One of the unintended consequences of the 2004 Gambling Act was the movement of online gambling operators to locations outside of the UK. The operators’ exit resulted in a significant tax savings. This is one of the areas that have been addressed in the Gambling (Licensing and Advertising) Bill which has now received Royal Assent, the final stage in the UK’s legislative process.
The Act, which is expected to take effect on September 1, 2014, applies to UK users of remote gambling services, including online casino, bingo and betting websites as well as telephone betting services. In addition, to a tax levy based on profits from playing in Great Britain operators will be required to report to the Gambling Commission any suspicious betting patterns. The overseas based sites will also be required to contribute to education and treatment in the areas of problem gambling in the UK.
Philip Graf, Chairman of the Gambling Commission, said “This is a welcome step forward – bringing the 85% of the remote gambling market currently regulated overseas within the Commission’s remit will provide us with direct access to and oversight of all commercial gambling provided to those in Britain. This means that we will be far better placed to protect players and to respond to and advise the government on emerging player protection and consumer risks and issues.” The UKGC has updated its FAQ to include the changes due to the new act.
Helen Grant, Minister of Sport, boasts of the Act’s benefit to player in Great Britain. “This Act marks a significant step in increasing protection to consumers based in Great Britain, by ensuring that all remote gambling operators will be subject to robust and consistent regulation. This includes a requirement for operators to support action against illegal activity and corruption in sport, and to comply with license conditions that protect children and vulnerable adults.”
The Act basically has four main points:
Operators will be able to apply for licenses starting in July and will be required to pay a licensing fee. The Act’s 15% tax levy on profits derived from UK players has caused speculation that some sites will establish sites specifically for players in Great Britain such as PokerStars.co.uk.