CARE is greatly encouraged to read the comments made by Don Foster MP, the Lib Dem Communities Minister, in the Daily Mail today, particularly in relation to online gambling. The Government is poised to introduce a new regulatory regime for offshore gambling, requiring websites based overseas, for example in Antigua, to gain a UK Gambling Commission license.
CARE has long campaigned for an overhaul of the regulatory regime due to the large loophole which currently exists. However, there remain unanswered questions. Firstly, do the plans for a secondary licensing regime include the requirement for EU-based sites such as those in Malta? This may be a matter of contention as EU trade regulations have caused trouble on this subject in the past.
A second question which arises is whether a secondary license regime would give punters recourse to complain through the UK Gambling Commission rather than through an offshore commission. We very much hope that the new licensing regime does extend to the EU and also hope that UK citizens will be fully protected under the UK Gambling Commission.
CARE, alongside other church groups, pressed Gerry Sutcliffe MP in the last government to take action on this issue. A consultation on online gambling was launched which closed after the General Election and was picked up by the previous Conservative Gambling Minister, John Penrose MP. On 14 July 2011 – a year after the launch of the consultation – the Coalition Government responded favourably to proposals to close the loophole but we have heard nothing since.
We await official confirmation of the detailed plans which will be announced by the new Minister with responsibility for Gambling the Rt Hon Hugh Robertson MP.