Brits Prepare to Study Online Gambling

20 December 1999
With an eye on lost tax revenues, the U.K. Home Office announced this month that an independent review body will be formed to design a new regulatory structure for the gambling industry, with a close look at online gambling issues.

Several British bookmakers have relocated to tax havens, such as Gibraltar, which has alarmed government money counters. Gambling tax revenues have dropped six percent the last two years, according to online news publication

"Much of our current gambling legislation is over 30 years old. Social attitudes have changed and the law is fast being overtaken by technological developments," said Mike O'Brien, the Home Office Minister responsible for gambling policy.

Gambling regulations were last updated in the '60s and '70s for the creation and regulation of bookmaker shops and telephone services. With the increasing popularity of Net betting, governments are being forced to re-examine such laws. The main controls on gambling are found in three Acts of Parliament: the Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Act 1963, the Gaming Act 1968 and the Lotteries and Amusement Act 1976 with associated secondary legislation.

The government is looking at whether it should attempt to collect duties at all for net wagers, according to Chris Gilroy, a civic regulation officer in the Liquor, Gambling & Debts Protection department under O'Brien.

The proposed Gambling Review Body will draw membership from business, law, economics, psychology and law enforcement fields. They'll be asked to develop a report over twelve months with suggestions for reforming gambling regulations.

"The Government wants to get rid of unnecessary burdens on business, while maintaining protections necessary in the public interest, " added O'Brien, concluding, "Reform would raise important issues and the social and economic impact would have to be carefully assessed."

The board won't be considering changes to the National Lottery, but it will assess the potential impact any proposed changes would have on it.