New UK Gambling Laws Send More Online Sites Packing

September 26th, 2014 | by Brian Corlisse
UK Gambling Act delayed and challenged

A pending UK Gambling Act has been delayed a month, as more online poker sites cast their decisions on staying or going. (Image: casinodaily.com)

The new UK gambling laws continue to claim casualties in the online gaming industry, as yet more operators have decided to leave the market. Despite the UK’s High Court postponing the introduction of the new laws until November 1, yet more online operators have moved to clarify their place in the market.

PokerStars Leads the Way

Initially the new change will force online poker casino and sports books to hold a UK license if they intend to offer betting opportunities to UK residents. Secondly, on December 1, a new taxation scheme will come into effect. Known as a “point of consumption” tax, the new law will place a 15 percent levy on gross profits originating from revenues generated by players in the UK.

As the first of these two dates approaches, a number of iGaming outfits have moved to clarify their position. PokerStars quickly confirmed that it will stay in the market and move its UK players to a new dot-co-dot-UK platform, with the only slight changes for players being a small reduction in VIP benefits and the removal of auto top-ups.

New Market, Same Benefits

Following PokerStars’ announcement, Full Tilt and Unibet have also confirmed that they will continue to operate in the UK. Being a partner of PokerStars under the Amaya Gaming banner, it comes as no surprise that Full Tilt has committed to creating a new portal following the introduction of the new UK gambling laws. However, what has surprised some is that there will be no reduction in the value of VIP points nor any promotional offers overall.

Similarly, Unibet will also offer the same level of rewards for UK residents as its international customers. Having revamped the site early in 2014, Unibet’s “Challenges” system will remain active, without reduction, for users accessing the operator’s new UK site.

Carbon Exits

In contrast to those that have pledged to stay, Mansion and Winamax became two of the early departures. For the latter, it was a lack of liquidity from the UK market that prompted the decision to make a swift exit. Joining the growing list of poker sites leaving the UK is Carbon Poker. Despite accepting wagers from players in a number of US states, the Merge Gaming Network’s biggest name will cease trading in the UK as of October 1. According to an email sent out to players mid-week, all play has stopped immediately and those with active accounts will need to request a withdrawal by September 30.

New Laws Postponed

News recently broke that the UK Gambling Commission’s new laws won’t come into effect on October 1 as originally planned. Owing to the Gibraltar Betting and Gaming Association‘s (GBGA) High Court challenge, the activation date will now be November 1 at the earliest.

The GBGA is challenging the new law because, in its opinion, it contravenes European Union trade rules and is “an illegitimate, disproportionate and discriminatory interference with the right to free movement of services.”

The case was heard in the UK’s High Court earlier this week and, after hearing the case, Lord Justice Green stated that it would be “unrealistic” to make a ruling before the deadline. Because of this, the introduction of the new laws will have to wait for at least one month.

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