The GBGA (Gibraltar Betting and Gaming Association), which represents online gambling operators based in Gibraltar, recently informed the UK Gambling Commission and UK government of its intention to apply for a judicial review of the changes set out in recent publication of the Gambling (Licensing and Advertising) Act.
Under this new Act that was given Royal Assent in May 2014 all remote gambling operators in the UK market are required to obtain a license from the Gambling Commission to allow them to both transact with British customers and also advertise in the UK.
This also means that operators outside of the UK will be required to pay and contribute to research, education and treatments for British problem gambling and regulatory costs through the new “point of consumption” tax at 15%.
Through the law firm Olswang the GBGA have argued that the new Act is unnecessary and will expose the UK market to un-licensed operators throughout the World in a statement the CEO of the GBGA, Peter Howitt is reported to have said,
“This is bad for UK consumers, bad for the regulated industry, bad for Gibraltar and is in breach of European law, but fantastic news for operators who choose to avoid proper regulation”
Through the law firm Olswang the GBGA have argued that the new Act is unnecessary and breaches Article 56 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and is therefore unlawful.
Dan Tench (partner at Olswang) is reported to have said,
“All this Act achieves is a wholly unjustified, disproportionate and discriminatory interference with the right to free movement of services, a right enshrined in European Law. For these reasons the Government must reconsider this law or we shall have no option but to ask the courts to review it for them.”
The GNGA has noted that the UK government has so far rejected their proposed ‘Passporting’ system whereby highly experienced local regulators retain responsibility for licensing their domestic industry, by working and sharing information with the UK on a formal basis.
Operators such as Ladbrokes, William Hill and Bet365 have decided not to be associated with the GBGA’s attempt to get a judicial review and some are already declaring they intend to stay put in Gibraltar.
The big question really, with or without this judicial review, is where next for Gibraltar and it’s online gaming industry? It’s going to be an interesting few months ahead.