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Web Gambling in U.K. Faces Tough New Rules

The U.K.’s new gambling bill will require online gambling operators to hold a license in the U.K. to advertise and sell their games to British customers.

The bill has been approved by Parliament’s Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport, and now moves to the House of Commons for consideration.

Currently, offshore operators—and most are offshore to avoid corporate tax and a 15 percent levy on gambling revenue—are regulated in the jurisdictions where they are based, including British companies.

The cabinet-level Department for Culture, Media and Sport, which oversees the industry, believes the legislation will increase protection for U.K. consumers, and will support the fight against illegal activities, principally corruption in sports since all licensed operators will have to inform the Gambling Commission, the country’s chief regulator, about suspicious betting patterns involving British customers.

Operators will also have to contribute to research, education and treatment in relation to British problem gambling and comply with license conditions to prevent participation by minors and other vulnerable individuals.

The bill, DCMS says, will “level the regulatory field” for all operators, allowing those based in Britain “to compete on an equal footing.”

Importantly, this includes the thorny issue of taxation. The reforms include a new point-of-consumption tax on the industry.