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Gambling (Licensing and Advertising) Bill 2013-14



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The Gambling (Licensing and Advertising) Bill was published in draft in December 2012 and presented to the House of Commons by Maria Miller on 9 May 2013.

It proposes a point of consumption basis for regulation of offshore betting companies operating in the UK market and would require those operators to have a Gambling Commission licence.

The culture, media and sport (CMS) select committee conducted pre-legislative scrutiny of the Bill, hearing from both officials and the gambling industry. Their report was supportive of the proposals to regulate on a point of consumption basis.

At the moment operators can also be licenced by one of the jurisdictions on the UK 'white list', allowing many to be based overseas, often in tax friendly havens such as Gibraltar or the Isle of Man, whilst targeting UK consumers.

The government argue these changes are vital in ensuring greater protection for UK consumers.

In their report the CMS committee noted the concerns of the remote gambling industry that the proposals were designed to bring them within the UK's tax regime.

However, it was recognised that much of the UK-based gambling industry supported the Bill, along with sports bodies who wanted to help combat match fixing and organisations working on problem gambling.

The committee recommended the government amend the Bill to address the anomaly that it would be illegal for casinos to provide online gambling on their premises.

The Bill aims to:

  • Regulate overseas gambling operators at the point of consumption and require all operators, whether selling or advertising, into the British market to hold a UK Gambling Commission licence
  • Extend consumer protection measures regardless of where the operator was based
  • Make it compulsory for overseas operators to inform the Gambling Commission about suspicious betting patterns to help fight illegal activity and corruption in sports betting

The government anticipated in its written evidence to the CMS committee being able to commence the new arrangements at the earliest by the common commencement date of April 2014 or, more likely, October 2014.

Section 2 of this Bill extends to the United Kingdom, section 4 extends to Northern Ireland, whilst the other provisions in this Bill extend to England, Scotland and Wales only.

The House of Commons second reading of the Bill was on 5 November 2013. After a short debate, the Bill was read for the second time and passed to a Public Bill Committee. The first day of committee took place on 12 November 2013 and heard oral evidence from witnesses including the Remote Gambling Association, National Casino Forum, British Horseracing Authority, Sport and Recreation Alliance, Salvation Army, Quaker Action on Alcohol and Drugs and CARE.

The second day of committee took place on 19 November 2013. Following a short debate, the committee considered and agreed to clauses 1-5 of the Bill. The Bill was subsequently reported without amendments.

The remaining stages in the House of Commons took place on 26 November 2013. At report stage, the Commons considered an amendment to clause 1 of the Bill. The Bill was passed to the third reading stage, where it was read for the third time and sent to the House of Lords for further scrutiny.

The Bill had its first reading in the House of Lords on 27 November 2013 where it was ordered to be printed. The Gambling (Licensing and Advertising) Bill passed second reading in the House of Lords without a vote on 17 December 2013. Peers expressed broad support for the Bill but expressed disapointment about its lack of scope regarding the horserace betting levy, spread betting and self-exclusion for problem gamblers.

The committee stage was held on 14 January 2014. The committee considered clauses 1-5 of the Bill. All of which, were agreed to. The Bill was reported without amendment.

The House of Lords report stage for the Bill took place on 4 March 2014. The government committed to introducing an amendment at third reading to allow for British "bricks-and-mortar casinos" to offer their online gaming products within their own premises, during the report stage of the Gambling (Licensing and Advertising) Bill.

Peers failed to give the Gambling Commission a discretionary power to block financial transactions between people living in the UK and online gambling websites that had not secured a UK Gambling Commission licence.

During the third reading of the Gambling (Licensing and Advertising) Bill on 18 March 2014, peers discuss regulations on overseas bookmakers operating or advertising in the United Kingdom.

Amendments 1 and 2 focused on the liability to pay the horserace betting levy, and the regulation of advertising gambling by overseas companies under clause 2 of the Bill respectively.

The House of Commons ping-pong stage for the Bill was held on 26 March 2014. The House of Commons considered the Lords amendment to the Bill. The amendment was agreed to.