U.K. White List Grows by One

15 January 2008

The U.K. Department of Culture Media and Sport on Monday updated its advertising white list, adding just one new jurisdiction: Tasmania. It also announced the rejection of the applications from Antigua and Barbuda and Kahnawake.

From Jan. 31, 2008 Tasmania-based online gambling operators will be allowed to advertise their services in the United Kingdom, but those in Antigua and Kahnawake will not.

The U.K. government released its original white list in August 2007, blackballing approximately 1,000 online gaming sites operating outside of the European Economic Area. And then, only two jurisdictions outside of the EEA received approval from the DCMS to advertise in the United Kingdom from Sept. 1, 2007: Alderney and the Isle of Man. With the publication of the original list, the DCMS said it was still considering the applications from Antigua, Kahnawake and Tasmania.

Kahnawake Grand Chief Michael Ahrihrhon Delisle, Jr. in a prepared statement on Monday expressed his disappointment in the U.K. government's decision.

"Given Kahnawake's long-standing reputation as the world leader in Internet regulatory compliance and enforcement, it is disheartening to receive word that the Kahnawake Mohawk Territory's efforts will not be afforded the same consideration that has been extended to Tasmania, which has no such history," Delisle said.

Delisle continued, saying that the Kahnawake Mohawk Council had concerns over the process by which the U.K. government made its decision and had taken steps to ascertain the proper information.

Kahnawake Political Press Attaché Joe Delaronde talked to IGN today about the Mohawk's concerns and said they are trying to make sure that all due diligence was followed.

"From what we understand a lot of the decision was based on information they gleaned from Quebec media reports, which reports there are jurisdictional issues going on, which has been going on for years in the media," Delaronde said. "We just want to make sure that our case is based on merit and not media reports."

Recently, Kahnawake has garnered some bad press by way of two of its licensees. Montreal-based Cyber World Group (CWG), which ran GoldenPalace.com through a server based on the Kahnawake reservation, in September pled guilty to two charges of violating the Canadian Criminal Code for housing Internet gambling operations in Quebec, where Internet gambling is illegal. CWG has since closed its offices.

And in August, a cheating scandal erupted at Absolute Poker (AP) in which nine users, including a trusted employee, used software to view the "hole cards" of other players. After a three-month investigation, which commenced in October, a final audit report was released on Monday by the KGC which found that the illicit activity went on for a period of about six weeks and that AP was not aware of the activity. AP has been fined $500,000 and will be subject to random audits over the next two years.

Delaronde said the KGC was satisfied with the outcome of the investigation.

"It's almost like you need incidents to prove what you can do," he said. "And in the case of Absolute Poker, we went to a company that does this exclusively to audit (gaming) companies and make sure that their operations are proper. So, we went top of the line here. They did their due diligence. Our gaming commission was satisfied with the report and levied the fine."

As far as reapplying to be on the white list, Delaronde said Kahnawake is taking the approach that the doors remain open.

"It's not one of those things where you apply and they say 'no' and you're shut out forever," he said.

Meanwhile, Kaye McDonald, Antigua's gaming director, told the Antigua Sun on Monday that she was very disappointed by the decision, but remains confident that Antigua will make the list in the future.

"It is an ongoing process," said McDonald, who added that Antigua was informed of the decision last week. "We continue to work with the U.K. government."

Click here to view the statement from Grand Chief Michael Ahríhrhon Delisle, Jr.

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