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Online Casino News - August, 2009

UK Whitelist on Hold as Gambling Act Goes Under Review

 

  Seed Newsvine

by Devon Chappell, News Staff Writer

August 3, 2009

Effective immediately, the UK Department of Culture, Media and Sports, which oversees the UK Gambling Commission, will no longer be white-listing online casinos and internet betting sites seeking to advertise in the UK. For those operators seeking to still be approved and added to the white-list, the good news is that this is just a temporary hold, so that the Department of Culture may finishing conducting a study and review of the UK Gambling Act.

Originally passed in 2005, the UK Gambling Act has been at the heart of some controversy as of late. Most notably, higher-than-average tax rates may be pushing top shelf online gambling operators, such as William Hill and Ladbrokes, away to offshore regulatory jurisdictions like Malta and Gibraltar, where tax rates are more conducive to competitor needs. Also, there is concern from anti-gambling enthusiasts that the UK Gambling Act is not effectively preventing problem and underage gambling (although reports attest otherwise).

While the latter concern is geared more toward land-based gambling activities (the UK Gambling Act permitted the opening of several brick 'n mortar casinos), the former concern regarding tax rates is specific to the online sector - and actually appears to be the more pressing issue.

According to several UK bookmakers, like Will Hill, white-listed online gambling companies who are regulated outside of the UK, are reaping unfair advantages. The problem is that white-listed businesses are permitted to advertise in the UK, while not being held to the same strict regulations, or rather, more stringent  tax codes, imposed by the UK Gambling Commission. In other words, Will Hill is having to pay over ten times in taxes more than that of offshore casinos regulated in, for instance, Gibraltar.

Further compounding the problem is the fact that several EU member states, such as Italy and France, are not complying with European Commission standards to liberalize their own online gambling industry's, yet allowing State-run gambling monopolies with Euro Online Casinos to take wagers from UK citizens.

Indeed, it would seem the UK Department of Media and Culture certainly needs to conduct a review of the 2005 UK Gambling Act, especially if they want to keep their largest clients on British soil. The study is expected to be finished by late 2009, and reach the Parliament floor for review in early 2010, at which time, it will be known whether the UK white-list will begin approving more offshore online casinos, poker rooms, sports books, bingo rooms - in short - all manner of internet betting sites, for advertising privileges. Most likely not, though.


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