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UK  – Entain given 12 months to leave certain markets in Latin America

By - 11 December 2023

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) the principal public agency for conducting criminal prosecutions in England and Wales has ordered Entain to leave a number of Latin American gaming markets. On 5 December The CPS  entered into a deferred prosecution agreement (DPA)  with Entain plc, the  global online sports betting and gaming business (owner of Ladbrokes and Coral bookmakers) headquartered in London, to settle the HM Revenue & Customs investigation into the Company (and its group).

The conduct which is the subject of the DPA relates to the alleged failure by GVC to prevent bribery contrary to Section 7 of the Bribery Act 2010 between July 2011 and December 2017. The alleged bribery offences occurred primarily in Turkey. GVC disposed of its Turkish business in December 2017.

Entain plc has agreed to pay a financial penalty plus disgorgement of profits totalling £585 million, to make a charitable donation of £20 million and to pay a contribution of £10 million to the CPS and HMRC costs.

In clauses 32: “Entain shall exit all gambling markets in which it is currently operating and which markets are not yet subject to gambling regulation within 12 months” of the exit date.  For the avoidance of doubt, those markets are identified in Annex B to the DPA.  Specifically, the CPS named Mexico, Brazil, Chile and Peru as the markets in question.

However clause 33 rules that if Entain believes that “there are reasonable grounds to consider that the process of regulation will be completed within a reasonable time of the Exit Date (and in any event not more than 12 months following the Exit Date), Entain may request from the CPS an extension to the Exit Date in respect of that Regulating Market.”

Brazil is in the process of regulating its online gambling market and it could be legalised by the end of this year. Lawmakers are currently in the process of drafting an online gambling bill in Chile with the expectation that it should be approved by the end of next year.  

Meanwhile online gaming has been permitted via special license in Mexico since 2000, but only land based operators have been allowed to offer their services locally. As land based operators may offer online services via a licence granted to them by the Secretariat of the Interior (SEGOB) a number of foreign operators have signed agreements with local operators.  However online gambling via licensed sites in Mexico still accounts for a small proportion of casino revenue. Offshore operators continue to target the market operating in a grey area as there are no specific rules in place on a federal level when it comes to online gambling.  

In July this year President Dina Boluarte signed Peru’s newly reworked gambling bill into law. The Ministry of Foreign Trade and Tourism (Mincetur) approved the final regulations covering licensing and other aspects of the law in October.  The new regulations will come into on February 9, 2024. Between February 10 and March 10, 2024, all those companies wishing to operate in Peru online must apply for a licence to Mincetur.

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