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The Gambling (Licensing and Advertising) Bill, which provides for the regulation of remote gambling in Great Britain to change to a “point of consumption” basis, has received its first reading in the House of Commons. With cross party support (as anticipated) the Bill may pass into legislation with little revision even before the summer recess, although implementation is not expected until 2014.
Under the provisions of the Bill as currently drafted, the location of “remote gambling equipment” in Britain would no longer be the only trigger for a requirement to obtain a British remote gambling licence. Those with equipment elsewhere but who wish to deal with British residents will require a licence as well.
The offence in section 33 of the Gambling Act 2005 and the related provisions of section 36 would be amended. Furthermore, the offence of “advertising foreign gambling” in section 331 would be repealed, with the existing section 330 offence (“advertising unlawful gambling”) covering the position where an overseas operator fails to obtain the required licence and yet promotes his services in Britain.
As a result, the provisions which created the so-called “white list” (section 331(4)) will no longer form part of the Act. Licensees of any overseas jurisdiction will require a British licence, irrespective of whether they happen to be located in a (former) “white list” country, although those located in well-regarded jurisdictions (which will include the “white list” countries) will face less scrutiny and may be awarded temporary transitional licences so as not to have to suspend their activities pending licensure.
With the European Commission having recently decided not to issue a “reasoned opinion” in respect of the draft legislation after it was notified, the prospects of a successful challenge on the basis of inconsistency with EU law may be reduced, although a number of interested parties are considering a challenge. Their principal focus will be on whether the provisions of the Bill are necessary and proportionate.
Meanwhile, the Treasury is preparing to publish a response to the consultation on the design of the proposed parallel legislation which will introduce point of consumption taxation for online gambling. It is now suggested that such tax changes might be forced through even if the social legislation is successfully challenged, although in such circumstances enforcement against overseas companies would in some cases present considerable difficulty.
The Gaming and Betting team at Jeffrey Green Russell Limited is top rated by both Chambers and Partners and the Legal 500, recognising it as amongst the very best teams in the country. We are ideally placed to advise remote gambling companies who may wish to learn more about the proposed legislative changes in Great Britain. We look forward to hearing from you.
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