Gibraltar requires local presence for licensees in new Gambling Act

Gibraltar has published a draft of its new Gambling Act for consultation, including a requirement for operators to have a “sufficient substantive presence” in the territory.

The law introduces five objectives for the regulation of gambling in Gibraltar. These are the “preservation of confidence in gambling markets”, protection of consumers, particularly vulnerable people, promoting “fair and responsible” gambling, preventing links between gambling and crime and the public interest and reputation of Gibraltar.

Regulus partners noted that the first objective suggests a more holistic approach to the sector, rather than allowing authorities to “compartmentalise policies and regulatory requirements into one objective without thinking too hard about how it might affect the others”.

In terms of the final objective, Regulus noted that it showed Gibraltar intended to signal its credibility as a point-of-supply market rather than moving towards “dark grey” operations.

The rules also make changes to licensing. While licensing and regulatory bodies will continue to be seperate, it introduces a requirement that licensees should have a “sufficient substantive presence” in Gibraltar. The wording of this rule was chosen in order to allow the Minister for Finance – who acts as the licensing authority – flexibility “in relation to equipment location and other matters”.

Factors going into this requirement include the “nature, extent, purpose and usage”  of equipment in Gibraltar, the “number and nature of jobs to be created and maintained” and the amount of tax revenue paid.

The bill also lays out certain “threshold conditions” that all operators must meet to be licensed. These relate to the conduct of their business, the suitability of their owners, responsible gambling, prevention of crime and the location of their offices.

“In other words, the core concepts are  standards and suitability, and having a sufficient substantive presence in Gibraltar,” the government said. “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.”

Much of the bill relating to the supervisory powers of the Gambling Commissioner, meanwhile, was drafted to be similar to Gibraltar’s Financial Services Act, in order to create “a common regulatory framework, and professional understanding and expertise across regulated economic activities with similar statutory regulatory objectives”.

The law stems from a report published in March 2016 reviewing Gibraltar’s licensing and regulatory regime.

A stakeholder consultation on the bill is now open, allowing anyone affected to provide their input on the bill. It will last until 31 August, but the Gaming Division of the Gibraltar Ministry of Finance said it would “encourage early consideration of the material”.

“The Gambling Division will also be holding workshops and consulting with the Gibraltar Betting and Gaming Association,” it added. “However, where there is an appetite, meetings with sub sectors and individual companies can be arranged.

“In due course, the Gambling Division will issue a licensing framework and fees document and codes of practice, including a social responsibility code, for consultation.”

Following the consultation, the bill will be introduced in Parliament.

Author: Raymond Fleming