Gibraltar Betting and Gaming Association say measures are unsuitable for consumer protection and will harm Gibraltar economy
Britain's proposed secondary licensing and taxation law, based on gambling point-of-consumption and due for implementation at the end of this year, has come in for further criticism, this time from the head of the Gibraltar Betting and Gaming Association, a trade body representing the interests of online gambling companies based in Gibraltar.
In an op-ed piece written for The Commentator, GBGA chief executive Peter Howitt notes that Gibraltar has been a British territory for 300 years, yet the new laws on internet gambling could deal the self-governing dependency's economy a "hammer blow."
Howitt also claims that the UK's new Gambling Licensing Bill will undermine the "excellent protection" afforded to UK customers by Gibraltar and its online gambling operators, who currently supply the majority of UK consumer online gambling transactions.
Gibraltar is home to 30 major licensed online gambling companies that include some of the biggest names in the industry, and Howitt claims that the local licensing and regulatory regime is both experienced and of the highest quality when it comes to excluding underage and criminal activity, and protecting the online player.
"The UK plans take no account of the need to assess an operator with reference to the jurisdiction in which they are based, the quality of local regulation and the need for mutual agreement on a wide range of other regulatory matters including anti money laundering, data protection, consumer protection, contract enforcement and payments protection," Howitt observes, adding:
"By putting the Gambling Commission in the position that it is licensing and regulating overseas operators in a vacuum in places where it has no proper information gathering, monitoring or enforcement powers, the UK government ignores many crucial regulatory issues that are necessary to protect British consumers from harm."
Howitt fears that Gibraltar operators may be forced to cut costs or relocate as a consequence of the UK moves, and warns that the gambling industry employs ten percent of the territory's workforce and contributes twenty percent of its GDP.
He reveals that the Association has presented a practical alternative to the British, suggesting cross-border collaboration and regulatory supervision.
"Our proposals would ensure that the UK's consumers are more stringently protected as well as enabling the industry, government and regulators to deal with cross-border issues in a co-ordinated manner," he writes, noting that the core of the GBGA proposal has already proved successful in the regulation of financial services within the EU.
Howitt claims that the GBGA alternative makes use of experienced approved local regulators and so would allow UK regulatory resources to be properly targeted on problem areas, operators and jurisdictions.
"Once again we urge the British government to reconsider its plans in light of the effect they would have." Howitt concludes.
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