Gaming in Monaco: overview

Legislative framework of gambling regulation

Legislative framework of gambling regulation

◊ Status: Law stated as at 01-Nov-2016 | Jurisdiction: Monaco

Contents

♦ Legislative framework of gambling regulation
   ◊ Overview
   ◊ Definitions of gambling
   ◊ Regulatory authorities
   ◊ Gambling products
♦ Land-based gambling
   ◊ Regulation/licensing
♦ Online gambling
   ◊ Regulation/licensing
   ◊ B2B and B2C
   ◊ Technical measures
♦ Mobile gambling and interactive gambling
♦ Social gaming
♦ Gambling debts
♦ Tax
♦ Advertising
♦ Developments and reform
   ◊ Legal development
   ◊ Reform
♦ The regulatory authorities
   ◊ Ministry of Finance and the Economy
   ◊ Service de Contrôle des Jeux
   ◊ Commission des Jeux
♦ Online resources
   ◊ Legimonaco

 

Overview

images 1. What legislation applies to gambling?
Casino gaming

In 1848, the Prince of Monaco, Florestan I, was obliged to abandon his reign over the territories of Menton and Roquebrune (which then accounted for 95% of the principality’s territory). Deprived of great sources of income, Monaco was confronted with a financial crisis. To overcome this, Prince Charles III (Florestan’s successor) turned to tourism and on 26 April 1856 granted an exclusive privilege of 35 years for the creation of a tourism facility housing a casino. However, this was less successful than expected. In 1863, François Blanc, a major entrepreneur in the field of gambling, was granted a 50-year concession and founded the company Société des Bains de Mers, which became the Monte-Carlo SBM Group (SBM). This group enjoyed a comfortable monopoly in Europe until 1907, when France adopted a regulation authorising casinos. In 1966, the state of Monaco became the main shareholder of the SBM, placing SBM casinos under state control.

On 12 June 1987, the Monegasque government adopted Law No. 1.103 on games of chance (Gaming Law). The Gaming Law regulates land-based gambling, including new games and slot machines, and is the most important law relating to gaming regulation in Monaco. The Gaming Law establishes the legal framework applicable to the activities of gambling houses, including the:

  • Conditions under which authorisations and licences are granted.
  • Terms of access and the operation of such gambling houses.
  • Supervision of land-based gambling.

However, the scope of the Gaming Law is limited to land-based gambling only and does not extend to lottery, betting or online gambling offers.

Lottery

On 6 June 1867, the General Police Law was passed. This law prohibited lotteries in Monaco (apart from lotteries offering movable goods for the exclusive purpose of charity or art sponsoring which are authorised by the governor general). However, according to governmental agreements entered into between France and Monaco, citizens of Monaco can participate in French lotteries offered by La Française des Jeux (in France, operation of the national lottery is granted to La Française des Jeux, which is structured as a semi-public company).

Betting

Monegasque law prohibits betting. However, an agreement between France and Monaco has authorised citizens of Monaco to participate in games offered by the French company PMU (that is, a special legal entity created jointly by all French horse racing companies to manage their horse betting activities).

Online gambling

There are presently no provisions applicable to online gambling in Monaco. A draft bill tabled in the National Council of Monaco on 24 September 2001 sought to regulate online gambling. The purpose of this draft law was to extend the regulations applicable to land-based gambling to online gambling. However, the draft bill was never adopted and there is no evidence to indicate that online gambling in Monaco will be regulated in the near future. See also Question 7.

Definitions of gambling

images 2. What is the legal definition of gambling in your jurisdiction and what falls within this definition?
General definition

The establishment of gambling houses or the organisation of lotteries or sales based on chance without legal authorisation are prohibited.

Under Monegasque law, gambling means games of chance, lotteries or sales based on chance and, in general, any operation offered to the public, regardless of its designation, to trigger the hope of a gain which would be acquired through chance (Article 350, Criminal Code).

However, games that are essentially the result of skills, strength or intellectual combinations are not considered games of chance (Article 351, Criminal Code).

Online gambling

Online gambling is prohibited in Monaco and there is no specific definition for online gambling under Monegasque law.

However, the draft bill of 24 September 2001 (which was not adopted, see Question 1, Online gambling) defined online gambling as any game of chance that is located, hosted and executed in Monaco by a licensed gambling house and which provides, in accordance with the conditions specified by law, online gambling, the technical process of online betting and online earnings to internet users.

Land-based gambling

There is no legal definition of land-based gambling in Monegasque law. The only reference to land-based gambling can be found in Article 350 of the Criminal Code, which states that establishing or managing a gambling house requires a prior government authorisation.

Regulatory authorities

images 3. What are the regulatory or governmental bodies that are responsible for supervising gambling?

Gambling in Monaco is regulated by the Ministry of Finance and the Economy through two governmental bodies:

  • Gambling Commission (Commission des jeux). This has overall responsibility for the supervision of gambling houses. The Gambling Commission issues advice on all matters relating to the functioning of gambling houses, gaming operations and the implementation of game regulations.
  • Department of Gambling Control (Service de contrôle des jeux). This is responsible for ensuring compliance with the provisions of the Gaming Law and its implementing measures. Its agents are responsible for:
    • supervising the operation of gambling houses by performing all investigations in this regard;
    • controlling the operation of games and making all related checks;
    • supervising the control of access to gambling houses and that of their opening and closing hours; and
    • ensuring the proper operation of the gaming and the correct employee behaviour.

See box, The regulatory authorities.

The Ministry of Finance and the Economy is responsible for granting official authorisations for gambling entities. These authorisations are required, in particular, in relation to:

  • Working conditions.
  • Hiring of employees.
  • Gambling devices.
  • Accounting rules.

Authorisations are issued by the Minister of State.

Gambling products

images 4. What gambling products have been specifically identified by legislation, and what different requirements have been established for each?
Poker

According to Monegasque law, gambling houses can offer seven different types of poker games (Article 1, Order No. 8.929 of 15 July 1987):

  • Pai gow poker.
  • Caribbean gold poker.
  • Casino stud poker.
  • Progressive stud poker.
  • Texas Hold’em Ultimate.
  • Texas Hold’em No Limit.
  • Three card poker.

The conditions under which each of the above poker games can be offered are set out within both the ministerial orders specifically adopted for the game and in the Ministerial Order No. 88.384 of 26 July 1988, which sets out the rules under which the games must be operated.

Betting

Monegasque law prohibits betting. However, there are “exceptions” to this prohibition (see below).

Sports betting

Citizens of Monaco are authorised to participate in French betting offered by the company PMU on horse races.

Casino games

Casino games, together with gambling house games, are regulated by the Gaming Law and Order No. 8.929 of 15 July 1987 (which sets out the rules of implementation for the Gaming Law).

The Gaming Law defines the conditions for the authorisation, access, operation and control of gambling houses. Order No. 8.929 notably provides a list of games that gambling houses are authorised to offer. These are:

  • Counterparty games. These include boule, roulette, 30 et 40, blackjack, craps, grande roue.
  • Baccarat games. These include chemin de fer, banque, punto banco.
  • Manual, mechanical or electronic games.
  • Other games. These include:
    • pai gow poker;
    • Carribean gold poker;
    • casino stud poker;
    • progressive stud poker;
    • Texas hold’em ultimate;
    • Texas hold’em no limit;
    • three card poker; and
    • sun war game (la bataille).

Games of chance, with the exception of poker games, are governed by Ministerial Order No 88.348 of 26 July 1988, which sets out the rules for each game.

Regarding casinos’ organisation, both the Gaming Law and Order No. 8.929 set out the rules for authorisations, casino staff and accounting rules.

Slot and other machine gaming

Casinos are authorised to use slot machines and other gaming devices. However, each machine must have an official authorisation (Article 12, Gaming Law). Slot machines and other gaming machines are regulated by Ministerial Order No. 88.348, which sets out the conditions for their operation.

Among the various requirements applicable to gambling machines, a written explanation is required for any technical intervention performed on gaming machines. In such cases, the intervention sheet must detail the (Article 20, Ministerial Order No. 88.384):

  • Stop time of the machine.
  • Purpose of the intervention.
  • Machine number.
  • Engineer’s signature.
Bingo

Bingo has not been authorised in Monaco.

Lottery

Lotteries are prohibited (Articles 26 and 27, General Police Order of 6 June 1867). However, according to governmental agreements entered into between France and Monaco, citizens of Monaco are allowed to participate in French lotteries offered by La française des jeux. See also Question 1, Lottery.

Land-based gambling

Regulation/licensing

images 5. What is the licensing regime (if any) for land-based gambling?
Available licences

Gambling operators must be authorised by the public authorities before commencing any gambling operations. Under Monegasque law, any person who offers gambling services without holding a licence will be punished by imprisonment for one to six months and/or a fine ranging from EUR2,250 to EUR9,000 (Article 350, Criminal Code). Offenders may be deprived of their civil and family rights for a period of five to six years.

However, although Monaco’s legislation has created a system of licensing, the Société des Bains de Mers (SBM) is the sole gambling operator in Monaco. The only casinos sharing the gambling market in Monaco are SBM casinos and no other gambling house operates in the jurisdiction. Indeed, SBM benefits from a “gambling privilege” which results in SBM’s monopoly over gambling in Monaco (see Question 1, Casino gaming).

Eligibility

The SBM is currently the sole gambling operator in Monaco (see above, Available licences). It is not currently possible for other operators to be eligible for a licence.

Application procedure

Under Article 2 of the Gaming Law, all gambling licences are issued by a Sovereign Order. Unless the licence conferred by the Sovereign Order is a monopoly for the operation of games of chance (the gambling privilege), the Sovereign Order must be accompanied by a requirements specification and must specify the:

  • Name and qualifications of the licensee.
  • Location of the licensed games.
  • Number of gaming tables and automatic equipment allowed.

In addition, pursuant to Article 1 of the Gaming Law, this licence can only be granted under the conditions prescribed by the law and only for games mentioned on the Sovereign Order list (which sets out the mode of regulation governing the operation of each game). Therefore, the licence that is granted is necessarily subject to permanent supervision by the administration.

Meanwhile, Article 11 of Order No. 8.929 requires gambling operators to keep a special register detailing the dates and procedures of all interventions by the administrative authorities (that is, the Gambling Commission and Gambling Control Department). Mainly, the administrative authorities can enter comments or instructions on this register which must be complied with by the employee responsible for the gambling premises within eight days.

Duration of licence and cost

The SBM is the sole gambling operator in Monaco (see above, Available licences). It benefits from this monopoly since 1863 when it was granted the gambling privilege. This monopoly was renewed in a 2003 Sovereign Order for a duration of 20 years from 1 April 2007 to 31 March 2027. This monopoly can only be renewed by a new Sovereign Order and can only be revoked for breach of the gambling regulation or breach of the requirement specifications.

As a counterpart for this gambling privilege, the requirement specifications provide that the SBM must pay an annual fee of 15% of the gaming gross annual revenue (which will be increased to 17% from 1 April 2019). In addition, the SBM must also contribute to the state’s expenses in terms of sport and cultural events.

Licence for employees

The rules regarding employment in gambling houses are set out in Articles 6 to 8 of the Gaming Law. Under these rules, gambling operators can only employ individuals approved by official authorisation issued by the Minister of State. Moreover, the internal rules applicable to employees are also subject to this official authorisation. Overall, employees of gaming houses must comply with various obligations. For example, under these obligations employees are prohibited from:

  • Frequenting other gambling houses.
  • Gambling, even outside of the Principality of Monaco.
Gambling equipment licence

Gambling operators are prohibited from using equipment that has not received an official authorisation issued by the Minister of State (Gaming Law).

Ministerial Decree No. 88-384 of 26 July 1988 on gambling regulation contains provisions relating to both:

  • Specific material, such as playing cards and their equipment, dice or roulette equipment, and gambling machines (including slot machines).
  • The rules of each authorised game.
images 6. What are the limitations or requirements imposed on land-based gambling operators?
Prohibitions

Access to gambling houses is prohibited for the following (Articles 9 to 11, Gaming Law):

  • Minors (person under the age of 18 years).
  • Excluded individuals (see below).
  • Individuals under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.
  • Members of the military.
  • Religious ministers.
  • Civil servants.
  • Other state employees.

In addition, citizens of Monaco are prohibited from gambling within the Principality of Monaco together with gambling house employees (for whom the prohibition goes even further, as the latter are also prohibited from gambling outside the jurisdiction of Monaco (see Question 5, Licence for employees)).

Under Article 10 of the Gaming Law, “excluded individuals” are individuals who voluntarily sought their exclusion from casinos and made a corresponding written request as well as those who are deemed undesirable. Any exclusion measure of more than one year requires official authorisation.

Anti-money laundering legislation

Under Article 1 of Law No. 1.362 dated 3 August 2009 and Order No. 2.318 dated 3 August 2009, gambling houses are subject to various anti-money laundering obligations. Notably, gambling houses must implement Know-Your-Customer rules (such as the identification and verification of the identity of any customer purchasing chips for more than EUR3,000 or operating any financial transaction in relation to gambling).

Online gambling

Regulation/licensing

images 7. What is the licensing regime (if any) for online gambling?

There are no legal provisions applicable to online gambling in Monaco. As a result, online gambling operators are prohibited from establishing themselves in Monaco to offer online gambling services in the jurisdiction. However, no specific legal provision prevents users in Monaco from playing on online gambling websites. In addition, “gambling products” are excluded from the scope of Law No. 1.383 of 2 August 2011 on the digital economy, which sets out the rules applicable to e-commerce and consumer protection.

Monaco’s legislator attempted to regulate online gambling offers in 2001 through a bill filed in the National Council of Monaco dated 24 September 2001. The purpose of the draft bill was to extend the regulations applicable to land-based gambling to online gambling. However, this project remained at the draft stage and there is currently no project to open the Monegasque market to online gambling in the future.

images 8. What are the limitations or requirements imposed on online gambling operators?

Not applicable (see Question 7).

B2B and B2C

images 9. Is there a distinction between the law applicable between B2B operations and B2C operations in online gambling?

Not applicable (see Question 7).

Technical measures

images 10. What technical measures are in place (if any) to protect consumers from unlicensed operators, such as ISP blocking and payment blocking?

Not applicable (see Question 7).

Mobile gambling and interactive gambling

images 11. What differences (if any) are there between the regulation of mobile gambling and interactive gambling on television?

Not applicable (see Question 7).

Social gaming

images 12. How is social gaming regulated in your jurisdiction?

The Principality of Monaco has not adopted any law specifically on social gaming and does not plan to do so in the near future. However, other provisions may apply to social gaming, such as consumer protection regulation and advertising and marketing law.

Gambling debts

images 13. Are gambling debts enforceable in your jurisdiction?

Gambling or betting debts are not enforceable (Article 1804, Civil Code). There is, however, an exception to this prohibition: if a client purchases casino chips with a non-sufficient funds check, the casino can claim for the payment of this debt an cannot be barred from recovering these sums on the grounds of the unenforceability of gambling debts.

Tax

images 14. What are the applicable tax regimes for land-based and online gambling?
Land-based gambling

The operating revenue from betting and gambling activities (including lottery and horse betting) are exempted from VAT (Article 27, Tax Code). However, this exemption from VAT does not apply to the remuneration of the operators and intermediaries taking part in the organisation of lotteries and horse betting. Furthermore, lottery and/or betting tickets offered by French companies in the Principality of Monaco are subject to stamp duty.

Online gambling

Not applicable (see Question 7).

Advertising

images 15. To what extent is the advertising of gambling permitted in your jurisdiction? To the extent that advertising is permitted, how is it regulated?
Land-based gambling

There are no specific provisions in this regard. However, advertising is permitted for operators that offer services in Monaco legally.

Online gambling

Not applicable (see Question 7).

Developments and reform

Legal development

images 16. Has the legal status of land-based and online gambling changed significantly in recent years, and if so how?
Land-based gambling

There has been no major change in the status of land-based gaming in recent years.

Online gambling

Not applicable (see Question 7).

Reform

images 17. What, if any, are the likely short-term and long-term developments/legislative amendments concerning gambling in your jurisdiction? Are there any proposals for reform?

Currently, no amendments to the gambling regulation are contemplated. However, it is expected that the next modification of the regulation will concern sport betting.

The regulatory authorities

Ministry of Finance and the Economy

Wwww.gouv.mc/Gouvernement-et-Institutions/Le-Gouvernement/Departement-des-Finances-et-de-l-Economie

Description. The Ministry of Finance and the Economy is responsible for granting official authorisations which are required for working conditions, hiring employees, gambling devices and accounting rules.

Service de Contrôle des Jeux

Wwww.gouv.mc/Gouvernement-et-Institutions/Le-Gouvernement/Departement-des-Finances-et-de-l-Economie/Service-de-Controle-des-Jeux

Description. The Department of Gambling Control is responsible for ensuring compliance with the provisions of the legislation on gambling and it’s implementing measures.

Commission des Jeux

W http://www.gouv.mc/Gouvernement-et-Institutions/Le-Gouvernement/Departement-des-Finances-et-de-l-Economie/Service-de-Controle-des-Jeux

Description. The Gambling Commission has overall responsibility for the supervision of gambling houses.

Online resources

Legimonaco

W www.legimonaco.mc

Description. Legimonaco is the government entity responsible for publishing legal texts online. It provides access, in French, to laws and decrees published in the Journal official, important court rulings, international treaties to which Monaco is a party.

 

Source: Practical Law

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