Alderney Opens Its Doors to E-casinos

23 August 2001
The British Channel island of Alderney has joined the Isle of Man, a fellow low-tax regime, in issuing Internet casino licenses.

As a result, it's becoming apparent that the Caribbean region is quickly losing supremacy among e-gaming operators in favor of more stringent regulation.

News that the two regimes were issuing licenses for online casinos has caused an uproar of anticipation among land-based companies eager to eschew Caribbean jurisdictions in favor of locales offering regulations that are similar to those used for land-based gambling in Great Britain and the United States.

Legislation for regulating online casino gambling in Alderney, which went into effect Aug. 1, sets guidelines for six licenses, costing £75,000 annually and lasting three years, to be issued at first. Although no names have been mentioned, an official press announcement indicates that casino operators from the United Kingdom and the United States, as well as Australia and several European Union member nations, have expressed interest.

Officials in Alderney are confident they have a lot to offer. "We are a safe and sound jurisdiction that compares favorably with any other center of Internet gambling," Alderney Gambling Control Commission chief Moran Chapman explained. "This is a tremendous opportunity, both for Alderney and for potential e-gaming operators, and we expect to see keen international competition for those six licenses."

The Alderney Gambling Control Commission will regulate operators, with help from the Gaming Board of Great Britain, which will assist with probity checks on the companies and their key personnel.

Extensive player protection mechanisms, including an expectation that license holders will provide assistance for problem gamblers, have been developed.

"Players will have an account set up with the operators, which they can top up by check or credit card transaction, and our regulatory framework concerns player protection," Chapman said. "The parameters and chances of winning will also have to be set out for each game and we insist on the operating companies keeping their clients' funds separate from their working capital. Winnings will be paid into clients' accounts and withdrawals will generally be paid out by check to the player."

The island already licenses three online bookmaking operations--Sportingbet, Surrey Sports and International Sports Betting Limited--which have provided an extra source of income to an economy largely reliant on tourism dollars.