming industry. What is the focus on in your work at the company; what are the key values of this company?

Ivan: One of the main strategy pillars of Bird & Bird has always been excellence in client service achieved through a strong sector focus. We believe that what differentiates the top legal advisors from the good ones is their deep understanding of the particular industry sector in which their client operates which must be in addition to their excellent legal skills. Many of our lawyers have additional professional background. This is thanks to their previous career in the particular industry or thanks to their additional technical education. Another key element of our strategy is our international reach, meaning that when clients come to us through any of our international offices, they get the same level of service, whether in terms of project management, legal expertise or the sector knowledge. We achieved that through a strong emphasis on the ‘one firm’ approach in internal procedures, knowledge sharing as well as cross-border client projects.

Please tell us more about the services the company offers especially those which are connected to gaming, gambling.

Ivan: Bird & Bird is a full service global law firm, providing advice in all main areas of business law, including Corporate/M&A, Banking & Finance, Dispute Resolution, Employment, Intellectual Property, Privacy & Data Protection, Outsourcing, Real Estate, Tax etc. We have developed an unparalleled expertise in a number of industry sectors, especially those based on, or largely being re-shaped by, the new technologies and digitalization. Naturally, gaming industry is at the forefront of this change, given its rapid development towards the digital era, and we help gaming companies adopting to new regulatory challenges as well as expanding their reach to new markets. This involves advising in all aspects of licensing procedures (whether in setting up businesses or updating licensing scope due to new legislative changes), sorting out ad hoc regulatory issues (whether due to the probes or inspections by the authorities or new business ideas crossing the regulatory borderline), analyzing and outlining solutions in situations where several other regulatory frameworks overlap with gaming regulation (such as marketing and advertising rules, data protection/GDPR issues, payment services regulation under the PSD2 directive etc.), as well as all forms of transactional support – acquisitions, joint ventures, strategic commercial contracts, new technology deployments etc.

You have more than 20 years of experience in the business. Will you please tell your opinion about the European gaming industry and also about the gaming industry of the Czech Republic?

Ivan: In my view the gaming and betting industry as a whole is one of the fastest-changing industry sectors of the last decade. I am fascinated by the speed of this change, which to a large extent is due to a rapid development of new technologies and moving the user experience into the online world. What this brings, of course, is a totally new perspective for the national regulators, who historically have been very much used to control the domestic playgrounds tightly without giving much consideration to what was happening elsewhere in the world. With the digitalization of the business and the online environment, the visible borderlines are suddenly gone and of course the largest international players are somehow disrupting the status quo in smaller markets. When you add to the mixture the general principle of freedom to provide services under EU legislation and on the other hand the commonly accepted risks of unregulated (or under-regulated) gaming or betting on the society, plus the difficulties of the tax authorities to track or allocate the income from such online activities based on its geographical source, it is clear that everyone involved is facing many uncertainties. I still see, however, that in general the industry is doing well, whether Europe-wide or in our country, so apparently it is possible to adapt to the challenge and live well.

Last year the government of Czech Republic planned to restrict online bonuses and free bets, because they found alleged links between these promotions and problem gambling. What is the situation now concerning this issue?

Ivan: It is not that much about imposing new restrictions through e.g. a legislation amendment, but rather about a narrower vs. wider interpretation of the existing provisions of the new Czech gaming law by the regulator (Ministry of Finance). It is true that the regulator has issued a standpoint to certain forms of bonuses and free bets from the perspective of compliance with the general rules of Czech gaming law. This has been issued in August last year, so it is relatively fresh and is yet to be tested in the potential administrative proceedings (or later court proceedings) in a particular case. Also, it has to be mentioned that the standpoint does not automatically mark all forms of bonuses as illegal, it rather analyses the rationale and nature of the particular bonus in the light of legislation provisions and generally divides these bonuses in three categories – generally allowed, allowed if included in the pre-approved gaming plan or disallowed. However, the standpoint is not a generally binding law but rather just the guidance, and as such may be changed or overcome in the future.

How did this new situation, the restrictions affect the Czech gambling industry and what would be the solution for the future of this sector in your country?

Ivan: As already mentioned, the new Czech gaming law definitely changed the landscape of the industry locally, and generally imposed additional requirements on the compliance functions of all market players. Based on my initial observation, however, it definitely did not ”kill” the market (as was feared by many players before the enactment of the law) and it is still too fresh to analyze its deeper impacts on the industry as well as the society. In my view, however, the future of the Czech gambling would be very much inter-linked with whatever developments in more advanced jurisdictions (especially within the EU), both with respect to the further technology and digitalization development, as well as regulatory framework (including more unified interpretation and application of the general regulatory principles).

To meet Ivan in person, make sure you register and attend Prague Gaming Summit 2018, held on the 29th of March at Andel’s by Vienna House Prague.

Interviewee profile:

Ivan Sagál is a Managing Partner of Bird & Bird offices in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Bird & Bird is a leading global law firm with a strong focus on the businesses sectors where digitalization and technology plays a key role, including gaming industry.

Ivan has more than 20 years of experience in the commercial, corporate and financial law, advising clients from across a number of sectors including lottery & gaming, telecommunications, media & entertainment and financial services.

His team has been actively involved in advising various gaming companies from market leading national lotteries and gambling multinationals to small peer-2-peer gambling startups on a broad range of legal issues including gaming regulatory and licensing matters, legality of advertising of gaming products, data protection, compliance, regulatory aspects of consumer protection, competition, commercial, and transactional matters.

Ivan is a member of the Czech and Slovak Bar.


Source: European Gaming Media and Events

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Week 12 slot games releases

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Week 12/2019 slot games releasesReading Time: 4 minutes

 

It’s Friday already, so kick back and have a look at this week’s latest slot game releases!

 

We begin this week’s recap with Kalamba Games, who has delivered its latest stunning slot Hong Bao allowing players to open up the delights of the ancient Chinese tradition of the red envelope, which brings good luck and fortune. Hong Bao is exclusively distributed on the Relax Gaming platform via its Silver Bullet partner program. Alex Cohen, chief operating officer and co-founder at Kalamba Games, said: “Hong Baois a fantastic game with stacks of exciting new and familiar Kalamba features that are sure to have players thrilled and engaged.

 Kalamba Games’ Hong Bao

 

Betsoft Gaming sets the juice loose with its latest standout slot game, Fruit Bat Crazy. A new take on traditional cascading games, Fruit Bat Crazy allows players to build delicious combinations before smashing them in a single, seriously succulent splat.  In Fruit Bat Crazy, clusters of low-paying symbols always pop first, and symbols collapse on a combo-by-combo basis – so small wins will trigger their own cascades before big wins are calculated, increasing the chances of a deluge of delicious fruit.

 FRUIT BAT CRAZY-Betsoft

 

The nudge is king as NetEnt takes players deep into the jungle on a treasure hunt in search of ancient gold. There is more than meets the eye in Temple of Nudges™. Set among the exotic flora and fauna of a lush, verdant jungle, the 5×3 video slot with 243 betways combines nudges, symbol stacks and re-spins to deliver maximum excitement. “Nudges are a big favourite with players around the world and with us too, so we created a game that is all about nudges delivering great wins. The feeling we created when combining nudges with the re-spins, giving a chance for even longer nudges, is a pretty powerful one. Temple of Nudges™ will be a great and specifically crafted addition to our diverse and deep portfolio,” said Bryan Upton, NetEnt Director of Games.

 NetEnt’s Temple of Nudges

 

Greentube’s Home of Games keeps on getting better and better. The bar is about to be raised even higher with the addition of four of the most innovative casino games on the market enriching its portfolio, Jewels Match 3, Secret Trail Match 3, Sparkling Fruit and Jinxy Match 3. All four ground-breaking Match 3 titles will be available to B2B partners in the coming months. Match 3 games have opened a unique new casino game category of their own, combining the interactivity of a Match 3 game with the thrill of a classic slot.

Exceptional new casino game category broadens Greentube portfolio

 

Yggdrasil‘s latest casino slots gem, Dwarf Mine, tasks players to dig deep to discover hidden treasure and potentially massive wins. Throughout the game players are accompanied by a determined dwarf digger who uses his tunnelling machine to uncover underground valuables. His work is made simpler by drill-shaped Bonus symbols, which expand the reel set by revealing additional rows of symbols. Hitting three Bonus symbols during a single spin grows the reel set from 5×4 to 5×7 symbols and starts a Free Spins round with the enlarged reel set.

Yggdrasil - Dwarf Mine

 

Lightning Box has enhanced its partnership with leading UK operator William Hill after agreeing an exclusive omni-channel release of its latest title Lightning Leopard. The game was rolled out first on terminals in the bookmaker’s shops during ICE 2019, at the beginning of February, and will now be available for their online players for a special five-week period. Peter Causley, CEO of Lightning Box, said: “We have established a very good relationship with William Hill and it’s great to be able to launch Lightning Leopard exclusively both in their shops and online.“

Lightning Box - Lightning Leopard

 

Kalamba Games is adding a seasonal touch to its player favourite Mammoth Chase with an Easter egg hunt full of big wins to be discovered. Players can celebrate the holiday season with Mammoth Chase: Easter Edition which features traditional Easter characters and symbols such as bunnies, chickens and eggs. Mammoth Chase is one of Kalamba’s most popular slots, featuring stacked mammoth symbols that combine to award big wins, free spins with a frequent retrigger and multiplier wild symbols.

Kalamba Games’ Mammoth Chase gets Easter remake

 

iSoftBet, the market-leading online and mobile casino software provider, has released its latest blockbuster slot, the Egyptian themed Book of Immortals. The 5-reel, 10-line slot features classic characters from Egyptian mythology, such as feared God of the Dead Anubis, as well as a collection of fearsome gods and goddesses from Egypt’s fabled past. The lucky scarab symbol, covered with hieroglyphs, acts as a wild, with the Free Spins mode activated if three or more scarab symbols land on the reels simultaneously. As with all iSoftBet games, Book of Immortals is supported in both landscape and portrait modes when run on mobile devices and has a wide range of currency and language options.

iSoftBet - Book of Immortals


Source: European Gaming Media
This is a Syndicated News piece. Photo credits or photo sources can be found on the source article: Week 12 slot games releases

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IGT Extends Contract with Kansas Lottery for Providing INTELLIGEN™ System

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IGT Extends Contract with Kansas Lottery for Providing INTELLIGEN™ SystemReading Time: 1 minute

 

International Game Technology PLC, has signed a new three-year contract with the Kansas Lottery for providing its INTELLIGEN™ central computer system and services to monitor electronic gaming machines throughout the state. The new deal, an extension of the original central system services agreement awarded to IGT in 2008, will start on December 15, 2019 and end on December 14, 2022.

“We have leveraged more than 20 years of development expertise and knowledge gathering with gaming central system customers throughout the world to produce the INTELLIGEN system to ensure it’s equipped with the most advanced tools for our customers,” said Jay Gendron, IGT Chief Operating Officer, North America Lottery. “IGT and the Kansas Lottery have built a strong partnership since this contract began more than 10 years ago, and we’re pleased to be furthering this relationship by continuing to provide our advanced system to the nearly 5,000 electronic gaming machines in the state.”

“IGT’s INTELLIGEN system has helped the Kansas Lottery meet the objectives of operating our electronic gaming machines with the highest standards of integrity and security to benefit the state for the last 10 years,” said Stephen Durrell, Kansas Lottery Acting Executive Director “We look forward to continuing our relationship over the next few years.”


Source: European Gaming Media
This is a Syndicated News piece. Photo credits or photo sources can be found on the source article: IGT Extends Contract with Kansas Lottery for Providing INTELLIGEN™ System

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Rivers Casino Schenectady submits comment on legalising sports betting

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Rivers Casino Schenectady submits comment on legalising sports bettingReading Time: 1 minute

 

Rivers Casino & Resort Schenectady has submitted a comment on the New York State Gaming Commission’s proposed regulations for legalising sports betting in New York state. The regulations to authorise and regulate the conduct of sports wagering at the four commercial casinos licensed by the Gaming Commission, including Rivers Casino, are now open for public comment until May 20, 2019.

The following quote is from Rivers Casino & Resort Schenectady Acting General Manager, Justin Moore:

“We’re extremely pleased that sports betting regulations have been released for public comment and are looking forward to introducing one of the first licensed sports books in the state of New York at Rivers Casino & Resort Schenectady. It’s very exciting to be able to bring sports fans and sports bettors into the casino to place legal wagers for the first time.”


Source: European Gaming Media
This is a Syndicated News piece. Photo credits or photo sources can be found on the source article: Rivers Casino Schenectady submits comment on legalising sports betting

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