Serbia’s gaming trade association JAKTA reports progress in the countries bid to legislate and introduce an online gambling regime following the Governments ISP ban on 70 black-listed foreign sites earlier this year (see previous InfoPowa).
The Serbian Government is said to be close to publishing a new draft pertaining to technical requirements for online gaming along with the launch of a tender calling for bids from state-appointed test gaming laboratories.
JAKTA, president Mirjana Acimovic said at the IV Gaming Congress in Belgrade this week: While Serbian operators are expecting new regulations regarding technical issues for online gaming, their regulators welcome this event for new ideas and best practices.

In related news, Serbia’s Association of Gambling Providers (AGP) are disputing a deal between online sports betting operator Sportingbet and the State Lottery of Serbia (SLS), saying it violates Serbian laws.

Existing laws are grossly violated, and local companies unfairly pushed aside, said an AGP statement. SLS has chosen a foreign partner, company of questionable reputation, in a completely non-transparent way without publicly open competition thus making it impossible for local companies to participate.

AGP expects that competent authorities will urgently stop the illegal business on the Internet, that the new government will review all contested actions and through consistent respect for the law ensure equal treatment of all participants of the market.

Also, we hope that Serbian citizens will be protected from the influence of foreign firms and a variety of interest groups with questionable reputation, and that equity will be protected because it is a basic condition for economic prosperity of every country.

Otherwise, there will be a complete breakdown of the domestic market which will only benefit certain interest groups at the expense of all citizens of Serbia .

ISP to block 70 illegal Gambling operators

The Serbian government, which late last years introduced an online gambling licensing regime, has started moving against foreign operators accessing the Serbian market.

The local newspaper Blic reports that the Serbian Gaming Board has demanded that the eastern European nation’s main Internet Service Providers block 70 blacklisted foreign sites that includes Betfair, Bwin, Bet365, Mybet, Skybet, 888, William Hill, Bet-at-home and Ladbrokes – all allegedly operating without a Serbian license.

It is understood that thus far the demand has not received a response as the ISPs are consulting with their legal advisers. There could be complications; Vojislav Rodic , a director of " INet " and a former president of Association of Internet Providers , has claimed that directives such as this must be obeyed only if they have been approved by the judiciary.

The new licensing measure, introduced in November last year, appears to be in need of tweaking due to its lack of legislative precision. At present only the national lottery is authorised to operate an online gaming site and issue licenses.

The Board has additionally threatened to seek the cooperation of other regulators if the illegal activity continues

Aleksandar Vulovir, a director of the Serbian Gaming Board, is quoted as saying: We had to prevent access to illegal gambling in order to have a regulated market. Players who operate within the law and from within the state can reap benefits.

Currently the provision of games of chance via the internet is one of the most profitable industries and it is estimated that the revenue will double by 2013. It is simply wrong and no longer legal, that the state does not collect a penny of the millions circulating within this industry.

Back in November, the introduction of the legalisation measure was met with significant resistance, but it was pushed through with the support of JAKTA, a trade association representing Serbian gaming operators, land based casinos, slot machine and gambling equipment manufacturers.

JAKTA president Mirjana Acimovic revealed at the time that the association had carried out careful research and had presented compelling evidence for legalisation to the country’s politicians.
The association proposed that new online gambling licenses be valid for up to 10 years.

History of Legal Serbia Online Gambling

JAKTA, a trade association representing the interests of Serbian gaming operators, authorised technicians and producers of slot machines and equipment for games of chance, was in self-congratulatory mode this week following news that the government is to go the regulatory route on internet gambling.

The association has lobbied vigorously with the government and the Serbian Gaming Board for legalisation, leading to a new law being passed late November that imposes regulation as the government moves to tackle illegal operators and suspicions that money laundering may be associated with them.

We are very optimistic, said JAKTA president Mirjana Acimovic. We can see that our conscientious work in gathering the relevant facts about gaming markets in the former Yugoslavia and the rest of Europe has been worthwhile. We compared different national regulatory models and collaborated with relevant partners such as testing laboratories, reputable companies and associations.

JAKTA put a lot of effort into lobbying the government for the creation of a well-regulated gaming market.

Aleksandar Vulovic, director of the Serbian Gaming Board commented: The new law will lead to the opening up of the online gaming market.

He went on to outline three important aspects of the new online gambling law, saying the first and most important is the control of online gaming; the second is the electronic monitoring of operators and the third is the streamlining of taxation for the industry.

Vulovic said the Gaming Board is now planning to crack down hard on illegal operators, with the backing of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the tax authorities.

All gaming licences will have a duration of 10 years, and there are strict requirements to prevent unfair activity, underage and problem gambling and money laundering.

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