UK Licensing Requirements to Affect Internet Bingo
The current UK Sports Minister Gerry Sutcliffe has announced that any offshore gaming website, including internet bingo websites that have or want to establish a customer base in the UK will need to be licensed and regulated by the UK Gambling Commission. A consultation period will take place before any new measures are introduced and it was revealed that land based bingo operators will participate in the process. Recent tax hikes have sent many UK based internet bingo providers offshore.
The new regulations are expected to require extensive collaboration between the gaming industries to share information on problem gamblers and suspicious wagering patterns. Protecting children and vulnerable gamblers will be emphasized and internet bingo companies targeting a UK audience will be required to research about problem gambling in the UK. Internet bingo providers will be expected to contribute to the Gambling Research Education and Treatment foundation. (GREAT)
Sutcliffe feels that offshore operators do not contribute enough to the UK’s tax base and the suggested regulations will level the playing field between the internet and land based bingo industries. The new regulations will also restrict advertising by offshore bingo providers and it is widely believed that offshore bingo providers will lose their competitive edge in the UK. Many internet bingo providers have moved offshore to escape taxation requirements and the government’s position is that these companies should contribute to the nation’s tax base. Under the new regulations a license would be required to advertise in the UK.
Some expect the new regulations to spark a debate between the UK and the European Union and that the European Commission may argue that the new rules violate the E.U. rules of free trade. The high rate of taxation has sent several internet bingo companies and gaming sites offshore where the tax rates are lower and regulation is minimal at best. Some industry experts believe that it will be difficult to persuade the European Union to agree to a separate regulatory system for the UK especially if some of the internet bingo providers are based in Europe. The land based bingo industry welcomes the new regulations and believes that they will level the playing field between the internet bingo industry and its land based counterparts.
The new regulations will make internet bingo much safer. UK bingo players will be assured that licensed bingo sites are safe. Times have never been better for UK bingo players. Competition is keen and bingo websites are offering players unheard of bingo bonuses. Many sites have bingo sign up bonuses and free play options to attract new players. In addition to sign up bonuses many bingo sites also give players a bingo deposit bonus. Times have never been better for UK internet bingo players.
By Anthony Wayne
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