Wednesday April 9,2014 : U.K. SECONDARY LICENSING NOT JUST A PAPERWORK EXERCISE
Gambling Commission will require a variety of assurances from applicant operators.
Offshore online gambling operators who want to legally access UK punters under Britain's upcoming secondary licensing and taxation laws will find the process involves a lot more than just filling in paperwork, according to the latest Gambling Commission advisories and an interesting summary prepared by the British legal firm Jeffrey Green Russell Limited.
Among the questions applicants will have to answer are:
* Where are the servers? Among the changes detailed by the Commission is an obligation on remote gambling operators to tell the Commission where their "key equipment" is based. It will be a condition of any licence that licensees apply for permission if they intend to relocate their key equipment to another jurisdiction.
* If you are operating in jurisdictions where revenues make up 3 percent of your revenues (or 10 percent in the case of companies generating less than GBP 5 million in total revenues) the Commission wants to know what those jurisdictions are, along with an explanation and assurance that the applicant is not acting unlawfully by offering gambling services there.
* Any other jurisdiction which the applicant is currently targeting by way of specific marketing, language, currency or website must also be disclosed to the Commission.
* If the applicant does not have a licence applicable in the operating jurisdiction/s, the Commission wants to know whether legal advice has been taken, although it does not presently require sight of the actual advice.
* The Commission will also want to be satisfied that the applicant does not knowingly accept business from any jurisdiction in which either the operation of an online gambling service, or the use thereof by players, is legally prohibited.
* The Commission appears still to be mulling the more complicated position of business-to-business online gambling suppliers, and will issue further guidance on this subject soon. Legal observers like Jeffrey Green Russell have however noted that the Commission will be focused on probity and exposure to "grey markets", and will want to know from whence vendors generate their revenues.
It has been suggested that suppliers who overtly break the laws of nations forbidding online gambling activity, and can provide no credible legal justification for doing so, could find their probity questioned. And ignorance will be no excuse.
* Remote operators seeking UK licensing under the new point-of-consumption laws must source gambling software from a British-licensed software provider with effect from 1st January 2015.
* Applicants will also have to furnish a functioning UK address, and simply providing a licensing jurisdiction address will not cut it. The address must be for a branch office or professional advisor's premises.
* The Commission is not yet decided on the question of continuation rights that would for example allow a subsidiary company holding a licence in a white-listed licensing jurisdiction to extend that licensing to its parent group or to a new company created to access the UK market under the new point-of-consumption legalization. The latter could of course apply in its own right for UK licensing.
* The Commission's Licensing and Codes of Practice document, currently at the consultation stage and a work in progress, sets out in detail the requirements for licensing and should be watched closely as it evolves. The Commission's current timetable for publication of the fully revised LCCP is end April 2014.
The following legal site is a practical and valuable reference for offshore online operators considering an application to the Gambling Commission: