UK Gambling Act Could Serve as Template For US Internet Gambling Legislation

In the not so distant past any attempt to decipher US internet gambling laws was a gamble at best. Recently the US Justice Department clarified its position on internet gambling in a memo released in December 2011. The release of the memo sent gaming stocks soaring on global exchanges and several states announced plans to offer online games to residents. Many in the internet gambling industry are hoping for federal legislation that would establish a national framework for gaming operators. There is one country where legalization, regulation and taxation of internet gaming has been a resounding success; the United Kingdom. In 2005 Parliament passed the Gambling Act which has enabled the internet gaming industry to thrive and create thousands of new jobs. The act created the world’s largest regulated internet gambling market and there have been few problems.

The United States could learn a thing or two from the British system. The Gambling act has protected children; cut crime associated with internet gambling and assures players that all games are fair. Operators must prove they can meet the standards of the Gambling act and must act in a socially responsible manner if they wish to remain in business. At the time the act was passed critics predicted an onslaught of problem gamblers that never materialized. Internet gaming operators must provide links and information about organizations that treat problem gambling. The UK Gambling act regulates gaming in arcades and adult gaming centres, betting, bingo, casinos, gambling in clubs and pubs, private lotteries and remote (Internet) gambling. The act also allows casinos, bookmakers, internet bingo sites and online betting sites to advertise their services on television for the first time. This has been a boon for the advertising industry and has generated millions in new revenues and created hundreds of new jobs.

The act gave the UK Gambling Commission the power to levy fines against violators, prosecute offenders, withdraw gambling licenses, start prosecutions, seize assets and enter gambling premises. The act also gave certain powers to local authorities. The results have been nothing short of spectacular. Today online bingo is the fastest growing sector of the UK gaming industry. Industry experts believe that mobile gaming will drive future growth. Federal legislators in the United States should take a close look at the UK Gambling Act which could easily serve as a template for US gaming legislation. The UK has a thriving internet gaming market that benefits both players and government interests.