UK firms owrried that gvt PIN requirement will deter players

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Dormant account
10 November 2003

Government plan may keep online casinos offshore
Dominic Dudley

Gambling firms have warned that the Government is in danger of killing off any chance of the UK becoming an international centre for online casinos.

NMA has learned that civil servants are considering forcing UK-licensed casinos to send a PIN to new users before they can gamble online. At best this would mean a delay of several days for each new customer, but the more likely outcome is that potential customers would use offshore sites instead.

The proposal isn't contained in the original report from the Gambling Review Body or the subsequent Government response, but sources said it had emerged in private discussions with civil servants.

The proposals have drawn a critical reaction from the UK's gambling companies.

'If that's the kind of thing they are going to impose then you can't run a business,' warned a spokeswoman for Ladbrokes. 'If they're too prescriptive then no-one will come back onshore. That's something they'll have to look at again.'

Ed Andrewes, commercial director of Rank Interactive, which owns the hardrockcasino.com site, was also critical. 'It doesn't seem sensible to me,' he said. 'Regulations for operating casino and gaming sites can be set at a sensible level that will allow the UK to compete with other offshore jurisdictions.'

The full nature of the Government's proposals won't be known until the Department for Culture, Media and Sport publishes the full draft of the Gambling Bill, which is expected by mid-November.

After that a joint committee of the Houses of Commons and Lords will start its pre-legislative scrutiny. The committee has to report by 8 April 2004, though the Government says the Bill is unlikely to make it into law until the summer of 2005.
 
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