U.K. Plans Gambling Ads Ban

Britain plans to ban advertising from approximately 1,000 gambling
Web sites located in countries that do not meet the U.K. government’s
regulatory standards. The ban would include sites from some of the most
popular countries hosting online gambling operations.

Under the provisions of a new law set to be effective Sept. 1, countries
that wanted to be exempt from the ad ban had to pass a U.K. assessment
of their regulatory standards, including protections to stop underage
gambling and keep the wagering fair. The ban does not apply to countries
in the European Economic Area (EEA).

Costa Rica and Belize, two of the world’s more popular spots for online
gambling operations, did not bother to apply. Antigua, which hosts more
than 500 online gambling sites, has a pending application with the U.K.

The ban will apply to all forms of gambling advertising from excluded
jurisdictions including TV, radio, newspapers, magazines, taxis, buses,
subways and Web sites located in the U.K. If operators, publishers,
broadcasters and advertising companies break the rules, they could face
fines or even imprisonment.

“I make no apology for banning adverts for Web sites operating from
places that don’t meet our strict standards. Protection is my No. 1
priority,” U.K. Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport James
Purnell said in a statement.

Only two British crown dependencies — Alderney and the Isle of Man —
were able to demonstrate that they had a rigorous licensing regime in place.

“The fact that only Alderney and the Isle of Man have been able to meet
the high standards demanded by our white-listing criteria shows how
tough the Gambling Act is,” Purnell said. “Indeed white listing has
actually helped drive up regulatory standards in some countries.”

Purnell particularly cited the Isle of Man for making “significant
improvements” in its regulation of online gambling sites located in the
country. All licensees, for instance, must make contributions to problem
gambling research, education and treatment in line with requirement of
U.K. operators.

The U.K. Gambling Act of 2005 bans companies based in countries,
territories or jurisdictions outside the EEA from advertising foreign
gambling in the UK, unless they can demonstrate that they have a
satisfactory regulatory regime in place.

In addition to protecting children, the standards include rules on money
laundering, financial audits and fair-tax principles. The countries were
also rated on openness and equal availability and treatment of online

According to the U.K. government, there are approximately 2,300 gambling
Web sites worldwide. Antigua tops the list with 537 sites, followed Costa
Rica (474), Canada’s Kahnawake Indian reservation (401) and the
Netherland Antilles (343).

News Around the Web