New UK Gambling Regs Could Send Punters Offshore

Online gambling has been a very lucrative industry of operators and players. In most European countries and the UK internet gambling is taxed and regulated. The UK was the first country to regulate online gambling and all efforts have been successful.  British players can be confident that sites licensed in the UK are fair and honest and the EU imposes strict regulations on most forms of internet gambling. In the US the situation is much different and there is a thriving black market for online gambling thanks to ill advised laws and anti gambling extremists. American laws have left punters in the US at the mercy of offshore gaming operators that may or may not be fair and honest.

In the UK some are calling for stricter controls on internet gambling. One major proposal would require all gambling sites accepting wagers in the UK to obtain a UK gaming license and pay taxes. Recently the UK Treasury reviewed the £1.7 billion UK online gambling market and is now considering new taxes and regulations. UK gaming giant William Hill, which has a 10% share of the UK online gaming market commissioned its own study which was done by business services provider Deloittes. The results of the study show that a proposed secondary gambling tax at the point of consumption could send 40% of UK punters to offshore gaming sites. According to the study the proposed taxes will put internet bingo and gaming operators at a competitive disadvantage with offshore gaming sites which pay lower taxes in their licensing jurisdictions.

Some gaming industry experts expect the UK Treasury to levy a 15% tax on internet bingo and gaming companies sometime next year. The report by Derloittes says that if taxes reach excessive levels two fifths of all legitimate internet gaming operators will exit the UK internet gambling industry. The study says the proposed policies would send many UK online gamblers to offshore gaming sites and that players would take their chances with UK law enforcement agencies. A spokesman for William Hill stated “The question for the Government is, should it introduce policy which distorts markets?”

Proponents of the new policies say that UK players at offshore gaming sites have no support from the UK Gambling Commission which cannot regulate offshore websites. Some online gambling critics say that there is not enough emphasis on problem gambling which is a bigger problem online than it is at live casinos. Only time will tell which side is right.