Gibraltar Solidifies I-Gaming Laws

23 December 2005

The Gibraltar Parliament on Tuesday passed legislation to establish a strict statutory regulatory and licensing framework for the jurisdiction's online gaming operators.

The government began creating this legislation in early 2005, with the first draft of the Gambling Ordinance introduced in June. The intention was to modernize Gibraltar's outdated gaming regulations, considering the self-governing Mediterranean jurisdiction's growing status as a leading base for online gambling. Its 15 registered gaming companies collectively operate 104 gaming sites.

The government's effort came to fruition this week, and Gibraltar now has improved guidelines for the prevention of illegal gambling by unauthorized users (including children) by requiring that all computer equipment used for online gaming be kept in secure areas free from unlawful access.

Further conditions under the heading "Responsible Gaming" require all sites licensed in Gibraltar to conspicuously display links to problem gambling organizations and must appoint a specific person responsible for the formulation of responsible gambling policies.

Additionally, each licensed site must display the full name and address of the license holder.

The modernized law also includes specific regulations for avoiding advertising that is false or misleading, and a license holder that detects possible money laundering activity has 24 hours to inform the gambling commissioner.

The new regulations will be enforced by a new ministerial-controlled licensing authority and the current Gibraltar Regulatory Authority will act as the Gambling Commission.

Despite the improvements, Peter Montegriffo, a former government official who has been closely involved in the development of the legislation, does not feel the industry in Gibraltar will see a drastic change.

"The new legislation essentially codifies much of the licensing and regulatory practice that had already been adopted in Gibraltar," said Montegriffo, who served as Gibraltar's minister for trade and industry in the late '90s and is currently a senior partner at at Gibraltar-based Hassans International Law Firm. "We do not therefore expect any major difference in approach from the relevant authorities though the updated provisions are more explicit in the obligations of licensees than was previously the case. We believe the right balance has been struck."