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"Amateur night" criticism for UK Gambling Commission

Discussion in 'Casino Industry Discussion' started by jetset, Jun 7, 2007.

    Jun 7, 2007
  1. jetset

    jetset Ueber Meister CAG

    Senior Partner, InfoPowa News Service

    Sportingbet chief exec not impressed by Brit government's "amateur night" planning

    Sportingbet chief exec Andrew McIver let rip at the UK government over its handling of gambling regulation this week in an interview with The Independent....and he didn't mince his words in doing so.

    Commenting on government gambling policy, he said it had been run like an "amateur night".

    McIver was speaking as the company took a relocation charge of more than GBP 10 million in its third-quarter results (see previous InfoPowa report) as a consequence of its decision to move all operations requiring a licence to the Channel Islands.

    He said Sportingbet had been left with no choice but to make the move to Guernsey because "the way Government gambling policy has been handled, it's just like amateur night".

    McIver went on: "We have computer systems that need to be updated. If we don't meet their [the new Gambling Commission] requirements by September we will be committing a criminal offence. The problem is we don't know what the requirements are.

    "We don't want to leave this country - we never did - but we feel we have no choice. You only have to look at the way the supercasino was handled."

    Describing the Gambling Commission as "a bunch of civil servants in Birmingham," McIver said he did not rule out a return to Britain but felt that this was now "highly unlikely".

    Sportingbet - which has customers in the UK, Australia, Italy, Spain and Turkey - has had a licence to operate from the Channel Islands for some time.

    Earlier this week, Interactive Gaming, another gaming group whose brands include Premierbet and Heathorns, said it was relocating from the UK to Malta (see previous InfoPowa report). It said the Mediterranean island, which has been working hard to attract UK gaming operators, was "a location with a more defined regulatory environment" despite the Gambling Commission clarifying technical standards last week.

    The Independent described the moves as "....symptomatic of a growing frustration in the gaming industry with the regulator and Government."

    When the Commission was created, the Government had originally hoped to persuade offshore operators, in jurisdictions such as Gibraltar, Malta or the Channel Islands, to come back "on shore" the Independent reports. However, a remote gaming tax of 15 percent in the last Budget and concerns over continuing uncertainty about policy meant no major operator has yet made the move and none has plans to.

    A spokesperson for the Department for Culture, Media & Sport said: "The Gambling Act modernises 40-year-old gambling laws. For the first time, all operators will be required to put social responsibility at the heart of their operations and make sure that gambling is fair, crime-free, and that children and vulnerable people are protected. The tough new regulator the Gambling Commission will take action against any operator who is not able to meet the high standards of regulation introduced by the Act."

    Sportingbet said pre-tax losses came in at GBP 63 million, largely due to one-off charges such as the relocation, against a profit of GBP 21 million during the same period last year. But stripping out one-offs and discontinued operations, it made a GBP 3 million profit against GBP 800 000 last time.

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