Gibraltar Betting and Gaming Association seeks a Judicial Review
Following through on its repeated threats over the past eighteen months, the Gibraltar Betting and Gaming Association (GBGA), a trade body representing the interests of remote gambling operators, has filed a legal challenge against the British government's point-of-consumption legislative changes in a bid to trigger a Judicial Review.
The GBGA argues that the Gambling (Licensing and Advertising) Act 2014 and also the guidance and policies of the UK Gambling Commission are "unlawful, because it is an illegitimate, disproportionate and discriminatory interference with the right to free movement of services guaranteed by Article 56 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), and is irrational."
The trade association voices concern for consumer safety, claiming in its submission to England's High Court:
"The absence of effective supervision and enforcement, coupled with the burdensome regulatory requirements, will encourage the growth of and migration to unregulated or poorly regulated operators which will present genuine risks to the British consumer."
"When introducing the New Licensing Regime, the Defendants rejected the option of a "passporting" regime. This would have been both less onerous to legitimate operators and more effective in protecting consumers, since it would have been based on effective supervision and cooperation between the Gambling Commission and overseas regulators."
The Association implies that the changes are motivated more by tax and economic rationale than by consumer welfare, and seek to give British online gambling operators the competitive advantage over offshore operators.
"It is extremely disappointing that our concerns have not been listened to by the UK Government, and that the Gambling Commission's plans to expand its remit have been accepted," said Peter Howitt, chief executive of the GBGA
"The only beneficiaries of this change are the UK domestic industry and the Gambling Commission itself, which has persuaded the UK Government that it should be the global regulator of this high tech and complex industry. It has neither the resources, the legal powers, nor the skills to operate successfully across the globe.
"This is bad news for consumers, and for international competition. We have an effective and knowledgeable regulator in Gibraltar. That the Gambling Commission believes it is better placed to regulate the industry here is laughable. We are determined to fight against measures that actually undermine consumer protection."
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