Govt crackdown 'bans' thousands of gambling ads

Online gambling faces crackdown
Online gambling faces crackdown

Online gambling sites based in jurisdictions which do not promote responsible gambling will be banned from advertising in the UK, the government announced today.

Culture, media and sport secretary James Purnell said around 1,000 websites will be banned from advertising in the UK under a crackdown on irresponsible gambling.

Using powers contained in the Gambling Act 2005, ads for companies operating outside the European Economic Area (EEA) will be banned.

Some jurisdictions outside the EEA will be allowed on a second 'white list', providing they meet stringent requirements.

The new law will see many popular online gaming sites prevented from advertising until they can move to new jurisdictions.

Mr Purnell said: "I make no apology for banning adverts for websites operating from places that don't meet our strict standards. Protection is my number one priority."

To qualify for the white list licensees must show they are committed to combating problem gambling, by funding research, education and treatment.

Jurisdictions must also agree to protect children and ensure fair gambling procedures and taxation.

Mr Purnell continued: "The fact that only Alderney and the Isle of Man have been able to meet the high standards demanded by our white listing criteria shows how tough the Gambling Act is.

"Indeed white listing has actually helped drive up regulatory standards in some countries."

The Conservatives accused the government of inconsistency in its gaming policy. They said many jurisdictions within the EEA would not meet the stringent requirements of the white list.

Shadow culture secretary Jeremy Hunt said: "Whilst we welcome any measures which protect the young and vulnerable, this announcement simply highlights the staggering inconsistencies within the government's gambling policy.

"How can they claim that their number one priority is protection when they ban operators from relatively tough regulatory regimes such as Tasmania, yet allow those based in much more lenient countries like Gibraltar?"

Rather than "banning" 1,000 websites, Mr Hunt said companies would simply transfer to a new regime.

The ban comes into effect on September 1 2007 and any broadcaster or publisher caught breaking it will risk a fine or imprisonment.

The government estimates there are around 2,300 gambling websites worldwide. Some of the most popular jurisdictions, including Costa Rica and Belize, will be banned from advertising under the new restrictions.


Politics @ Lunch

Friday lunchtime. Your Inbox. It's a date.