ANTIGUA ONLINE GAMBLING LAW REFORMS CRITICIZED
New tax and licensing proposals will make this island jurisdiction less competitive with rivals.
Antigua's proposed revamp of its licensing and oversight laws has come in for criticism during industry consultations, and the government has been warned that its plans may make the regulatory less competitive vis-a-vis rivals like Malta and Gibraltar.
Aside from squeezing more tax out its much-reduced roster of operators, the government's principle goal appears to be job creation in order to boost the economy, but it has been cautioned that the current proposals are unlikely to achieve this.
Here are a few cliff notes on the government’s intentions:
* A new Gambling Act which will supersede previous interactive gaming laws dating back to 2007 and establish a new Gambling Authority Division to manage and supervise all gambling – including internet gambling – in Antigua and Barbuda. The proposal envisages a monitoring system embracing all licensees to be funded by land and online gambling operators, and a mandatory monthly system of operational and financial reportage to assist the Division.
* A revised "sliding scale" tax structure calculated on the number of locals a company employs, ranging from 2.5 percent of GGR for firms employing more than 100 islanders to 5 percent for those employing less than four people. The maximum operator tax payable will be capped at $750,000 a year.
Industry experts have pointed out that these rates are seriously uncompetitive compared to Malta and Gibraltar.
* Revised license fees designed to particularly encourage operators to select Antigua, thus creating more jobs.
* A requirement that operators must close all player accounts that are dormant for more than six months and remit any positive balances to government, save for a small administration fee ($120).
This has been criticized as a player-unfriendly move that is unlikely to benefit either the operator or the government in the long run.
* New rules designed to handle cyber currencies like Bitcoin with stricter customer due diligence and KYC requirements on transactions over $500, a move which critics say is the unnecessary creation of new legalization when existing laws perform the same function.