UK to require poker network software providers to hold UK license

uk-gambling-commissionThe UK Gambling Commission will require all software and B2B poker network providers to hold a UK gambling license as of April 2014 (at the earliest). Under the terms of the revised Gambling (Licensing and Advertising) Bill, all UK-facing operators will be required to hold a UK-issued license, but the Commission is proposing that network software providers like Microgaming, Ongame and Playtech be subject to the same requirements.

These providers will have to ensure that any network partners who bring UK players to the table also hold a valid UK-issued license. For partners bringing non-Brits to the table, network providers will have to perform due diligence to ensure that their skins hold valid licenses in the jurisdictions in which they’re based and that these foreign operators have proper policies and procedures in place to deal with money laundering and such. The Commission will also require “appropriate information sharing agreements” between B2B and overseas B2C poker operators, regardless of where the B2C operator’s players are located. Full details are available here, and the Commission has put a Dec. 4 deadline for stakeholders to howl their protestations.

Another public consultation currently underway in the UK involves player fund protection. The past few years have witnessed numerous high profile online gambling implosions that resulted in player funds vanishing. Full Tilt Poker’s shortfall was ultimately made good by PokerStars, but players at Absolute Poker, Purple Lounge and other sites are still waiting in vain for their white knight to appear. As first proposed at this year’s ICE Totally Gaming conference, the Gambling Commission is seeking player input on the best way to require operators to safeguard player funds.

The Commission has offered players a list of six fund protection options, of which the Commission favors a strict policy of segregating player funds from operating capital, provided customers are informed that this is no guarantee that player funds would be fully protected in the result of insolvency. The other options include a ‘Quistclose’ trust (which protects player funds from being hoovered up by creditors following insolvency); a requirement for licensees to pay into a fund that would compensate players in the event of insolvency; having operators take out insurance against insolvency; the creation of an independent trust account; and finally, creating different rules for different gambling products, i.e. poker. (Read the full consultation text here.)

UK gambling sites will once again be allowed to depict individuals under the age of 25 in their marketing campaigns, following a change in advertising codes. Under the old rules, betting firms weren’t allowed to feature any individual under the age of 25 in their advertising material if they were depicted ‘in a manner that promotes gambling’ or if they were the subject of the bet offer in question, which ruled out the use of younger footballers and the like. Following a public consultation, the Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP) have amended CAP Code 16.3.14 to allow betting ads to feature individuals between the ages of 18-24 years old, provided said individuals aren’t shown actually gambling.