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Who Represents Who

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The ‘all-round excellent’ team at CMS advises a mix of broadcasters, sports rights holders, publishers and software developers on the full range of gambling issues across various sectors. The team continues to advise the Gibraltar Betting and Gaming Association (GBGA) on the UK Government’s reform to the taxation of remote gambling services, issuing judicial review proceedings for the High Court to determine the lawfulness of the new tax regimes, and is also advising online gambling business Gamesys on the £425m sale of its Jackpotjoy, Starspins and Botemania business to the Intertain Group. Key practitioners include practice head David Zeffman, corporate lawyer Rob Willis, litigation specialist Dan Tench and Stephen Hignett, who has notable expertise in the gambling sector. Of counsel Anna Soilleux-Mills is also recommended.

Harris Hagan provides the full gamut of corporate, commercial and regulatory advice to its client base within the betting, gaming, licensing and entertainment sectors. Its expertise extends to both land-based and online gaming, and the group frequently advises on applications for license renewal and license variations. Julian Harris and John Hagan are the key names to note, and Bahar Alaeddini is recommended for establishing operations in the UK and in offshore jurisdictions.

Mishcon de Reya LLP provides ‘a consistently high level of hands-on knowledge, professionalism, responsiveness and top connections with industry movers’. The team advises on the full gamut of legal and regulatory matters affecting the gaming and betting area, and is notably strong in corporate and M&A transactions, IPOs and restructurings. Other areas of expertise include compliance and licensing issues, social and computer gaming, and matters under European law. Highlights included advising Hydra Industries Acquisition on its £200m acquisition of Inspired Gaming Group and its affiliates, and advising DraftKings on various regulatory compliance issues along with data protection issues, anti-money laundering compliance, terms and conditions and reputation management. Practice head Susan Breen is praised for her ‘pragmatic approach to client matters, business-oriented mind and great problem solving attitude’. Nick Nocton specialises in regulatory and commercial matters, and Stuart McMaster focuses on gambling-sector work.

Market leading firmSquire Patton Boggs provides ‘a service of the highest standard’, offering ‘swift advice with the right amount of depth to instil confidence in the client’s subsequent actions’. The team has notable expertise in betting-related matters across Asian markets, and regularly advises on lottery law and various lottery schemes. Highlights included advising STV Group on a new scheme to aid children in Scotland, successfully obtaining a licence from the regulatory panel, and assisting Gala Leisure with a major business process change and outsourcing to Playtech. The ‘eloquent and engagingCarl Rohsler leads the department, and has ‘an encyclopaedic knowledge of the Gambling Act’ and ‘a strong reputation within the industry’.

Wiggin LLP provides ‘practical, responsive and realistic advice’ and has ‘an excellent reputation in gaming regulation matters’. The team represents clients across the betting, poker, media and sports sectors, amongst others, and regularly advises major banks and payment processors on gambling-related issues. Practice head Stephen Ketteley has ‘exceptional gambling industry knowledge’, and recently advised Playtech on its high-value acquisition of Swedish games studio Quickspin. Other highlights included assisting William Hill with its £13.5m acquisition of Grand Parade, and advising fantasy sports operator FanDuel on its entry to the British market, preparing its policies and procedures to reflect British gambling regulation requirements. Jason Chess is the other key figure, and has significant expertise in online gambling, lotteries, competitions and promotions.

Berwin Leighton Paisner LLP provides ‘a professional and responsive service’ and ‘has a strong, well-established reputation within the leisure industry, particularly in the hotel sector’. The team regularly advises on licensing for large developments, its clients including a number of casinos, betting shops, developers and banks, and cross-border matters are a notable area of expertise. The firm successfully handled a number of liquor and gambling applications for the Hippodrome Casino in London, and continues to provide gambling and associated regulatory advice in connection with Playtech’s acquisition of Consolidated Financial Holdings. Practice head Craig Baylis is ‘a hardworking solicitor’ who is ‘highly respected in the licensing world for his no-nonsense approach and his depth of knowledge’, and key practitioner Jeremy Bark ‘provides sound advice and guidance, ensuring the client has the full background and detail to assist with any decision making’.

DLA Piper’s practice regularly handles IT, IP, corporate and litigation matters for its broad range of gambling sector clients, and also has notable expertise in domestic and international tax issues. Key clients include William Hill, Jackpot.com and Paysafe Group; the team recently advised the latter on gambling regulations and risk impact across 28 European jurisdictions for the purposes of reshaping its market presence policy, and also assisted with the preparation of worldwide international travel policies. The firm also represented Gala Coral Group in its voluntary settlement with the GB Gambling Commission, a matter involving significant licensing ramifications. Nick Fitzpatrick and Hilary Stewart-Jones co-head the department, and the latter is praised for her ‘very wide knowledge of both UK and international gaming law’.

Gordon Dadds LLP has a substantial client base of international entities, and is well-established in the gaming operator and startup spaces where the team advises on corporate and M&A matters, tax issues and the establishment of new operations. In a recent highlight, the team advised Run Lines on the suspension of an Adult Gaming Centre Operating License, a formal licence review and a criminal investigation by the Gambling Commission where a settlement was negotiated and the criminal action dropped. The firm also assisted Aristotle International Europe on a license submission to the FCA for a credit reference license, a bespoke product held by five other UK companies. The ‘extraordinarily knowledgeableAndrew Cotton heads the gaming and betting team, and Alex Ktorideshandles cases diligently and imaginatively’.

The ‘extremely responsive’ team at K&L Gates LLPunderstands the clients’ business well’, and is noted for its integrated sports and gambling practice group. The team advises on the full range of gambling industry matters including licensing and regulatory issues, public listings and M&A work, technology supply, payment service provision and IP licensing agreements. In a recent highlight, the firm acted for MyLotto24, Tipp24 Services and Smartgames Technologies on a variety of commercial and regulatory gambling issues, including the expansion of MyLotto24’s lottery betting services, and Smartgames’ hosting arrangements and reorganisation of its platform. The team is headed by Warren Phelops and Andrew Danson, and John Elgar ‘provides balanced and responsive advice’.

Gambling specialist Peter Wilson Legal LLP is advising a number of international gambling operations along with professional gamblers, banks, payment processors and media companies on both contentious and non-contentious matters. Peter Wilson and Angela Wilson are the key names to note, and recently advised Betvictor on the sale of its race course pitches and list positions to independent bookmaker Star Sports.

Pinsent Masons LLP’s ‘unique team’ provides ‘swift and precise advice which focuses on finding a solution whilst also making sense from a business perspective’, and the group is ‘very knowledgeable about all new developments within the sector’. The firm is known for its expertise in business expansion and financing, and regularly advises the introduction of new business-critical systems, relocation and strategically significant disputes, alongside other gambling and betting industry issues. The team is headed by the ‘extraordinaryDiane Mullenex who ‘is at the forefront of all new developments and has true international experience’, finding ‘very workable solutions to all problems’. Recent work includes assisting AMC Entertainment with its acquisition of Odeon Cinemas, and advising Crystal Palace Football Club on stadium alcohol licensing.

Taylor Wessing LLP acts for a range of major gaming and betting brands and has notable expertise in the social gaming sector, advising on licensed ‘real money’ products and financial and regulatory issues. eSports is also a key areas of focus, and the team is increasingly involved in assisting companies who have not historically fallen under the remit of UK gambling legislation. Recent work included advising end-to-end gaming company IGT on the re-launch of its ‘Lady Lucks’ branded website, and assisting Amaya with trade mark and copyright disputes regarding its PokerStars, Full Tilt and PokerStrategy.com products. Key figures in the team include practice head Graham Hann, Mark Owen and senior associate Neil Hawley.

Fladgate LLP has ‘extensive, high-value experience of the property aspects of the casino industry’, and is known for advising owner-managers of betting and gaming businesses on various corporate, financial and IT issues. Highlights included advising Global Gaming Ventures on the opening of the £30m Victoria Gate Casino in Leeds, an operation done as part of a new retail and leisure scheme undertaken by Hammerson, and assisting Aspers Group with the real estate aspects of its refinancing. Department head Grant Gordon advises on key licensing and regulatory issues arising from the due diligence process, and the ‘commercial, proactive and pragmaticStephen Lewis specialises in property acquisition and disposal work. Goodheart Family Trust is also a key client.

Joelson’s breadth of expertise includes betting, gaming and lotteries law, regulatory matters and licensing, and the team’s client roster includes a wide mix of nightclubs, casinos, lotteries and betting companies. Niall McCann heads the licensing and gaming department, and Richard Williams is the other key practitioner. The team recently advised NYX Gaming Group on regulatory issues in respect of its acquisition of Amaya Gaming, and has also assisted The City Pub Company on its expansions into new premises across Bristol, Oxford, Cambridge and Bath. Other notable clients include Addison Lee, FC United of Manchester and Apex Hotels.

Kemp Little LLP is noted for its strength in the online and mobile gambling sector, where the team advises on rapidly developing areas such as fintech, artificial intelligence (AI), in-app purchases and digital currencies, and the firm is praised by clients as being ‘a very informative resource for all things related to online gambling’. Notable work included advising William Hill on its supply arrangement with Playtech, and is also assisting Raflr with gambling regulatory issues in relation to its digital draw and its affiliate marketing arrangements. Susan Biddle heads the practice.

Licensing specialist Poppleston Allen takes ‘a true 24 hour approach to its work’, and the team ‘responds quickly, is always accessible and fully supports the clients’ operation’. Key partner Nick Arron has ‘a great level of knowledge and is eager to support the operational challenges faced by the clients’ business’, and Lisa Inzani and Clare Eames co-head the London practice. Eames recently acted for Stonegate Pub Company on several significant acquisitions, including the acquisition of 10 premises from JD Wetherspoon, and Inzani advised Flat Iron Square on a long-term entertainment and retail development project.

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