Thursday, July 30, 2009

Gibraltar Gaming Commission & Authority

Gibraltar is located at the southern most tip of Europe. It was always known as a well-regulated financial center and therefore a natural choice for a gaming jurisdiction. Today the Gibraltar Gaming Commission, known as the Gibraltar Regulatory Authority, licenses sports books, online casinos and betting exchanges with the total number of licensees for online gambling being 21. Over 10% of its workforce is employed by the gaming industry.

Online gambling commenced in the mid 1990s and started growing around the end of the last century. The Gibraltar Regulatory Authority issued its first online gaming licenses in 1998. The first operators who came to Gibraltar were Victor Chandler and Ladbrokes. Today the Gibraltar jurisdiction boasts of some of the biggest names in online gaming. These include the Belle Rock Entertainment group that offers popular online casinos like JackpotCity and River Belle, 888 Holdings that runs and Pacific Poker, and the PartyGaming group that offers PartyPoker and PartyCasino.

The Gibraltar Regulatory Authority does not charge any initial licensing fee, even though it undertakes a very rigorous initial inspection. The licensees pay an annual fee of £2,000 and a gaming tax of 1% of their turnover subject to an annual cap of £42.5 million.

Initially the Gibraltar jurisdiction operated under the 1958 Gaming Ordinance. However with the tremendous growth in online gaming and the attendant social issues Gibraltar's House of Assembly updated its gaming legislation in 2005 and passed the Gambling Act 2005, under which the Gambling Regulatory Authority was appointed as the Gambling Commissioner. One of the reasons that Gibraltar has few licensees is that it has set strict standards and enforces them ruthlessly. The new act focuses on regulation, transparency and social obligations.

Gibraltar is the only United Kingdom overseas territory that is a part of the European Union. Also the Gibraltar jurisdiction is covered by the new U.K. Gaming Act. Both these associations have brought greater credibility and popularity to online gambling sites licensed in Gibraltar.

The responsibilities of the Gibraltar Regulatory authority include framing regulatory policies, evaluating applications for new licenses, investigating breach of license conditions and resolving disputes between player and operator. Among the numerous requirements that a potential licensee has to fulfill two are most important. The applicant has to produce a certificate confirming the integrity of the software from an approved inspection agency. The agencies approved for this purpose by the Gibraltar Regulatory Authority are Technical Systems Testing, eCOGRA, iTech Labs Australia and Gaming Associates Pty Ltd. The applicants also have to demonstrate their commitment to responsible gambling. They have to provide links from their sites to problem gambling help sites, have to incorporate self-exclusion features in their software and also have to take steps to prevent underage gambling.

References: Wikipedia, Gibraltar Gaming Commission

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