Totesport online casino heads for Alderney

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GOVERNMENT ONLINE CASINO HEADS FOR ALDERNEY

Totesport takes its licensing to "white listed" Channel Isles

In a move that British media is interpreting as an embarrassment for the UK Labour government, Totesport Casino, the Internet arm of government-owned bookmaker the Tote, is switching its licensing to the offshore tax haven of Alderney and not the UK.

The Guardian reports that this controversial move will allow Totesport to advertise freely in the UK while avoiding UK tax and regulation, where taxation levels imposed by present Prime Minister, then Chancellor, Gordon Brown have been widely critised.

The taxation discouraged online gambling companies in other European jurisdictions to switch to the UK, saying they had been forced to boycott the UK because Brown had set a prohibitively high 15 percent "remote gaming duty," on online poker and casinos.

One operator called the tax "a joke," insisting the industry would continue to target UK punters from offshore bases where they pay little or no tax.

A spokesman for the Tote, which is about to be privatised, said the decision to switch its online casino operations from Curacao to Alderney had been taken in order to allow Totesport Casino to advertise freely in the UK, in particular permitting it to sponsor horseracing events.

Curacao-licensed operators do not qualify for UK advertising freedoms, whilst Alderney is on the UK "white list" permitting licensees to advertise in Britain.

Asked why the Tote had not sought a licence from the UK Gambling Commission, he confirmed Alderney offered lower costs, particularly when it came to tax.

The spokesman said the decision to relocate to Alderney had been taken in full consultation with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

A spokesman for the DCMS said: "This is a business decision for the Tote. The Tote is run as a business."

The government has been trying to privatise the Tote for several years but early efforts were blocked in Europe because they breached rules on state aid. Tote management, under chief executive Trevor Beaumont and backed by a consortium of race track and horse owners, is believed to be in the final stages of negotiating an alternative sell-off plan.
 

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