Antigua Joins U.K. Advertising White List

4 November 2008

Antigua and Barbuda's application for whitelisting has been approved by the United Kingdom Department for Culture, Media and Sport after an initial rejection earlier this year.

From Nov. 21, 2008, remote gaming operators based on the twin-island nation will be permitted to advertise their services to consumers in the United Kingdom.

In January 2008, the department, which oversees all cultural, leisure and media pursuits in the United Kingdom, rejected Antigua's application but kept consideration open for its approval in the future.

Kaye McDonald, Antigua's director of gaming, explained to IGamingNews by telephone what initially kept Antigua off the white list.

"There were some concerns over our enforcement measures," she said. "(Particularly) relating to inappropriate advertising because of the size of our industry."

To gain approval, Antigua needed to demonstrate that it could manage its advertising and has done so by implementing new sets of guidelines for advertising, responsible gaming and anti-money laundering, Ms. McDonald said.

"We wholeheartedly accept the keys and principles of the U.K. gaming authority, which has been regulating online gambling for over 10 years," she said.

L. Errol Cort, Antigua's finance minister, added in a prepared statement: "We are extremely pleased that our application has now been approved, and we look forward to the expansion opportunities that this provides for our current licensees and to welcoming other, select first-rate remote gambling brands to the jurisdiction of Antigua and Barbuda."

IGN's Take

This development is undoubtedly a bright one for Antigua after United States enforcement activities against certain of its licensees in 2001 -- and, subsequently, a long-running trade dispute with the Bush administration -- saw its share of the world's licensees diminish by 30 percent between 2001 and 2006.

Is Antigua's remote gambling economy destined for a renaissance, a la 2001 when revenues jumped 59 percent against the prior year? Probably not, but it is well-positioned to receive an uptick in credibility and, most importantly, license inquiries.

The United Kingdom -- which, sources say, (i) represents approximately 33 percent of the European online gambling market, (ii) boasts an Internet penetration rate of around 69 percent, (iii) is seat to a regulation-minded government and (iv) maintains high levels of social acceptance -- certainly makes an attractive market in which to advertise.

At the same time, further announcements regarding Antigua's search for Asian licensees, reported in July, now becomes all the more interesting.

Antigua is the fourth member of the white list, joining Alderney, the Isle of Man and Tasmania.

Christopher A. Krafcik | Editor | IGamingNews

Emily Swoboda is the senior staff writer at IGamingNews. She lives in St. Louis, Mo.