GBGA Fails In Bid Stop UK Licensing Bill
The Gibraltar Betting and Gaming Association has failed in its bid to prevent the implementation of the UK Gambling (Licensing and Advertising) Act after a High Court Judge decided the GBGA had not provided sufficient proof that the new regime was unlawful under domestic or European Union laws.
Gibraltar’s gaming regulator, along with a number of high profile operators headquartered in the jurisdiction, sought to block the new laws which will require that all UK-facing online gaming operators hold a license issued by the UKGC and pay 15% tax on any online revenue earned from players living in the United Kingdom.
The Gibraltar Betting and Gaming Association argued that the new licensing regulations could render any current licenses held in other jurisdictions null and void. They also argued that the 15% tax would be tantamount to double taxation as they would have to pay tax to the country they were headquartered in as well as the United Kingdom.
The UK had set an October 1st implementation deadline for operators but were forced to stall so that the presiding High Court Judge, Nicholas Green, would have enough time to deliberate and make an informed decision. Something he would not be able to do given the impending implementation deadline.
The new act will now officially be implemented on November 1 despite the challenge from the GBGA. High Court Judge Nicholas Green, at the closing of the hearings, wrote:
In relation to the issues arising, I have concluded that the Claimant has not established that the new regime is unlawful under EU law or domestic law. It is neither disproportionate, nor discriminatory, nor is it irrational. The new regime serves a series of legitimate objectives. There is no reason to doubt Parliament’s judgment that it will achieve a reasonable degree of effectiveness and there in no proper basis or concluding that it is or will be discriminatory in its effects. Further, I reject the submission that the new regime will create perverse incentives and lead to the creation of an illicit market of unscrupulous service providers. I also reject the submission that the passporting proposal would meet the legitimate objectives of Parliament or prove effective or achievable without significant bureaucracy or extra cost. My conclusions in relations to the decision of Parliament to adopt the new legislative regime apply equally to the position of the GC in relation to implementation.
The “passporting plan” mentioned in the closing statement was a plan submitted by the GBGA in which qualified regulators in other jurisdictions, such as Gibraltar, would retain the responsibility for the licensing of their own operators whilst sharing any and all data with the United Kingdom Gambling Commission.
As final touch, to dash the hopes of the Gibraltar regulator , the High Court Judge ordered the GBGA to pay £100 000 so as to cover the legal costs of the United Kingdom Gambling Commission. A spokesperson for the GBGA declined to comment on whether they would appeal the ruling and based on prior rulings and a lack of support, an appeal appears to be an unnecessary folly for the embattled regulator.
If no appeal is made, the new UK Gambling (Licensing and Advertising Act) 2014, will take effect as of the 1st of November and the point of consumption tax expected to be implemented a month later, on the December the 1st.
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