Avoiding heavy British gambling taxes, but still accessing the UK market through advertising, could be a thing of the past according to a report in the Daily Mail newspaper this week.
Quoting an unnamed 'senior government source', the political editor of the newspaper claims that a dramatic crackdown on the internet gambling industry could be imminent in the UK, potentially excluding offshore operators from accessing Brit gamblers through an advertising ban.
Foreign operators licensed in acceptable offshore jurisdictions are permitted to advertise in terms of a British 'white list'.
The report claims that Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt is concerned at the level of problem gambling, and is also considering a ban on the use of credit cards for internet gaming to stop people risking money they do not have.
The political editor notes that such a ban on advertising and financial facilities could drive hundreds of foreign firms away from the UK, with a consequent loss of processing and advertising revenues.
The Daily Mail's source told the newspaper: "Ministers are concerned about the explosion of internet gambling advertising since (the political party then in power) Labour relaxed the gambling laws."
The official said that the current Conservative-LibDem coalition government wanted to protect the public from gambling companies that don't meet UK standards, but have been allowed to profit from Labour's lax approach to internet gambling.
Under the Gambling Act, any company that holds a licence for online gaming in the UK must carry out stringent checks to prevent children playing highly addictive games. But only operators who locate their key equipment in Britain are required to be licensed by the Gambling Commission.
Nations across Europe - and others on the 'white list' - can advertise their services in the UK without being subject to strict regulations. They include Alderney, the Isle of Man, Antigua and the Australian state of Tasmania.
The newspaper claims that UK consumers spent £2.5 billion on internet or telephone gambling last year, and operators licensed by the Gambling Commission represented less than a quarter of this.
"This means that UK consumers aren't being as well protected as they could be," said the government source.
"We are the only country to permit overseas operators to advertise whilst relying on an overseas licence on issues of playing protection," the source added, revealing that Secretary Hunt is considering overhauling the law so that all online and telephone gambling is regulated in Britain.
All those offering services in the UK market would have to hold a Gambling Commission licence and subject themselves to the provisions of the law.
Source: InfoPowa News