eGaming Review January 2014 - Page 25

NEWS > ANALYSIS WHAT’S THE POINT OF CONSUMPTION? >> As UK-facing operators and suppliers prepare for a new regulatory regime, Gerard Starkey takes a look at the Gambling Bill’s recent progress and path to implementation in 2014 O ne of the most contentious topics at the end of 2013 was the proposed changes to UK remote gaming regulation. Delays and debate have caused uncertainty among operators, which have understandably been frantically trying to prepare for the cost and compliance implications it will bring. The Gambling (Licensing and Advertising) Bill is expected to be granted Royal Assent in early 2014. It will require all operators wishing to take bets from customers based in Great Britain and/or advertise their services in Great Britain to obtain a new licence from UK regulator, the Gambling Commission. Software suppliers to the UK market will also require licensing under new codes. The enactment of this Point of Consumption (PoC) regime is to be swiftly followed by a gross gaming revenue tax, likely to be set at 15%, on all bets placed by customers who reside in the UK. The tax, coupled with the regulatory changes, has gained little favour with the UK-facing online gaming industry, with Gibraltar-based operators threatening a judicial review should the proposals get given the go-ahead. Delayed reaction The Commission had previously indicated the earliest point at which the Bill could be implemented would be 1 April 2014; however, due to a slippage in the parliamentary timetable, Royal Assent is unlikely to be granted until February. With the Commission committed to a three-month window for licence applications, it is doubtful that the PoC regime will come into force until May or June. This is perhaps good news all round with operators and suppliers given more time to prepare for what could be an exhaustive licensing process, especially with changes to the Licencing Codes and Codes of Practice also expected to be introduced in the coming months. “Operators will need to implement new operating policies and procedures as well as have software and equipment retested against the UK standards,” Julian Harris, gaming lawyer and partner at Julian Harris law firm, says. 23 “Depending on the demands of an operator’s current regulatory regime, the cost of compliance may be high. Operators will also be required to contribute towards British problem gambling and regulatory costs. It is not therefore simply a question of making an application, and we are not sure that many operators have yet appreciated quite how much work is involved ove