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Ryan McLane

Ryan  McLane
Ryan McLane was a poker reporter for Casino City. Although he has a strong background in reporting, the same can't be said for his poker skills. He has never won a major tournament nor is he a professional player. Currently, Ryan lives in Boston and occasionally makes international treks to cover tournament poker and news.

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Online gaming sites look to comply with U.K. ad rules

22 Aug 2007

By Ryan McLane

Online gaming sites looking to comply with the U.K.'s new advertising guidelines are taking two different routes – moving their bases of operation or trying to get their jurisdiction approved.

More than 1,000 online gambling firms will not be allowed to advertise in the U.K. after the 2005 Gambling Act takes effect on Sept. 1, according to a statement released earlier this month by the U.K.'s Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

The new regulations state that in order to advertise in the U.K., online gaming sites must reside in an approved jurisdiction, must direct problem gamblers to the U.K.'s gamble aware Web site, must not target children and must not advertise on TV or radio before 9 p.m.

Currently, only sites located within the European Union, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Gibraltar, Isle of Man and Alderney are acceptable.

"The U.K. is following the rest of the world in becoming not necessarily unfriendly, but more restrictive," said I. Nelson Rose, an international expert in online gambling law. "The U.K. had (before the Gambling Act) the rather bizarre law that said the bet took place where the server or operator was, which meant that foreign Internet poker operators, but not British licensed bookmakers, could take out big ads on the sides of London cabs."

Bodog, one of the largest online gaming sites, is in Antigua -- which is not on the U.K.'s white list of approved jurisdictions. But the online casino has been working diligently in the last six months to prove their jurisdiction meets the U.K.'s new regulations and standards.

"The new regulations have been in the public domain in some shape of form for at least a year so we pretty much knew this was coming," Bodog's European Managing Director Matt Jelicoe said. "We obviously talk to the regulatory bodies in many jurisdictions on a regular basis and we began making applications for white-listed jurisdictions over 6 months ago. The timings fit quite well with our planned European expansion for the beginning of 2008."

Online casinos in the Netherland Antilles, Kahnawake and the Caribbean are also applying for white list status. Major firms PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, Bodog, Intercasino, William Hill and Betfred are located in these jurisdictions.

Casino City estimates place more than 1,000 online gambling firms in these major jurisdictions.

"Island nations, like Antigua, have not been cut out, yet," Rose said. "They still might get approved."

Some sites heavily dependent on U.K. players, like William Hill, Intercasino and Betfred, are planning to move their headquarters to jurisdictions approved by the U.K. government rather than wait for their jurisdictions to receive approval.

"We will have a Maltese license by 1st September which is on the white list and will commence with TV advertising from that date," Intercasino/Interpoker spokesperson Lee Knot said.

Similarly, Betfred plans to move their operation center from the Netherland Antilles to Gibraltar, allowing the popular U.K. sportsbook and casino to advertise in its most lucrative market.

Betfred spokesperson Martyn Beacon ensured Gambling Portal Webmasters Association members last week that his company would complete the move before the Sept. 1 deadline.

Despite the moves planned by some sites, Rose believes most firms will choose to stay where they are and prove their jurisdictions are credible.

"I don't think you'll see anything like a mass migration to England," Rose said. "The U.S. Dept. of Justice has felt that advertising of Internet gambling has been always been illegal in the U.S., yet it hasn't hurt (online gambling) operators' business, especially after they developed "dot-net" sites, that don't take real money."

Bodog welcomes the advertising guidelines, calling them a big step forward because they clarify the rules for online gaming operators in Europe.

"I think the proposed solution of applying some restrictions to gaming advertising on TV seems sensible and in line with responsible gaming policies," Jelicoe said.

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