Peter Howitt

GBGA questions Gambling Commission advertising policy

Peter Howitt
Peter Howitt

A new law that establishes the Gambling Commission as the industry’s global regulator threatens the safety of consumers online and is unlawful, claims the Gibraltar Betting and Gaming Association.

The GBGA, which represents Gibraltar-based online gambling operators, instructed law firm Olswang to write to the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Sajid Javid MP, the Attorney General, Dominic Grieve QC MP and the Gambling Commission to spell out the risks posed by the Gambling (Licensing and Advertising) Act 2014 and declare its intention to challenge it.

This follows confirmation that providers must hold an operating licence when advertising throughout Britain, irrespective of whether they take any business from UK-based customers or not, under the Point of Consumption tax set to be implemented on Dec 1st. These measures could spell the end of lucrative multi-million pound sports sponsorship agreements and partnerships.

Currently, British consumers gamble online with limited numbers of licensed operators based in recognised jurisdictions. However, the group argues that under the proposed new regime, the UK would open the market to operators based anywhere in the world, some of whom are unlicensed.

Chief Executive Peter Howitt believes forthcoming regulation, combined with planned tax changes, will drive consumers to the unregulated or poorly regulated market, and so ensure that a significant proportion of UK consumers will be unprotected when they play and bet with foreign operators.

“This is bad for UK consumers, bad for the regulated industry, bad for Gibraltar and is in breach of European law, but fantastic news for operators who choose to avoid proper regulation.

“We know of no precedent where any regulator in any industry will be granted the role of licensing and regulating operators all over the world in this way, threatening to criminalise companies and people who fail to submit to its regime.  This is plainly unworkable.  The likely impact of this legislation will be to drive UK consumers towards unregulated or poorly regulated operators, leaving them exposed to unnecessary risks.  This Act allows operators from 165 new jurisdictions to gain licences to operate and advertise in the UK and the Gambling Commission is supposed to regulate this industry with no extra-territorial information gathering or enforcement powers.  Clearly that spells a new danger for British consumers.”

The commission has six days in which to respond.

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