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Jeremy Hunt: Gambling Laws Inconsistent

Britain’s Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt has labelled UK gambling laws as “inconsistent” but ruled out any imminent changes to the regulatory framework.

Appearing before the House of Commons, Hunt said there are concerns over the Gambling Act of 2005, which came into force in 2007.

“I think the truth is that it (the 2005 Act) has not been a success and, as a result, in things like casino policy we are in a kind of limbo at the moment which I don’t think is healthy.

“There are a number of unanswered questions in terms of the way the Gambling Act is being implemented.”

Critics of the bill feared it would increase cases of problem gambling, and Hunt said containing irresponsible gambling would be central to any regulatory changes in the future.

“There are inconsistencies in gambling legislation. And a lot of the reluctance to change things is because of people’s concern [that] in some countries that have liberalised laws they have seen quite significant growth in problem gambling at the same time,” Hunt added.

Licensing Changes

On July 14, the Department for Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) announced reforms to the Gambling Act of 2005. Gaming concerns will now have to obtain a licence from the Gambling Commission to advertise and operate in the United Kingdom, which is the largest regulated poker market in the world. Operators in whitelisted jurisdictions like the Isle of Man and Alderney will receive “an automatic transitional licence.”

“The current system for regulating remote gambling doesn’t work. Overseas operators get an unfair advantage over UK-based companies, and British consumers who gamble online may have little or no protection depending on where the operator they deal with happens to be based. We will create a level playing field, so all overseas operators will be subject to the same standards and requirements as those based in Britain,” said John Penrose, British Minister for Tourism & Heritage.

The amendments, not expected until late 2012, represent the biggest reform to gambling legislation since the passage of the Gambling Act of 2005, which currently does not require operators to obtain licenses and pay taxes in Britain. Most sites have chosen to operate and be headquartered offshore, taking away potential revenues. Britain’s iconic Ladbrokes and William Hill, for example, moved their online operations last year to Gibraltar to take advantage of lower taxes. Betfair was one of the last bookies to drop its UK licensing, setting up shop in Gibraltar earlier this year.

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