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UK Closes Online Gambling White List For Now

By: Ryan Alders, Thursday July 30th 2009
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The Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) of the United Kingdom has let it be known that there will be no additions to its White List at least till the beginning of next year. All the jurisdictions currently on the White List were accordingly informed. The White List consisted of those online gambling operators that were approved by the United Kingdom and were allowed to advertise their products and services in the United Kingdom media. The reason given for not accepting any more applicants to the White List is that the United Kingdom government wants to review the UK Gambling Act. The DCMS will attempt to complete its study by the end of 2009 and will then table its report in the Parliament in January next year.

The eGamingReview has reported that the review of the online gambling legislation has been initiated at the behest of leading UK-based bookmakers who indicated that offshore operators on the White List enjoyed unfair advantages. They also indicated that it was essential to create a level playing field so that there was equal competition in the online gambling industry. The review will consider the 15% gross profits tax levels, costs such as the horseracing levy and VAT that the UK-based online gambling operators have to pay. The review will look at ways of imposing the levy on offshore operators. Finally the review will also assess the situation with regards to problem gambling. The situation was perhaps precipitated when William Hill's chief executive, Ralph Topping, said in an interview to the Financial Times that moving to Gibraltar was an immediate option that his company was looking at. Ultimately the bottom line dictated the place of domicile and not patriotism.

The problem is compounded by the fact that many members of the European Union are paying scant respect to the European Commission directive to open up online gambling to fair competition from operators from other nations. The United Kingdom has put in place a regime of legalization and regulation by which it allows deserving offshore operators to access the United Kingdom online gambling market. But countries like Italy and France are not allowing UK-based online gambling operators access to their markets. This lack of reciprocity is hurting the United Kingdom.

The White List was started in 2007 and first included gambling jurisdictions within the European Union such as Alderney and the Isle of Man. Later online gambling operators from other gambling jurisdictions began to apply to be included in the White List. The White List gained importance because the United States had shut its doors for offshore online gambling operators following the passing of the UIGEA. After exhaustive scrutiny other gambling jurisdictions were added to the White List.

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