There are some companies considered too large to fail. Had Full Tilt Poker been a bank, perhaps it would have been rescued by the government. Instead it stumbled into some serious legal and financial confrontation with the US authorities. In the end, all of their licenses were revoked or suspended in the countries where they had been issued.
The dust has settled since their spectacular failure, and several regulators have been evaluating the lessons learned and considering ways to amend their regulations.
The French have also been firm, though only in words so far. Jean-Francois Villotte, the president of the regulatory body ARJEL spoke about a review of local rules: “It is necessary to have the legal means to protect player funds and this is the purpose of trusts and trust companies. In the review team we will ask that the law expressly states this.”
The Alderney Gambling Control Commission (AGCC) accepted a new set of requirements that should guarantee the availability of funds in case a gambling operator has financial obligations to cover.
Malta – the most popular of all offshore jurisdictions – already has regulations in place, whereby all licensed operators must commit to ring-fencing their customers’ money, preventing the misappropriation of player funds to plug holes in company budgets. Compliance is unfortunately neither monitored nor enforced.
The British government in turn has announced its intention to include a clause into the new UK gambling laws that would also make operators ring-fence their players’ deposits. Planned to come into force sometime in 2014, this requirement would provide greater protection to players with regards to the recovery of their funds.
Not long ago such changes were resisted by the government, but its acceptance now looks more feasible as part of the planned large-scale overhaul of the regulations. Hopefully those who play online poker in UK will only have to worry about their strategies and not the safety of their funds in the future.
At this stage a person who pays large amounts of money to play at an online casino in the UK does not have a systemic guarantee to ensure that those funds can be returned even when required by law. If the planned changes come into effect and are enforced then they should provide a level of player protection which has so far been largely missing.