Starting 13 December 2010, the UK’s National Lottery will no longer pay winners who purchased their lottery tickets over the internet from abroad. The current rules allow for players to buy tickets while overseas using their internet accounts at the National Lottery’s website, but this will all change in a couple of months.
The heart of the issue is legal. While buying a lottery ticket while overseas does not violate British gambling laws, it may violate the local gambling laws where the purchase is being made.
“The general rule of thumb is that if any overseas country has its own lottery, playing the UK one will be illegal,” said a spokesperson for Camelot, the group that runs the UK National Lottery. “The change is to make it absolutely clear to players they must be in the UK or the Isle of Man.”
The current website pops up warnings when it detects that users are making purchases from other countries, saying that the purchase might violate local laws, but these warnings have not been effective in preventing the practice.
“We don’t promote the draw overseas and our licence prevents us doing so – there are plenty of warnings online at the point of sale,” the spokesman said.
Interestingly, when it comes to internet gambling in the United Kingdom, a similar situation applies – but apparently nobody is concerned. Internet gambling websites that are hosted on the Isle of Man or elsewhere in the UK can be used by British national abroad or even by foreign players, and any winnings they earn are paid out in full regardless of the gambling laws that apply the location where the player actually is.
These issues surrounding remote gambling are not new, and the same situation that applies internet lottery sales and online gambling sites in the UK also applies to every other country that licenses online gambling.