Monday, June 20, 2005

Gibraltar Government to push new Gambling Laws by Autumn

Internet poker upsurge * US considers on-line gambling a violation of federal laws * PartyGaming profits to hit $500m in 2006

In what appears to be a swift proactive strike following the spectacular growth of on-line gambling on the Rock, the Gibraltar Government has issued a consultation paper for a Gambling Ordinance to protect the reputation of the local jurisdiction.

The move appears linked to recent international press headlines that have raised eyebrows with the multi-billion pound flotation of locally based internet gaming company PartyGaming, and fears over a US regulatory clampdown on its activities.

More generally, concern has also been expressed by UK industry experts who question whether such rapid expansion – pre tax-profits have grown from $5m to $500m in three years – is sustainable.

Meanwhile sources close to the local gaming industry have said that PartyGaming’s local licence requires that gambling activities are only promoted in those places where it is not illegal.

The US where on-line gambling is considered a violation of federal laws, accounts for at least 80% of the company’s revenues.

In a statement to the Chronicle Chief Minister Peter Caruana said:

“The Government has issued a detailed consultation paper, including draft legislation, for a Bill for a Gambling Ordinance.

The consultation paper, which has been sent to all licensed gaming companies in Gibraltar, is also publicly available on the Government’s website.

The Consultation paper invites the views and comments of the industry by 31 July 2005.

The proposed Gambling Ordinance is intended to modernise Gibraltar’s very old gaming legislation, and to create a statutory Licensing and Regulatory framework, in the light of Gibraltar’s status as a leading jurisdiction for on-line gaming.”

Mr Caruana, who has ministerial responsibility for gaming, continued:

“We have always attached and continue to attach considerable importance to the protection of Gibraltar’s jurisdictional reputation, as well as to providing an operating environment that protects the corporate reputation of gaming companies established here. This draft legislation is intended to update the statutory framework to ensure that Government is able to continue doing so in the light of the recent growth in new gaming activities.

It is the Government’s intention to take a Gambling Bill to the House of Assembly early in the Autumn.”

According to UK press reports, the Gibraltar based company is the largest on-line poker operator in the world and is responsible for more than 60 per cent of the market. In three years its pre-tax profit has grown from $5.8m to over $370m, and is forecast to rise to more than $500m in 2006.

Related Links and Articles:

Online Poker Rooms - Listings in My Gibraltar Directory

Click here to view a copy of the Consultation Paper (but not of the lengthy draft Bill)

15 June 2005 - PartyGaming shows hand on flotation value

12 June 2005 - Legal ambush could slash Party Gaming's £5bn jackpot

13 May 2005 - PartyGaming puts £5bn on its flotation value

18 March 2005 - Online casino plans float


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