UK May Crack Down on Offshore Online Gaming Operators

Europe’s online gambling marketplace may be much freer than the United States’, but it still has its trouble areas.

In the UK, the heart of the online gambling marketplace, a politician has discussed cracking down on online gaming operators based in other countries.

“[UK] Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt is planning to stop companies based overseas from advertising in this country amid mounting concern that millions are becoming addicted to gambling,” reports the Daily Mail.

“The moves would drive hundreds of foreign firms out of this country, officials believe.”

And, echoing the United States’ situation: “He is also considering a ban on the use of credit cards for internet gaming to stop people risking money they do not have, the Daily Mail has learned.”

This comes as a surprise; the UK is one of the world’s best regulated online gambling sectors. “Problem gambling” rumors are regularly brought up by gambling opponents but rarely blown to these proportions.

But with a closer look, the Hunt’s motives may be more economically based: “UK consumers spent £2.5billion on internet or telephone gambling, and operators licensed by the Gambling Commission represented less than a quarter of this.”

That means that a crackdown is likely to focus on offshore operators. Per the Daily Mail article, that’s likely to be companies based in other European countries, or established online gambling jurisdictions like the Isle of Man, Alderney, Antigua and the Australian state of Tasmania.

An International Issue
Trying to force out offshore operators so home-grown companies can bring in more profits — thus helping the country in question profit more — is becoming a bigger issue in other countries, as well. It’s at the heart of New Jersey’s new online gambling laws in the U.S., and it’s also a sore spot in the current French regulatory controversy, where “expensive betting licenses could block new entrants, and some [offshore] operators reported trouble getting the data needed for betting on horse racing, like schedules, horses and results,” according to Bloomberg news.

Then again, maybe the Daily Mail is deliberately stirring the pot? That seems to be the opinion at