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Government may crack down on online casino and poker ads

Government may crack down on online casino and poker ads

LONDON: Online casino and poker operators who release advertisements that violate law will be prosecuted. Secretary of state for culture, media and sport Tessa Jowell told the British Casino Association’s annual general meeting that action will be taken if the advertisements break existing laws. She said there will be a crack down on advertisers and publishers who knowingly break the law.

Jowell said subject to consultation, no more applications for certificates of consent to run new casinos will be entertained after April 2006, mainly with a view to avoid proliferation of smaller casinos.

All the online casinos and poker sites operate offshore. These offshore companies take bets from punters in the U.K. but, unlike land-based casinos, are allowed to advertise because they are outside the jurisdiction of British law.

The Gambling Act 2005 has provisions allowing them to operate from Great Britain for the first time.

Jowell said the plan is to disallow gambling firms advertising free entry to online tournaments or indicating the value of prizes. Casinos are allowed to promote their brands, but they cannot offer inducements to gamble. She said she finds that advertisements in newspapers and on London Metro platforms had flouted rules.

The proposed crackdown could act as a further blow to online gaming, which has suffered from lack of investor confidence and falling share prices.

Internet gambling company Partygaming, however, welcomed the action saying it supports such measures. The company’s director John Shepherd said his company is fully compliant with the law, and it is very strict about it.

Jowell said her department, jointly with the regulator Gambling Commission, would send letters to advertisers, publishers and gambling firms, warning them against violating the existing norms. The letter will clarify the legal status on the issue and violators are liable for fines of up to 5000 pounds and jail terms extending up to two years.

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