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BetClic Everest mulls Gibraltar pullout as war over UK Gambling Act heats up

TAGs: BetClic Everest Group, Gibraltar, Gibraltar Betting and Gaming Association, UK Gambling Commission

gibraltar-gbga-betclic-everest-ukOnline gambling operator BetClic Everest Group is reportedly conducting an operational review of its Gibraltar-based operations in a bid to optimize its corporate framework and organizational structure. Depending on the results of its review, SBC News said the company’s operations in Gibraltar, which include administrative and sports betting trading operations, could be transferred to Malta. It’s unclear where that would leave the estimated 50 staffers currently toiling in the Group’s Gibraltar offices.

Last month, the Gibraltar Betting and Gaming Association (GBGA) publicly stated its intention to mount a legal challenge of the UK’s new Gambling (Licensing and Advertising) Act 2014, based on the GBGA’s belief that the Act violates European Union edicts on the free movement of services between member states. The Act would require all UK-facing operators to hold a license issued by the UK Gambling Commission, rendering the holding of a Gibraltar license somewhat redundant for companies that count the UK as their primary market (although there’s some doubt as to whether these companies would take the drastic step of relocating).

The UK reportedly filed its legal response to the GBGA by the July 16 deadline and while neither the Commission nor the GBGA have revealed specifics of the response, a Commission spokesman said it was continuing to prepare for the October 1 implementation of the Act’s provisions as planned. It’s notable that some of the biggest names holding Gibraltar licenses, including Ladbrokes and William Hill, opted not to lend their support to the GBGA’s UK challenge, likely suspecting there was little point in antagonizing the UK government when the challenge appeared doomed to fail.

But the Commission’s recent comments on the possibility of issuing ‘advertising-only’ licenses have only emboldened the GBGA. The Commission noted that it was reluctant to issue such licenses based on its belief that companies were incapable of effectively blocking UK punters from wagering on their sites. The GBGA seized on this admission, telling eGaming Review that it was “yet another indication of [the Commission’s] lack of readiness to deliver regulation to a global market.” The GBGA insisted it would use this admission when the matter ended up in court.

In response, the Commission said the goal of the Act was to frustrate the ability of internationally regulated sites to promote their wares to and conduct financial transactions with UK punters. These companies will “find it much harder to access the British market successfully” although the Commission noted that “determined” punters would always find ways of working around these obstructions.

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