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Further Developments In UK Online Gambling Law

By: Joan Peppin, Thursday February 14th 2013
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The process of arriving at the new gambling law in the United Kingdom moved one step ahead on February 12. This draft legislation if implemented will see major changes in the way online gambling is administered in the country. The two contentious issues are the British government’s plan to introduce secondary licensing for overseas operators and taxation at the point of consumption.

On February 12 the Department of Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee met to examine oral and written evidence from a host of interested parties on the draft Gambling (Licensing & Advertising) Bill. The main oral witnesses were Jonathan Stephens, Permanent Secretary, Department for Culture, Media and Sport, and Jenny Williams, Chief Executive, Gambling Commission. The committee questioned these two on several important issues including the benefits that will accrue to consumers from the Bill, why the potential benefits of the Bill for consumers outweigh the disadvantages to legitimate operators and how the proposed legislation would help to reduce match-fixing.

Among the parties that made written submissions were Remote Gambling Association, 888 Holdings, William Hill Online, Gala Coral Group, Betfair, The Rank Group, CARE, Paddy Power and Ladbrokes. It is evident that the leaders of the United Kingdom gambling industry wanted to record their views. 888 Holdings listed the steps that they were already taking to ensure responsible gambling. They pointed out that they were already licensed in Gibraltar and therefore the Gambling Commission needed to liaise with external regulators. The Rank Group is primarily a land casino operator. It pointed out that the lower rates of taxation on online gambling as proposed would hurt the land casino industry.

The UK Gambling Commission has released its latest prevalence statistics for the calendar year 2012 and there are hardly any surprises. Of the 4,000 adults surveyed those who had participated in at least one form of gambling in the previous four weeks was 55.3%. This proportion has been steady at this level since 2009. The proportion participating in remote gambling at least once in the previous four weeks was 12% for 2012. The figure was 7% in 2006 but appears to be stabilizing at 12%. Remote gambling includes online, TV interactive and mobile gambling. Remote gambling via a computer, laptop or handheld device was most popular (10.8%), followed by gambling via mobile phone (3.4%) and interactive TV (0.9%). Those participating in remote gambling were more likely to be male and in the age group 18 to 44 years.

The survey also asked respondents to comment on the fairness of gambling activity in the United Kingdom. For the year 2012 48.5% of the 4,000 adults surveyed stated that gambling in Britain is conducted fairly and can be trusted. This has been the case in the recent past as well.

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