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The current regulatory structure for online gambling was set up under the Gambling Act 2005. At present, an operating licence from the Gambling Commission is only required if at least one piece of “remote gambling equipment” is located in Great Britain. Remote operators who locate all of their equipment offshore do not require a licence and are not subject to the regulatory supervision of the Commission.

The 2005 Act also regulates the advertising of gambling services. Operators based outside Britain but licensed in EEA member states and Gibraltar can advertise in the UK. In addition, the Secretary of State has made regulations so that operators licensed in the Isle of Man, Alderney, Tasmania, and Antigua and Barbuda can advertise their services (the “white list”). Operators regulated outside the EEA (and Gibraltar) or the white listed countries are prohibited from advertising in the UK.

A number of concerns have been raised about the current system: for example, British consumers may experience differing levels of protection depending on which operator they are dealing with; problems with the reporting of suspicious betting activity taking place on overseas licensed sites; and the Gambling Commission’s inability to conduct thorough investigations due to a lack of detailed information from overseas.

The draft Bill would amend the 2005 Act so that all remote operators selling into the British market would be required to hold a Gambling Commission licence and therefore be subject to the provisions of the Act and the Commission’s social responsibility and technical standard requirements. Operators would also have to contribute towards regulatory costs and to education and treatment in relation to British problem gambling. The “white list” would be phased out.

The Bill extends to England and Wales and Scotland. Clauses 2 and 4 also extend to Northern Ireland.

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