Chancellor Brown’s tax decision was a downer for online gambling….but the liberated advertising is still a good bet.

The Guardian speculated today (Monday) that online gaming operators could be looking to UK for advertising, not licenses.

Online poker and casino operators based in offshore tax havens are poised to exploit sweeping deregulation of gambling advertising laws in Britain in September but will snub the government by boycotting its new regulatory licensing regime, the UK newspaper claims.

It predicts that the barrage of advertising across all media will come as an embarrassment to ministers and the newly created regulator, the Gambling Commission. Other EU member states, such as France, are tightening controls on online gaming groups.

At a conference on regulation last year, the Gambling Commission’s chairman, Peter Dean, pledged: “Everybody who offers gambling in Britain will be required to be licensed by us. This applies to terrestrial gambling as well as e-gambling.”

But online operators – many of which, such as PartyGaming and 888 Holdings, are listed in London but incorporated in Gibraltar – will not seek a UK license because of what they see as the prohibitively high 15 percent remote gaming duty set out in the budget last week.

Through the Remote Gambling Association, the industry had lobbied for the new tax to be set as low as 2 percent in order, they argued, to entice operators to enter the British tax and regulatory regime. After the budget, the industry group’s chairman, John Coates, said the UK government had “effectively turned its back on the industry”.

Many say offshore internet groups will be among the most aggressive advertisers. Ministers and regulators feel powerless to block such groups, which are protected by European freedom to trade rules.

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