UK Gambling Commission CEO expects 150 licence applications

By Emma Rumney
The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) is anticipating the reception of around 150 licence applications following the introduction of new UK gambling laws.

Jenny Williams, UKGC CEO, gave the information during an interview at the eighth World Gaming Executive Summit, which kicked off in Barcelona on 8 July with a day devoted to discussing regulation.

Williams said the UKGC had “already had a few applications” and a lot of firms coming to discuss their application ahead of the implementation of regulatory reforms in October.

She said that the UKGC would be “extraordinarily surprised” if legal challenges from the Gibraltar Betting and Gaming Association (GBCA) delayed the UKGC’s implementation schedule.

The GBCA posits that the new laws - which mean that from 1 October any operator catering or advertising to customers within the UK, even if they are based remotely, must hold a UK licence and pay a 15% place-of-consumption tax on gross gaming revenues - contravene EU treaties and increase risk to consumers.

The Gambling (Licensing and Advertising) Act, 2014 alters the licensing landscape outlined by the Gambling Act 2005 which allowed remote operators serving UK customers to base and licence themselves offshore.

Operators do not currently require a UK licence to legally trade with customers in the country if they hold a licence from a white-listed jurisdiction such as the Isle of Man, Alderney or an EU/EEA jurisdiction like Malta.

For operators who are currently legally able to provide gambling facilities to Great Britain under this legislation, transitional licences have been introduced which will allow them to continue to trade while their UK licence application is considered.

Williams said that while “nothing is certain of course”, as far as the UKGC are concerned it is “full steam ahead” despite complaints from the GBCA.

She added: “It wouldn’t be fair to those that have spent a lot of time getting ready to hold back now.”

Williams also spoke about the regulator’s new requirement to examine whether operators are compliant with laws in the other jurisdictions that they operate.

She explained that UKGC licensees were “multi-jurisdictional applicants selling worldwide” and that the Commission “want to have some idea if they are wilfully disregarding somebody else’s regulations”.

She continued to say that the financial stability of licensees will be taken into consideration and that companies with “a lot of risk in grey markets” would be a cause for concern.

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