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Isle Of Man Approves Online Gambling Regulation Bill

Robert Lee,, London

19 December 2000

In keeping with its ambitions to be a key e-commerce centre with comprehensive regulation, the Isle of Man last week approved an Online Gambling Regulation Bill, which will permit gambling on the Internet and similar forms of online and interactive gaming to be regulated.

A statement from the Isle of Man's Department of Home Affairs said tight regulation is the key to success both for companies providing services and for the Isle of Man itself. It stated: 'The global gambling market is estimated to be US$830bn. There have been a number of obstacles for e-commerce to overcome in this market. Many Internet sites offering gambling facilities are unregulated or only lightly regulated, making players wary because of the uncertainty of ever being paid any winnings. Despite these difficulties, in only a few short years, online gaming has grown to account for US$1.2bn, and that figure is expected to grow to US$6.3bn by 2003".

The Bill will provide a secure regulatory regime, involving all of the following bodies: the Gambling Control Commission (previously the Gaming Control Commission), the Department of Home Affairs, the Financial Supervision Commission, Data Protection, Treasury and the Isle of Man Constabulary. Licence holders will only be permitted to offer games that are approved by regulation. Moreover, not all games will, necessarily, be available to all licence holders. This will ensure each licence holder is competent to provide each game.

The number of licences will initially be restricted to three to avoid overburdening the new regulatory system whilst in its infancy. However, the Council of Ministers is provided with the power to increase the number of licences if this is deemed necessary and beneficial to the Isle of Man.

Companies will have to be registered in the Isle of Man, their designated officials will have to be resident there, and licence holders must maintain sufficient financial reserves. The government says that regulation will protect players' privacy, prohibit sales to minors and prevent money laundering. The regulator will also have rights of entry and powers to inspect software and all gaming transactions.

The Department of Home Affairs holds the firm belief that a secure regulatory environment is likely to attract major companies to the Isle of Man. It said: 'The Bill provides an important opportunity for the Island to benefit from a growing e-commerce market, but the Island's reputation for probity has to be protected. Regulation has therefore been given a very high priority in the Bill.'

Now that the Online Gambling Regulation Bill has been approved by the Council of Ministers it is able to progress to the House of Keys in the Isle of Man parliament for further debate.


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