Who: UK parliament
When: 14 May 2014
Law stated as at: 2 June 2014
The Gambling (Licensing and Advertising) Act 2014 received Royal Assent on 14 May 2014, and is now expected to come into force later in 2014 – probably in September.
Why this matters:
Under the new legislation, media owners advertising online gambling operators to British consumers will risk committing an offence if the operator does not have a licence from the Gambling Commission. To date, gambling operators from other EEA states and select “white-listed” territories have been able to advertise lawfully to British consumers without having a domestic British licence.
The old strict liability offence of advertising foreign gambling is repealed under the new Act: instead the “advertising unlawful gambling” offence under section 330 of the Gambling Act 2005 will now have a wider remit. This at least offers media owners a defence if they “reasonably believed that the advertised gambling was lawful”.
As well as affecting media owners and offshore gambling operators, the change will also impact those who have sponsorship deals with offshore operators. Those operators will now have to get domestic UK licensing in place. (Note that the Gambling Commission has indicated it does not intend to offer any form of “advertising only” licence that could permit operators to advertise to overseas markets by means of (for instance) football sponsorships, without accepting transactions from British consumers. The Commission has stated it will “not normally license operators unless they have a British facing business and either currently transact with British consumers or have a clear business plan for doing so in the future”.)
From December 2014, gambling operators will also have to pay gambling tax on a “point-of-consumption” basis, meaning that even if they are based offshore they will be liable to account for tax to the extent their customers are onshore in the UK. So brands who have partnered with offshore operators – whether on a white-label basis or otherwise – may find the new regime impacts substantially on revenue share arrangements.
The Gambling Commission has published an updated FAQs document on implementation of the new Act, and associated transitional arrangements – see here.