The United Kingdom Gambling (Licensing and Advertising) Act 2014 has been delayed for one month and will now come into effect on Nov. 1, 2014 instead of the proposed date of Oct. 1, 2014.
News of the delay spread after the UK Department for Culture, Media and Sports (DCMS) released a statement that read: “We remain fully confident of our case, and of the significant benefits to consumer protection that the Act will bring. However, to allow the judge to reach his judgement without under time pressure we will be taking the necessary steps to postpone the Act coming into force for one month.”
The judge mentioned in the DCMS statement is Lord Justice Green of the High Court, who is looking into claims from the Gibraltar Betting and Gaming Association (GBGA). The GBGA say the new gambling act is “unlawful because it is an illegitimate, disproportionate, and discriminatory interference with the right to free movement of services guaranteed by Article 56 TFEU, and is irrational.” Lord Justice Green said it was unlikely he would reach a decision by Oct. 1, hence the postponement.
Under the terms of the new law, operators — including those offering online poker — who are not based in the UK have to apply for a license from the UK Gambling Commission if they wish to continue offering gambling services to residents of the UK. The costs of licenses vary depending on the turnover of the company applying, but initial costs of £19,500 ($31,700) and an annual fee of £118,000 ($191,800) are mentioned in the gambling act’s small print.
In addition to the cost of the license, a new point of consumption tax comes into force on Dec. 1, 2014 that sees overseas operators have to pay a 15 percent tax on all bets stemming from customers based in the UK.
As mentioned, the initial date for the new licensing laws was set to come into effect on Oct. 1 with PokerStars being one of the first major online poker sites to make the necessary changes. PokerStars’ UK customers were informed they must download a new PokerStars UK client and only be able to play on this site.
Although the UK is not to be segregated from the rest of the .com clients as France, Italy and Spain currently are, customers were warned they face a “slight reduction” in VIP benefits and the auto top-up and auto rebuy features would cease to be available.
PokerStars’ sister site, Full Tilt, recently announced players from the UK will have to migrate to the new UK platform, but there was no mention of features being disabled of a reduction of benefits.
Not all online poker sites are applying for a new UK license and have instead decided to withdraw from the UK market.
Mansion Poker revealed it was no longer offering online poker to UK players, while PokerStars’ French-facing site and its rival Winamax also announced their intention of pulling out of the UK. The French sites are already heavily taxed by their own government.
The planned migration for PokerStars and Full Tilt customers has been postponed until Nov. 1 on the back of the delay and PokerNews will keep you up-to-date on any developments as soon as they come to light.