Online Gambling Developments in UK and USBy: Joan Peppin, Sunday August 14th 2011
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Of late the UK and the US have been in the forefront of online gambling news. In the UK the government is planning to revamp the gambling laws to bring the offshore operators into the tax net. In the US various states and representative bodies are trying to usher in a regulated online gambling regime. There has been some news on both fronts this week.
In the UK, Ralph Topping, the chief executive of the leading online gambling operator William Hill has lashed out at the British government for the proposed changes to the licensing and taxation of Internet gambling. In an interview to the Chronicle newspaper in Gibraltar Topping said that the government is "stepping on a minefield". The changes include offshore online gambling operators wishing to access the UK market would have to obtain a secondary license and pay taxes in UK. Topping described this as unfair. He said, "If politicians act holistically, people might think that was a reasonable approach, but if they salami slice things, they're in danger of making huge mistakes and getting into legal territory they wouldn't enjoy." William Hill had shifted its online gambling operations to Gibraltar two years ago in order to avoid the high UK taxation, which was making it uncompetitive in the market. Since then Gibraltar has become the hub for online gambling activity in Europe and William Hill will not be returning to the UK. Topping indicated that instead of leveling the field by taxing offshore operators, the UK government will have to match the taxation levels of other jurisdictions.
IN the US the bid by the Washington DC council to legalize online gambling will be delayed further as per reports in the Associated Press news agency. In the last hearing the council had taken a view that the public had not been given sufficient opportunity to consider the recently passed law to introduce intrastate online gambling. Therefore the council had instructed the DC Lottery to put its implementation plans on hold and to initiate a public consultation process. Accordingly the DC Lottery chief Buddy Roogow had set up a plan for wide presentations across the city wards. But the Washington DC residents do not want these presentations to be held in summer. Therefore there will be further delay in the entire process. The presentations will now be held from mid-September running into October.
Meanwhile in the US it has been reported that the American Gaming Association (AGA) has spent $641,621.09 lobbying the federal government in Q2 of 2011 on issues of online gambling. The Associated Press news agency reported that amount was somewhat more than what the AGA had spent in Q1 of 2011 and considerably more than what it spent in Q2 of 2010. The question is when such expenditure will bear results.
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