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The Gambling (Licensing and Advertising) Bill Receives Royal Assent

UK

The Gambling (Licensing an Advertising) Bill has received Royal Assent and is therefore now law in the United Kingdom.

With it receiving Royal Assent, the Bill becomes an Act and as a result, any offshore gambling operator has to apply for a license to offer its services to British consumers and then pay 15% tax on any profits derived from UK-based customers.

For the first time ever, offshore operators are required to inform the Gambling Commission about any suspicious betting patterns in an attempt to help fight corruption in sports betting. Many operators already do this – Betfair regularly flag suspicious betting – but now they have to by the terms of their licenses.

Helen Grant, the Minister for Sport, welcomed the new requirements: “This Act marks a significant step in increasing protection to consumers based in Great Britain, by ensuring that all remote gambling operators will be subject to robust and consistent regulation. This includes a requirement for operators to support action against illegal activity and corruption in sport, and to comply with licence conditions that protect children and vulnerable adults”

Although Royal Assent was received on May 14, it will take several months for the Act to come fully into force, giving offshore gambling sites time to get their house in order. The Gambling Commission does not expect to enforce the new law before September 1, 2014.

Operators will be invited to apply for a license from mid-July and face additional costs when they do so. For example, an operator wishing to offer sports betting will have to spend more than £19,500 to apply for a license and then budget for an annual fee of almost £118,000.

In addition to these extra costs, offshore operators are now also required to help fund research, treatment and education in relation to British problem gambling and regulatory costs.

The Chairman of the Gambling Commission, Philip Graf, says the new Act will protect players: “This is a welcome step forward - bringing the 85% of the remote gambling market currently regulated overseas within the Commission’s remit will provide us with direct access to and oversight of all commercial gambling provided to those in Britain. This means that we will be far better placed to protect players and to respond to and advise the government on emerging player protection and consumer risks and issues.”

British bookmakers who have operations overseas including William Hill, Ladbrokes and Betfair saw their share price fall after the passing of the Act, with each losing around 3-5% of its share value.

You can find more information on the implementation of the Gambling (Licensing and Advertising) Act at the Gambling Commission’s FAQ page, here.

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