Online gambling legal environment in the United Kingdom (U.K.) is fast changing. Recently, the U.K. Gaming (Licensing and Advertising) Bill Passed the Third Reading in the House of Commons. The Gambling (Licensing and Advertising) Bill of United Kingdom 2013 (PDF) is an attempt on the part of U.K. to streamline online and remote gambling in UK. It is accompanied with the Pre Legislative Scrutiny Of The Draft Gambling (Licensing And Advertising) Bill Sixth Report of Session 2012–13 Volume I (PDF) and Pre Legislative Scrutiny Of The Draft Gambling (Licensing And Advertising) Bill Sixth Report of Session 2012–13 Volume II (PDF). UK MPs have debated remaining stages of the Gambling (Licensing and Advertising) Bill 2013- Third Reading Dated 26 November 2013 (PDF).
In a related development, the British government’s attempts to help protect users against illegal online casinos has been slowed down after Internet service providers (ISPs) in the country denied requests to insert “warning pages” on gambling sites that are unlicensed in the U.K. The warning pages would act to alert users to the unlicensed nature of the site they are accessing, much as warnings are enforced on sites with pornographic content which advise users of illicit images.
To give effect to their intention, the Gambling Commission that regulates commercial gambling in the U.K. met with ISPs like BT and TalkTalk hoping that the ISPs would agree to the so-called “splash pages”. However, the ISPs refused to cooperate and have insisted on a court order or primary legislation to enact the move before they will take any action.
Those close to the talks between the different bodies have stated that the government’s request which was put forward to the Internet service providers illustrates that the Gambling Commission is having difficulty clamping down on unlicensed and offshore gambling websites. This is natural as well as due to conflict of laws in online gambling field.
While the Commission may have jurisdiction over commercial gambling within the UK, they have no authority over sites being operated overseas which can be accessed by UK punters, and can therefore offer little protection to residents in Britain.
The Commission’s scramble for help from the broadband suppliers comes after new legislation which will see tax and licensing dependent on where the customer lives, rather than where the operators are located, which many licensed operators believe will go unenforced due to an inability to regulate unlicensed operators.
The stumbling blocks that the Commission is tripping over just adds further evidence to the difficulty faced by governments when trying to regulate the Internet, as local laws and regulations are frequently unenforceable in relation to offshore companies, which also realise they can often get away with noncompliance.