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EU Bytes Glenn Cezanne W


elcome to 2020. At EU level there are many ambitions ahead. Brexit keeps looming, a new Multi-Annual Financial Framework for the next seven


years is still heavily debated, and a new College of European Commissioners with an ambitious agenda has taken offi ce on 1 December. How ambitious? Just to name a few: (1) a green deal to make Europe the world’s fi rst climate neutral continent, (2) a (more) social economy which looks at inter alia strengthening small & medium-sized enterprises, (3) a Europe which is more competitive on the international stage, and (4) an increased push towards the digitalisation of Europe in light of artifi cial intelligence, 5G networks, cybersecurity, etc. So, before I get into the subject matter of


today, I just want to provide a couple of comments on the above; especially on the last point (digitalisation). I believe there are a lot of upcoming opportunities to get involved as gambling operators, B2B suppliers, compliance


offi cers, etc. no matter if purely online or if you offer a mix of terrestrial and online services. Indeed, offering gambling services, you have access to a plethora of key elements which are at the foundation of the digitalisation debate. This includes the capacity to compile and analyse big data, artifi cial intelligence (linked to player/ consumer behaviour), augmented reality (for player experience), and not to forget, blockchain technology and payment systems. On the latter point, you might remember the interviews I held with our Senior Strategic Advisor, Joachim Marnitz, throughout 2019. We discussed the fact that operators could be replaced by platforms based on blockchain technology. Maybe in itself a reason for you to get involved in the regulatory debate. Now to today’s subject matter: I am looking at


EU State aid, and investigations launched by the European Commission; more specifi cally regarding public casino operators in Germany and in North Rhine-Westphalia (December 2019).


Former Executive Director of the European Casino Association and current Managing Director of Time & Place Consulting, Glenn Cezanne provides the latest info on what’s trending and what’s coming down the pipeline in Brussels and around the EU.


The investigations


Three investigations have been initiated. And, as is pretty much usual when it comes to these cases, they have been due to complaints to the European Commission provided by “several companies active in the gambling sector”. No surprise there. (1) Two cases pertain to tax treatment of public casino operators including alleged guarantees for such operators to remain profi table. Public casinos in Germany are subject to special tax regimes which replace otherwise generally applicable taxes (e.g. corporate, income & trade taxes). The Commission states that the “formal investigation aims at clarifying whether this specifi c tax regime entails an unjustifi ed economic advantage for the public casinos operators in the form of a lower tax burden in comparison with the normal tax rules.” One case was lodged in 2016 and the other in February 2019 with the decision to launch the investigation now.


30 JANUARY 2020


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