Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
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New British licence requirements for overseas online gambling firms

New British licence requirements for overseas online gambling firms

News Release issued by the COI News Distribution Service on 07 January 2010

Sports Minister Gerry Sutcliffe today announced proposals to bring in new licence requirements for overseas-based online gambling firms who want to have a customer base in Britain.

The plans, which will be subject to a consultation period, would mean that online operators currently licensed outside Britain will have to apply for a licence from the Gambling Commission if they want to advertise or provide their gambling services to British consumers.

Under the plans, all online gambling firms active in the British market will have an obligation to share information about suspicious betting patterns with the UK’s sports governing bodies as well as the Gambling Commission. They will also have to comply with British licence requirements including the protection of children and vulnerable people, and will have to demonstrate how they will contribute to the research, education and treatment of problem gambling in Britain.

The Government is considering what the plans mean for operators based in countries outside Europe – specifically in terms of the Government’s approved ‘whitelist’ of countries whose operators are able to advertise in the UK. The Government intends to keep the ‘whitelist’ in some form and it will remain a fundamental part of any future regulatory system. Proposals for any changes to the system will be included in the consultation.

Today’s plans have been announced following a review of the system of online gambling regulation in Great Britain, focusing on consumer protection and ways to ensure that overseas operators contribute towards regulation, problem gambling treatment and the Horserace Betting Levy. The review has looked in some detail at the way the system currently works, as well as exploring the significant regulatory changes taking place in Europe and beyond.

The Government is still investigating ways to secure fair contributions from overseas operators to the Horserace Betting Levy.

Minister for Sport Gerry Sutcliffe said:

"Online gambling has changed significantly in recent years with many European countries taking new approaches to regulation. It would be wrong of us to stand still where things are changing around us - especially where the protection of British consumers may be at stake.

"The new system outlined today will also ensure that all businesses offering online gambling to our consumers adhere to our rules – not someone else’s. The Gambling Act is already one of the best regulatory frameworks in the world and these changes will ensure that it sets the standard for all online gambling companies that target British consumers.

"This is also about making sure overseas firms contribute their fair share towards regulatory costs and vital services like problem gambling treatment.

"In terms of the Horserace Betting Levy, I remain firmly of the view that all operators taking bets on British races should pay their fair share. There is more to do but I am committed to making sure this happens."

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1. A Written Ministerial Statement on the proposals is available on the DCMS website.

2. More information on the ‘whitelist’ is available on the DCMS website. The territories currently on the list are Antigua and Barbuda, Tasmania, the States of Alderney and the Isle of Man. ‘Whitelisting’ is the process used to assess the regulatory frameworks for gambling in jurisdictions (based outside the EEA) that have applied for permission to advertise their services in the UK.

3. 'European countries' means European Economic Area member states and Gibraltar.

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