Gibraltar publishes draft legislation to replace 2005 Gambling Act

Gibraltar aims to remain a hub for online gaming.
Gibraltar aims to remain a hub for online gaming.

The proposed new gambling regulation will require that licensees have a “sufficient substantive presence” in Gibraltar and meet certain other criteria.

Gibraltar.- Authorities in Gibraltar have published proposed gambling legislation for consultation. Under the draft Gambling Act, which is intended to replace the Gambling Act 2005, licensees would need to have a local presence on the rock and meet certain threshold criteria.

Gibraltar has promoted itself as a hub for gaming operations in Europe but it is looking to introduce new legislation in a bid to preserve confidence in the sector and the territory’s reputation. Licensing and regulatory bodies will remain separate with the minister for finance responsible for licensing, however there will be more categories and new activities that require licensing.

Licensees will need to meet threshold conditions relating to business conduct, owner suitability, responsible gambling and the prevention of crime as well as the location of offices.

Licensees will be required to have a “sufficient substantive presence” in Gibraltar. That wording would allow some flexibility in terms of equipment location. The minister would need to assess the “nature, extent, purpose and usage” of a licensee’s equipment located in Gibraltar, the amount of tax revenue that would be paid and the “number and nature” of jobs to be created.

The government says the bill seeks to establish more flexibility in relation to licensing, to extend the activities that require licensing and extend the categories of licenses, and to introduce formal processes and greater transparency and accountability of decision-making by the licensing authority and the regulator.

The Bill introduces an “approved persons” regime requiring persons carrying out certain functions to be approved by the regulator, and it introduces a regime in relation to changes in shareholder control of a licensed gambling operator. The Bill also introduces a right of appeal to a new Gambling Appeals Tribunal.

The consultation period will close on August 31, with the Bill to be introduced in parliament after that.

The government said: “The core concepts are standards and suitability, and having a sufficient substantive presence in Gibraltar. These are the criteria both for the grant of a licence and, on an ongoing basis, for an own initiative decision by the licensing authority to consider revoking or varying a licence.”

The government’s outlined five objectives for the new Gambling Act: the preservation of confidence in gambling markets, protection of consumers, promotion of fair and responsible gambling, the prevention of links between gambling and crime and the public interest and preservation of Gibraltar’s own reputation.

The Gibraltar Gaming Division

As for the supervisory side, the Bill has followed much of Gibraltar’s Financial Services Act so to build “a common regulatory framework, and professional understanding and expertise across regulated economic activities with similar statutory regulatory objectives”.

The Gibraltar Gaming Division has said it will issue a licensing framework, fees document and codes of practice, including a social responsibility code, for consultation in due course. It said it will hold workshops and will consult with the Gibraltar Betting and Gaming Association. It said that meetings with sub sectors and individual companies will be arranged “where there is an appetite”.

As of May 23, some 43 Gibraltar remote gambling licences were active. The current licensing fees are £100,000 per year for all operator licences and £85,000 for B2B gambling support services. Recent licensees include Play ‘n Go, which gained a licence in March.

Last year, gambling commissioner Andrew Lyman expressed hopes that the British overseas territory of Gibraltar would remain a major hub for gaming following the UK’s exit from the European Union.

The foreword to the new consultation document reads: “Gibraltar’s historical and continuing successful hosting of the online gambling industry is the result of government policies, reflected in licensing and regulatory legislative framework and practices based on a partnership of shared interests between Gibraltar and the industry.

“This acknowledges the need to create a supportive environment in which the industry can develop, grow and prosper, while at the same time protecting both Gibraltar and those established in the industry here from the adverse reputational consequences of bad and unacceptable practices. Gibraltar understands the needs of the industry, and welcomes its presence here. None of this will change.”

See also: Gibraltar Gambling Division issues warning against Luckwins

In this article:
gambling regulation gaming regulation