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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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Greenberg Traurig Forms Video Game and Esports Group: Team To Address Legal Needs of Clients in Billion-Dollar+ Industry

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Global law firm Greenberg Traurig, LLP has harnessed the collective competitive video gaming, or esports, experience of a core group of attorneys, to create a multi-office, cross-practice team that can serve the legal needs of clients involved in the billion-dollar-plus industry. Greenberg Traurig’s newly established  Video Game and Esports Group will be headed by Steve Walkowiak and P. William Stark, litigation shareholders in the firm’s Dallas office.

The new group, founded with approximately 20 attorneys from across the firm, will leverage the firm’s deep industry knowledge in several areas, including emerging technology, intellectual property, corporate and securities, stadium development, media rights, and litigation. The Video Game and Esports Group will also draw upon the experience of Greenberg Traurig’s Global Gaming and Sports Law Practices to address the industry’s many facets.

“This type of cross-pollination enables the firm to provide tailored solutions while proactively navigating opportunities or challenges that can arise,” Stark said.

The group currently represents esports teams and game developers across a multitude of legal needs, ranging from governmental regulation and antitrust to employment and policy initiatives.

Esports is estimated to be a billion-dollar industry and growing,” Walkowiak said. “As the business and legal landscape of this exciting industry continues to evolve, our goal is to expand on what we can offer clients with a broad range of experience and resources leveraging our expansive knowledge with this industry specific focus.”

Esports involves multiplayer video gaming played competitively for spectators, typically by professional gamers. According to published reports, the industry recently experienced a resurgence, thanks to faster online streaming capabilities, big-name investors, and a global audience that continues to grow into the hundreds of millions daily.

The relocation of world-famous esports teams to major cities across the United States is also reported to be spurring development of new startups and large-scale real estate projects. In November, the city of ArlingtonTexas opened a $10 million, 100,000-square-foot facility called Esports Stadium Arlington—making it one of the largest esports stadiums in the U.S.

Stark said that he believes “the legal needs of clients are dynamic, and it is important for the firm to be adaptive and strategic in how we solve those needs. Adding a video game and esports group allows us to draw from our existing expertise and develop viable solutions for clients involved in this sector.”

About Greenberg Traurig: Greenberg Traurig, LLP (GT) has more than 2,000 attorneys in 38 offices in the United StatesLatin AmericaEuropeAsia and the Middle East. GT has been recognized for its philanthropic giving, was named the largest firm in the U.S. by Law360 in 2017 and is among the Top 20 on the 2018 Am Law Global 100. Web: www.gtlaw.com Twitter: @GT_Law.


Source: European Gaming Media

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Tom Horn Gaming enters Serbia with Balkan Bet

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Tom Horn Gaming has announced it is now live in Serbia’s regulated market with one of its biggest operators, Balkan Bet.

The provider will supply Balkan Bet with its highly popular titles, including blockbusters 243 Crystal Fruits and Book of Spells as well as more recent releases like Frozen Queen and Wild Weather.

Ondrej Lapides, Tom Horn Gaming CEO, said: “Going live with Balkan Bet is another milestone in our mission to tap into regulated markets and this partnership is in line with our strategy to continue our expansion. We’re positive that Serbian players will enjoy our content and our games will find a new dedicated audience that will keep on coming back for more high-quality entertainment we offer.”

Anja Kablar Crnoglavac, Operations Manager at Balkan Bet added: “Tom Horn Gaming has cemented its reputation as one of the most reliable and innovative igaming software providers in the industry, and we’re delighted to have rolled out their portfolio of superb video slots. We’re certain their games will prove a hit with all Balkan Bet’s players.”

Now licensed in multiple jurisdictions, Tom Horn Gaming continues a period of strong commercial growth, delivering quality content to leading operators and aggregators around the world. The industry experts will be able to see their latest products and services at ICE on stand N7-410 in London in February 2019.

 

 

About Tom Horn Gaming

Tom Horn Gaming is an omni-channel software supplier with a rich portfolio of casino games. This includes an extensive collection of cross-platform video slots, available on mobile, desktop and terminal. Their content boasts a multitude of features and promotional tools, as well as a wide variety of themes. It also offers eye-catching graphics and engaging maths models, which have been carefully developed to suit players in international markets. The company’s considerable experience in both the online and land-based environment, allows them to deliver highly-engaging and commercially successful content that players want to play. Tom Horn holds licences in the UK and Malta. For more information visit: www.tomhorngaming.com


Source: European Gaming Media

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Increasing Millennial Presence in the Marketplace is Driving the Digital Payment Market Growth

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Payments by cash are slowly fading as the emergence of digital, or cashless payment options, are quickly being adopted by consumers. Industry leaders are heavily investing into digital payments because of their convenience and technology-supported infrastructure. Consumers can easily make payments on their mobile devices at anytime and anywhere. With the growth of the market, consumers now have many payment solutions to choose from, whether its bank cards, net banking, e-wallets or mobile in-store applications. Digital payments are also much more secure, especially now that tech companies are building software to improve security. According to data compiled by Mordor Intelligence, the global digital payments market was valued at USD 2.89 Trillion in 2017 and is expected to reach USD 6.49 Trillion by 2023. Additionally, the market is projected to grow at a CAGR of 13.7% during the forecast period from 2018 to 2023. The market is also being accelerated by the increasing adoption of mobile smart devices that support digital payment platforms, which is primarily being driven by millennials. Glance Technologies Inc. (OTC: GLNNF), PayPal Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ: PYPL), Total System Services, Inc. (NYSE: TSS), Fiserv, Inc. (NASDAQ: FISV), Worldpay, Inc. (NYSE: WP)

Millennials currently account for approximately 27% of the global population. Technology is heavily integrated into their lives, as nearly 90% of millennials own or use a smartphone on a day-to-day basis. The group is identified to be heavily influenced by technology, while their buying habits are driven by instant gratification that smartphones, the internet and other modern conveniences provide. “What remains key is consumer choice. Smartphones have democratized how companies innovate and placed the consumer back at the heart of the development process. People want a frictionless experience, taking the path of least resistance, just as long as they can remain secure,” said Bill Gajda, Global Head, Innovation & Strategic Partnerships at Visa. “Millennials will continue to drive mobile money management and payments. More than nine in ten (91%) predict that they will be using their mobile devices for financial purposes in three years’ time, far above the national average of 72%.”

Glance Technologies Inc. (OTCQB: GLNNF) is also listed on the Canadian Securities Exchange under the ticker (CSE: GET). Earlier last week, the Company announced that, “it has entered into a strategic alliance and referral agreement with Merchant Advance Capital Limited Partnership (“Merchant Advance Capital”). Merchant Advance Capital provides funding to small and medium-sized businesses by purchasing a specified percentage of future receivables.

David Gens, CEO of Merchant Advance Capital commented: ‘We are proud to be partnering with Glance, a company that shares our values of innovation and use of technology in providing financial services. Together, we can provide Canada’s most convenient financing solutions.’

Under the terms of the Strategic Alliance Agreement, Glance and Merchant Advance Capital will collaboratively market and promote each other’s businesses through their respective marketing and sales channels. Under the terms of the Referral Agreement, Glance will be paid a fee for each transaction that Merchant Advance Capital closes from a Glance generated lead.

A significant emerging sector of the economy is made up of freelancers and small businesses. Glance recently launched its Glance PayMe mobile POS solution providing freelancers and small businesses with a secure, low-fee processing solution without long delays in getting paid. Small businesses often have difficulty obtaining funding from traditional banks. Through this new partnership, small businesses operating on the Glance platforms may now be eligible to receive financing in as little as one to three business days.

Desmond Griffin, CEO of Glance commented: ‘We see Merchant Advance Capital as the perfect partner for our new Glance PayMe application. We are impressed by their innovative approach to financing small business, the application of technology to their approval and risk management processes and ability to quickly approve an application. We think their product is an excellent solution that can help our Glance merchants overcome seasonality challenges and expand and grow their businesses.’

Merchant Advance Capital is a national financial services company working with small and medium-sized businesses throughout Canada.”

PayPal Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ: PYPL), fueled by a fundamental belief that having access to financial services creates opportunity, is committed to democratizing financial services and empowering people and businesses to join and thrive in the global economy. PayPal Holdings, Inc. recently announced that it has completed its acquisition of Hyperwallet for approximately USD 400 Million. This transaction will strengthen PayPal’s payout capabilities and enhance PayPal’s ability to provide an integrated suite of payment solutions to ecommerce platforms and marketplaces around the world. Ecommerce platforms and marketplaces have been focused on creating frictionless experiences for sellers to accept payments from buyers – an area where PayPal and Braintree have really innovated, powering many of the world’s largest and most noteworthy marketplaces,” said Bill Ready, Chief Operating Officer, PayPal. “We look forward to working with Brent and the Hyperwallet team to strengthen our platform with advanced payout capabilities as we build on our aspiration to serve the digital economy with a full operating system for commerce.”

Total System Services, Inc. (NYSE: TSS) is a leading global payments provider, offering seamless, secure and innovative solutions across the payments spectrum – for issuers, merchants and consumers. TSYS recently announced that it had signed a long-term contract extension with Regions Bank to continue providing processing services for the bank’s consumer and small business credit card portfolios. As part of the new agreement, TSYS will also begin providing processing services for Regions’ commercial credit card portfolio, and will support the bank’s commercial ePayables offering through TSYS’ Virtual Payment Precept (VPP) platform – a strategic virtual card payables solution for B2B payments. TSYS’ VPP enables the generation of secure, virtual, single-use account information in real-time with more control over account and transaction parameters. It reduces risk, improves operational efficiency and makes it easier for both accounts payable and accounts receivable to reconcile transactions. Virtual cards replace primary account numbers on physical purchasing cards, making them a flexible, secure payment method that allows businesses to place strict limits around what each virtual account number can be used for when making a purchase. “We have worked with TSYS for many years and are very familiar with the company’s commitment to innovation and customer service, as we expand our relationship into the commercial card business,” said Brett Couch, Head of Regions Procurement and Corporate Real Estate. “We’re excited to have new opportunities to grow that part of our business using TSYS’ proven payables platform and drawing on their experience in the commercial card market.”

Fiserv, Inc. (NASDAQ: FISV) enables clients worldwide to create and deliver financial services experiences in step with the way people live and work today. Fiserv, Inc. and QuotePro recently announced that they are facilitating faster, next-day availability of funds and helping mitigate security concerns for businesses that accept payments in cash. QuotePro Kiosks are the latest generation of self-service machines that can provide a complete cashiering solution to businesses that accept payments via cash, check, credit and debit card. QuotePro data from more than 100 kiosks at businesses ranging from auto dealers to utilities and insurance companies, shows that when given a choice between cash, check, credit and debit card, 70% of consumers paying at these kiosks are choosing cash. “For many retail businesses, cash is the dominant form of payment and innovations in self-service and technology help reduce the burden of managing cash payments,” said Pat Korb, President, Financial & Risk Management Solutions, Fiserv. “Faster access to funds, reduced overhead and enhanced security are key benefits for businesses, and consumers appreciate the flexibility and convenience to pay in the way they prefer.”

Worldpay, Inc. (NYSE: WP) is a leading payments technology company with unique capability to power global omni-commerce. Worldpay, Inc. and Paysafe Group recently announced a new strategic partnership, with sights set on establishing an industry-leading standard in iGaming and Sports Betting digital payments acceptance and security in the United States (U.S.). The partnership will enable seamless transactions, reduce operating costs and allow universal payment acceptance, leveraging Worldpay’s deep sector expertise and optimized credit card processing, fast-fund payouts, and a range of treasury and payment solutions – alongside Paysafe’s proven online gambling and gaming digital payment options, including its popular NETELLER digital wallet and paysafecard, its award-winning online cash solution. “As a leading payments provider for iGaming companies, state lotteries and land-based casinos, Worldpay is excited about the enhancements this partnership will bring when it comes to maximizing payment acceptance, enabling new digital wallets, as well as minimizing fraud risk and lowering cost,” said Shane Happach, EVP, Head of Global Enterprise eCommerce for Worldpay. “Our combined strengths and capabilities will simplify payments for gaming operators, while also continuing to show our attentiveness to responsible gaming and our mission to protect the integrity of every transaction.”

Source: FinancialBuzz.com 


Source: European Gaming Media

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