Are Online Gaming Operators To Blame For New UK Licensing Regulations?
There has been an outburst lately with regards to the new licensing regulations being brought forward by the UK Gambling Commission on October 1st. However, are offshore, tax dodging online gaming operators to blame for the stricter licensing, tax and advertising regulations?
As it stands, there has been a mass exodus of online gaming operators from the United Kingdom with both big and small names running for the proverbial border. However, there are some, those located in the United Kingdom, that have complied with the new regulations, applied for their license and have been duly awarded the necessary documentation to continue accepting wagers from UK players.
Some websites, such as Mansion, have decided to remove certain offerings from the UK market, the ones they feel do not have the necessary following or financial benefits of staying in the UK. This is why Mansion Poker announced their withdrawal from the UK a few weeks ago.
But, for some operators, trimming their offerings is not a viable alternative and are choosing to open dedicated UK websites that comply with the new license requirements and are not subject to the additional 15% tax. This includes the likes of PokerStars who have withdrawn their main site and plan to open a new PokerStars.co.uk site that will be headquartered in the United Kingdom and therefore not subject to the regulations imposed on foreign casinos operating in the UK.
Even though there are certain routes online gaming operators can take to comply, if they don’t, their time in the UK may not have come to an end as they will be able to apply for a license at a later date. The 1 October deadline set by the gambling commission is merely for those who wish to continue operating whilst the new licenses are being authorized and issued.
At the moment, there are casinos that missed the September 16 deadline for applications, despite an extension, and as such, have been forced to cease operations while they wait or apply for the new license.
As sudden and unwelcome as the new regulations may be, some may argue that the online gambling operators brought it on themselves. For several years this issue has been raised by the gambling commission who has finally decided to act.
For a long time many operators have skirted paying taxes by moving their operations offshore in places like Malta, Gibraltar and Antigua but continued to accept wagers from residents of the UK. Other companies have always had their headquarters in the UK but have accepted wagers from players living in tax-free jurisdictions.
Details of the bill, dubbed the UK Gambling, License and Advertising Bill, require that all casino, poker and sportsbook sites need to apply for a special UK license before they can accept wagers from players living in the United Kingdom. If the companies are not located in the UK, an additional 15% tax would be enforced upon those operators that wanted to offer their services to players within the United Kingdom. The new license will also permit license holders to advertise their services in the UK and without it, operators will risk fines if they advertise.
Some within the online gambling industry, most notably the Gibraltar Gaming Commission, have fought the new bill as they say it favors UK operators. However, there are those that have said the new regulations are merely seeking to gain some control over wayward online casinos, poker room and sportsbooks.
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