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Online Casinos U.K.

The online casino industry of the United Kingdom is the most developed in the world. At the same time, new online casinos laws in the U.K. threaten to undermine the industry, as U.K. gaming companies find it harder to make a profit. Also, the Firewall of Britain is known to block online gamblers from connecting to sites outside the U.K., which makes it harder to bet online. Some punters are required to sign paperwork with their ISP to regain the ability to gamble electronically.

Gambling Act 2005

A number of laws regulate U.K. gambling, though most of those laws don't pertain to the online casino industry. For instance, the Betting and Gaming Act 1960 regulates bingo gaming, The Gaming Act 1968 opened the door for commercial land-based casinos, and The Gambling Act 2005 set the table for larger resort-style casinos, though Gordon Brown abolished the law when he took office in 2007. The online gambling provisions of that law remain in effect.

The Gambling Commission

The Gambling Commission is the overarching oversight division for most forms of gambling in the United Kingdom. The remote industry was regulated by the Gambling Act of 2005, creating one of the most complex government oversight systems in the world.

Besides the British laws on gambling, many of the top gaming regulators worldwide are associated with the former British Empire. In some cases, they remain a part of the Commonwealth of Nations. Below are the various U.K.-influenced gaming associations you might want to know about.

Isle of Man - Gambling Supervision Commission

The Isle of Man or “Mann” is an island between northwest England and Northern Ireland where a Gaelic people called the Manx live. The island is a British crown dependency, so it offers a tax shelter for British companies who locate there. A number of U.K. gaming companies based themselves on the Isle of Man, including PokerStars.

The Manx Gambling Supervision Commission licenses online gambling sites. Companies like Microgaming, Paddy Power Holdings Limited, Rational Enterprises (including PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker), Boylesports, Novigroup, and Cozy Games Management Limited are all licensed by the gaming authority.

Alderney - Gaming Control Commission

The Gambling Control Commission of Alderney is another British-controlled regulatory agency. Alderney is a Crown dependency and one of the Channel Islands, in the English Channel between England and France. Alderney sits just off the coast of Normandy, France. It has a population of a little over 1,900.

Amaya Gaming, Ainsworth Game Technology (AGT) out of Australia, BGO, Genting Alderney Ltd, International Game Technology (IGT), NetEnt, Parlay Games, Playtech, Totesport, Virtue Fusion and Unibet all have licenses on the island.

Antigua & Barbuda - Directorate of Offshore Gaming

The Directorate of Offshore Gaming on the island nation of Antigua and Barbuda is another key licensing agency. Under provisions of the Interactive Gaming and Interactive Wagering Regulations (amended in 2007), Antigua licenses companies like Lotto Ltd., Coolidge, Gaming Ventures Limited, PT Entertainment Services, Continental Ventures and Zirconium Gaming Limited. At one time, Antigua licensed many more gaming companies, but the United States began to punish the small Caribbean country of 81,000 in the wake of the UIGEA law.

Antigua won several court cases in the WTO court against the U.S. for violations of international trade laws, but it has been unable to enforce those decisions on the larger country. In 2013, Antigua and Barbuda was given the right to pirate American intellectual property to collect its revenues, but the government has refused to do so at the present time, for fear of harming uninvolved U.S. companies. The British ruled the islands from 1632 to 1981, so Antigua is dominated by British thoughts on laws, education and gaming freedom.

Malta Gaming Authority

Malta is an island in the central Mediterranean Sea that has served as a strategic base for many empires throughout the centuries, including naval powers ranging from Athens, Carthage, Rome, France and England. From 1800 to 1964, the British Empire controlled the island, so the Republic of Malta is heavily influenced by English common law.

The Malta Gaming Authority licenses many U.K. and European gaming companies, including top companies like Betfair, Digimedia Ltd, Rational Gaming Europe, Skill on Net, BML Group, Cosmo Gaming Company, Go Wild Malta, Mr Green, Greentube, Boss Media, Net Entertainment Malta, Thunderkick, Yggdrasil Gaming and Betsson.

Gibraltar Remote Gambling

Gibraltar is a British Overseas Territory located at the tip of Spain. The small region has a population of 30,000 and serves as a naval chokepoint in the western Mediterranean between Europe and Africa (Morocco). In Gibraltar, a division of HM Government of Gibraltar called “Remote Gambling” is the regulation and oversight agency for online gambling. Once again, Gibraltar is a key headquarters for many of the publicly traded gaming companies on the London Stock Exchange.

The list of websites licensed in Gibraltar reads like a who’s who of online gambling: Ladbrokes, bwin.party digital entertainment, Mansion Online Casino Ltd, 32 Red Plc, GTECH, Victor Chandler, Stan James, IGT, Tombola, Bally Technologies, Gala Interactive, Scientific Games, and NYX Gaming. The Gibraltar Licensing Authority has approved a number of third-party auditors for testing over the years, including eCOGRA, iTech Labs, Gaming Associates, GLI Europe (formerly Technical Systems Testing), NMI Metrology & Gaming, BMM Compliance, and SQS India Infosystems.

U.K. Gaming Authorities

One might argue the Kahnawake Gaming Authority of Canada is influenced by the British gaming laws, given Canada’s long association with the British Crown. Given it’s a native American gaming enclave, I chose not to discuss it in great detail here. I’ll discuss Kahnawake on the “Online Casinos U.K.” page.

Point-of-Consumption Tax

After years of being the chief hub of online gambling in the world, the Parliament of the U.K. passed a “Point-of-Consumption” tax which went into effect in November 2014. This law tried to end the process of U.K. gaming companies relocating to offshore areas, especially Gibraltar and Malta, for tax evasion purposes. Now, the U.K. taxes gaming companies not based on their location, but the location of the gambler. The government now takes 15 percent of all casino winnings for those living in the United Kingdom.

Many British gaming companies have been concerned about the tax, and have been expanding operations into Europe since the announcement of the tax.