Gambling Debates Heat Up Worldwide
The debate over gambling is heating up and issues relating to legality and regulation were prominent news features across the globe in recent weeks.
In an August 14th New York Post editorial, two US Congressmen from New York were critical of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act. In their bipartisan article entitled "Web Gambling: Tax Don't Ban," Steve Israel and Peter King opined that federal enforcement agencies had "bigger fish to fry" than responding to a "misdirected and probably unenforceable" ban on internet gaming. The Congressmen are just two of the 35 and growing co-sponsors of The Internet Gambling Regulation and Enforcement Act (IGREA), a bill introduced by Congressman Barney Frank (D-CT), the Chairman of the House Committee on Financial Services, in April 2007. Israel and King went on to say that the IGREA "would create a regulatory framework that ensures operators are licensed and protects consumers against underage gambling, compulsive gambling, money-laundering, identity theft and fraud."
It's the "white list" that has been news fodder in UK. The white list is the UK's list of approved jurisdictions for the new gambling advertising regulations which are scheduled to go into effect on September 1, 2007. If your online gambling site is licensed in a jurisdiction that is on the list, you will be able to advertise your services in the UK. If it is not, you're out of luck. Simon Bowers of the Guardian newspaper derides the policy that would allow offshore companies such as PokerStars, who is located in the white-list approved Isle of Man, to advertise and operate in the UK, without being licensed and taxed in the UK.
In related news, the government of Netherlands Antilles is hopeful that pending regulatory legislation, scheduled for the end of the year, will insure its ultimate inclusion on the white list. Hopeful, too, is Errol Court, Antigua's Finance Minister, who believes their "regulatory and licensing objectives" are consistent with the UK's white-list criteria, enough to warrant a spot on the list.
Finland's debate is more basic; they're worried about the kids. The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health is proposing to raise the legal gambling age in Finland to 18; it is currently 15. The Ministry also stressed that there needs to be better enforcement of the gambling age limit. Supporting the Ministry's proposal were two separate studies conducted by the Taloustutkimus market research company. In one study, over half of the 14-year-olds surveyed reported that they had gambled. More than a third of those surveyed who were younger than 14 also said that they had played. In another study, only seven percent of fifteen year olds, chosen because they looked younger than their years, said that they had been asked their age when engaging in gambling activities.
South Africa's Mail & Guardian has been busy reporting the status of The National Gambling Amendment Bill, designed to regulate internet gambling. The South African Cabinet adopted a draft amendment of the bill back in December. Last week the bill was tabled to the National Assembly, where it is expected to see little opposition. But the Mail & Guardian reported that at least a few members were less than pleased with the pending legislation. African National Congress member Ben Turok stated that "It is a social evil that we may have to regulate to curb, but we must not make money out of it." Solomon Rasmeni, from the North West province, told members that he would only support the Bill if it would lead "towards doing away with this unacceptable activity." And according to the M&G, apparently more than one member felt that online gambling would result in predominately white ownership profiting from predominantly black player participation.