The UK’s Gambling (Licensing and Advertising) Act 2014 came into force on November 1. For most online gamblers in the UK, this act means little in and of itself. But if you bet at offshore or remote casinos, there are one or two things that you may be interested to know concerning the new gambling law.
What does it do?
The first thing that most people want to know about with any new law, is how will it affect them? What will the new Gambling (Licensing and Advertising) Act do? Basically, it is an amendment to the already existing Gambling Act, which was passed in 2005.
The first part of the act stipulates that all remote casino operators (namely those that operate outside of the United Kingdom) need to hold a UK operating licence in order to provide services to players based in Great Britain. In short, players in Britain can only play at UK licensed online gambling sites and still expect any protection in case of disputes.
Bad news for operators
Previously, any online gambling site operators which were located in Europe, Gibraltar, Alderney, the Isle of Man, Tasmania or even Antigua and Barbuda did not have to apply for a license to offer their services to UK players. This has now changed. Every online casino, bingo site, poker domain or sportsbook must obtain a UK license in order to offer gaming to UK players. This will no doubt prove to be quite costly to smaller casinos based offshore, and it may be simpler for many of them to simply deny players access to their gaming domains, if they are based in the UK.
Money, money, money
You might wonder why the UK government has suddenly decided to change this. Well, many people may say that it is to protect the rights of UK gamers, or that it is meant to cut out an unfair advantage given to offshore sites (as they were not previously inclined to pay duty on profits). To a certain extent these are valid points.
The real answer, though, surely lies in the business of taxation. The Act dictates that all UK licensed online casinos that are located offshore must still pay gambling duty (i.e. tax) on all revenue made from players based in Great Britain. At present, this tax-rate is 15% of gross profits on all transactions for players who reside in the United Kingdom. As is often the way, it could all just be about money after all.
How does that affect advertising, though? That bit is quite simple. Now that the act has become law, only fully UK licensed online gambling operators will be permitted to advertise their sites to players in the United Kingdom.
What if your favorite casino is based abroad?
Offshore casinos may find UK licenses too costly, but barring UK players from playing at their casinos may actually cost them far more. The UK is a heavy consumer in terms of online gaming and gambling services. If the remote casinos choose not to block UK players, then players could continue to play illegally at offshore sites, in much the same manner that US players have done over the last decade. If you want to play by the book, and expect the regulators to look after you in case of a dispute, you may have to change casinos to a UK licensed one.