Controversy rages over UK’s new Gambling (Licensing and Advertising) Act, which should be implemented later this autumn.
New tax policies and licensing conditions. This is what remote gambling operators targeting British players can look forward to starting October 1, when the Gambling (Licensing and Advertising) Act 2014 will be implemented.
Officials have informed that operators currently providing gambling services in the UK who wish to continue selling their products to local players should submit their applications for a renewed license by September 16.
New UK gambling laws, this October
The UK Government has been discussing bringing changes to the current British gambling laws for a while now, but it was only recently that these plans have taken shape. With both Houses agreeing on the proposed changes, the Bill received Royal Assent on 14 May and is now an Act of Parliament.
The Gibraltar Betting and Gaming Association is a trade association representing online casino operators based in Gibraltar, including:
The new legislation focuses more on the point of consumption of services rather than the point of supply, meaning it introduces new terms of licensing for casino companies based overseas who cater to British players.
In addition, a new tax regime included in the Finance Bill requires dues to be paid for every arrangement between a remote operator and a “UK person”. Practically, foreign-based companies would be required to contribute to the UK budget for research, education and treatment of problem gambling, as well as for regulatory costs.
Now things are swiftly moving forward and the UK Gambling Commission has asked remote operators to apply for a continuation of their license. Companies can send in their applications online via the regulator’s website, but there’s a tight deadline set for September 16 this year.
Operators who are not issued new documents by October 1st will get “continuation licenses”, which will be used until the application process is completed and final papers come through.
GBGA says Gambling Act is “unlawful”
The confirmation that the new draft will become fully applicable this year comes despite heavy criticism from the Gibraltar Betting and Gaming Association (GBGA), which represents powerful online and mobile casinos companies such as Betfair, Gala Coral, Ladbrokes and William Hill.
The association said it’s willing to challenge the new regulations in court, claiming they are “unlawful”. It added that the proposed changes would require UK authorities to police the industry on a global scale and would end up having a negative effect, driving British players towards illegal websites.
Claiming that such regulations would create more problems than they solve, the GBGA hired a law firm to communicate its concerns to decision-makers like the Secretary for Culture, Media and Sport, Sajid Javid, attorney general Dominic Grieve or representatives of the UK Gambling Commission.
“This is bad for UK consumers, bad for the regulated industry, bad for Gibraltar and is in breach of European law, but fantastic news for operators who choose to avoid proper regulation,” GBGA chief Peter Howitt said.
“We know of no precedent where any regulator in any industry will be granted the role of licensing and regulating operators all over the world in this way, threatening to criminalize companies and people who fail to submit to its regime.”
New law will have “adverse effects”
According to the GBGA, Gibraltar has “one of the most effective regulatory regimes in the world” and does not need any further changes.
Dan Tench, a partner at the law firm representing the association said: “The Government announced that this law was introduced with the express intention of addressing concerns it said it had about the protection of consumers. The measures introduced through this Act are neither reasonable nor proportionate to achieving that goal and are likely to have adverse consequences for consumers.”
Experts also claim that the new Gambling Act breaches European law, which requires each member of the EU to grant free movement of services. Now UK officials have been placed on judicial review and have 14 days to respond to the complaints.
Meanwhile, the UK Government is moving forward with its project, regardless of what gambling operators say. It remains to be seen if the court forces authorities to change their plans.