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UK gambling ad ban hits overseas operators

Except those in Alderney and the Isle of Man

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Online gambling companies based outside the European Economic Area are to be banned from advertising in the UK. The Gambling Act will be used to bar the advertising of over 1,000 websites.

The Secretary of State for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) James Purnell has laid the proposal before Parliament today in a bid to crack down on rogue gambling operators.

The ban will cover some big name gambling websites which are based in banned countries, such as William Hill Casino, Betfred Casino, and Littlewoodscasino.com.

"I make no apology for banning adverts for websites operating from places that don't meet our strict standards," said Purnell. "Protection is my number one priority."

The ban will apply to all forms of gambling advertising including television, radio, newspapers, magazines, taxis, buses, the tube, and some websites. If operators, publishers, broadcasters, and advertising companies accept adverts they could face fines or prison, said the DCMS.

The DCMS said it had asked all countries which hosted gambling sites to apply to be "white listed", which means that DCMS would look at its regulations and decide whether to permit sites based there to advertise.

Only two of the regions which applied to be white listed, Alderney and the Isle of Man, were approved. "Only Alderney and the Isle of Man were able to demonstrate that they had in place a rigorous licensing regime designed to stop children gambling, protect vulnerable people, keep games fair and keep out crime," said a DCMS statement.

"The fact that only Alderney and the Isle of Man have been able to meet the high standards demanded by our white listing criteria shows how tough the Gambling Act is. Indeed, white listing has actually helped drive up regulatory standards in some countries," said Purnell.

"The Isle of Man, for example, has made significant improvements to their regulatory regime in order to secure a place on the white list. This includes requiring all licensees to make contributions to problem gambling research, education and treatment in line with requirement on UK operators," he said.

Among the most popular countries for hosting gambling websites are Antigua, Costa Rica, Canadian reservation Kanawake, and Netherlands Antilles.

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OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.

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