U.K Gaming Community Waits For the Big News
Leading British newspapers have reported that online casinos and gaming companies from outside UK who want to advertise their services here may find the going tough. Under the new law, offshore online gaming companies will be required to obtain a special license and also pay fees to the authorities to be able to advertise their gaming services.
It might seem to be the right thing to do. Any government has the right and the responsibility to protect the interests of its citizens. The demand of the British government that overseas gaming operators must pay for their promotional activities seems just and reasonable as the laws are framed in consultation with the U.K Gaming Commission. These laws are aimed at preventing minors from falling prey to the gaming machines and ensuring that gambling and online gaming does not become a serious problem for its citizens.
But things are not as simple as they seem to be on the surface. There are reports which state that the target of these laws is in fact British gaming companies. These companies had in the past moved away from the U.K to other legal gambling destinations such as Gibraltar, Alderney, the Isle of Man and Antigua. The move was made by these gaming companies to escape the huge taxes that they had to pay for obtaining licenses in their own country. Other operators who functioned outside the jurisdiction of the U.K government were able to offer better services at lower prices as they benefited from lower taxes. There was no level playing field and competition was intense, forcing these operators to shift shop.
The new laws are aimed at forcing those who moved outside the U.K to come back and pay the taxes under the new laws. Politicians as usual have jumped into the fray and the blame game has begun in earnest. The current coalition of the Conservatives and the Lib-Dem is blaming the earlier Labor government for being lenient and going easy on the online gambling operators. The main charge is that by allowing gambling services to advertise, they have given a huge fillip to the gambling industry leading to incidents of problem gambling and a huge increase in the incidents of online gambling. According to the Cultural Secretary Jeremy Hunt, the problem is serious enough to consider a ban on credit cards for gambling online. This, he says, will at least ensure that people won’t be able to risk money that they do not have.
According to official figures U.K gambling community spent £ 2.5 billion on online gambling last year. Operators licensed by the Gambling Commission were responsible for less than a fourth of this figure. Government officials argue that by bringing in the new law they can make a difference to the lives of hundreds of those gamblers and their families who are now in debt because of their addiction to online gambling.
The gambling community and the online service providers are watching every move of the government in the said matter very keenly. Those who have inside information and their ear to the ground – the unofficial sources- believe that the new gambling laws are set to become a reality as early as March 2011.