Big Changes Coming for UK Bingo Sites

It looks like more regulations are in store for online bingo sites that target the lucrative UK bingo market. It looks like the new coalition government is looking for new revenue streams and is looking at regulating and taxing offshore gambling sites that currently pay no taxes in the UK. The government insists that the moves are designed to protect players but most in the industry are skeptical to say the least. According to an unnamed ‘senior government source’ the first move will be a ban on advertising for offshore operators and a possible US style ban on the use of credit cards at bingo sites and gambling sites.

At the present time internet bingo sites in certain offshore licensing jurisdictions are allowed to advertise in the UK but that may change. The UK maintains a ‘white list’ of approved licensing jurisdictions. The unnamed source said that Culture Secretary, Jeremy Hunt is concerned with the level of problem gambling in the UK and wants to ban the use of credit cards at bingo sites and gambling sites to prevent players from betting money they don’t have. Land based bingo clubs in the UK have never been allowed to accept credit card as a form of payment. The unnamed government source told reporters from the Daily Mail, “Ministers are concerned about the explosion of internet gambling advertising since [the political party then in power] Labour relaxed the gambling laws.”

At present only gambling operators based in the UK are required to be licensed by the Gambling Commission and pay taxes on gambling profits. This puts UK bingo sites at a disadvantage with offshore sites that pay no taxes. Gambling taxes are high in the UK which is why many operators are located offshore. Bingo sites licensed in white list countries such as Alderney, the Isle of Man, Antigua, and the Australian state of Tasmania are currently allowed to advertise in the UK but that may change soon as the coalition government reviews current regulations. Secretary Hunt hopes to review proposed legislation in Parliament to make sure that all online gaming in the UK is licensed by the Gambling Commission.

Government actions will likely have an impact of many of the major internet bingo sites serving the UK market. Most of the major bingo sites are licensed offshore and spend a lot of money advertising in the UK. Many offshore bingo sites have spent millions on television advertising in the UK. For some bingo sites the potential loss of revenue could cause them to go under. Hopefully there will be a compromise and the UK will not adopt US style online gambling laws which have been a disaster.

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