UK to regulate online gambling advertisers

Filtering out rogue operators

Online gambling operators outside Europe will have to seek Government permission to advertise in the UK. The British government's reform of gambling law mandates the seeking of permission in an attempt to crack down on rogue operators.

The gambling markets will be liberalised on 1st September and part of that process will be controls over gambling websites based outside of Europe and Gibraltar. Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell told the Financial Times that a ban on poorly regulated websites could protect UK gamblers against bogus or rogue site operators.

Any bookmakers based outside the European Economic Area and Gibraltar who wish to advertise in the UK will have to prove that the country in which they operate has a licensing regime which ensures fairness of gaming, has anti-crime measures and protects children from exposure to gambling.

The announcement was made as the Government outlined the locations for the main element of liberalisation, a raft of new casinos, including one super casino. The super casino will be built in Manchester, beating favourites London and Blackpool to the right to host the massive enterprise.

Online gambling has suffered significant international setbacks in the last 12 months. The US sneaked an anti-online gambling measure in a port security bill in the dying days of the Republican-controlled Congress before control moved to the Democrats.

A number of UK businessmen who ran online gambling operations have been held in the US and though one was released another awaits trial.

Even in Europe there has been opposition to online gambling. In France the two joint chief executives of Bwin Interactive, an Austrian online gambling operator, were arrested for operating an operation that police said broke French law.

They were released and protested that the French Government's monopoly on lotteries break's European competition laws. A similar argument has been made in Germany over its state lotteries.

The heads of individual German states met late last year to discuss a ban on online gambling but put off the decision. Three German states, Bavaria, Saxony and Hesse, have instituted their own ban. Most of the states run monopoly lotteries and critics say they are keen to protect their position.

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