UK Government Considers Changes to Gaming Laws

If the current Cameron government in the UK has its way there may be some major changes in store for offshore bingo sites and online casinos. The UK online gambling industry fears that the new government will be making far reaching changes to the gambling act passed in 2005. Reports indicate that Jeremy Hunt who is the UK Culture Secretary is planning to ban offshore bingo sites from advertising in the UK. Some in government believe that gambling addiction has increased in the UK and is cited as the main reason for the proposed changes.

Hunt also wants to ban the use of credit cards for any kind of online gambling including gambling at internet bingo sites. The Daily Mail quoted an unnamed government official who stated, “Ministers are concerned about the explosion of internet gambling advertising since Labour relaxed the gambling laws. Changes in the Government want to make would help protect the public from gambling companies that don’t meet UK standards but have been allowed to profit from Labour’s lax approach to internet gambling.”

Players at bingo sites in the UK already enjoy more protections than anywhere else in the world. Bingo sites must be on a ‘white list’ of approved licensing jurisdictions. Almost all of the approved jurisdictions are in the UK and Europe and are already highly regulated. The ‘white list’ gives gaming companies in approved jurisdictions the right to advertise their services in the UK. The UK already has some of the world’s toughest gambling laws designed to ensure that bingo sites do not target children or vulnerable citizens. Currently a loophole exists in the law which allows offshore companies to operate within the UK even though their standards may not meet those required of UK companies.

The government’s new proposal would require all bingo sites accepting UK players to obtain an online gaming license in the UK. For many there is a question of how the government would go about taxing and licensing offshore operations. Several countries have tried to control online gaming by various methods and all have been unsuccessful. Many in the online gaming industry think it is only fair that offshore operations pay their fair share for the privilege of advertising in the UK. Banning the use of credit cards has been tried in the United States and has met with dismal failure. The UK government should think twice before imposing excessive regulations which could cripple the industry.

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