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Changes afoot for online gambling in UK and US

William Hill reacts to UK government's plans for new online gambling laws, while bid to legalize online gambling in Washington is hampered by delays.

Concerns about the UK government's plans to change the online gambling laws have been voiced by Ralph Topping, chief executive of leading online gambling operator William Hill. The government is planning sweeping changes to bring offshore operators into the tax net. Forcing offshore online gambling operators wishing to access the UK market to obtain a secondary license and pay taxes in the UK are among the potential actions being considered.

Topping said the government is “stepping on a minefield”, and that, “If politicians act holistically, people might think that was a reasonable approach, but if they salami slice things, they're in danger of making huge mistakes and getting into legal territory they wouldn't enjoy.”

In the interview with Gibraltar newpaper, The Chronicle, Topping implied the UK government will have to match the taxation levels of other jurisdictions, rather than leveling the field by taxing offshore operators.

In 2009, William Hill moved its online gambling operations to Gibraltar, avoiding high UK taxation and becoming more competitive. The company will not be leaving Gibraltar, now a leading centre for online gambling activity in Europe.

Meanwhile in the US, Washington DC council's bid to legalize online gambling has been further delayed. In an effort to increase public consultation on the recently passed law to introduce intrastate online gambling, the council instructed DC Lottery Chief Buddy Roogow to delay its implementation and to set up city-wide presentations on the matter. The presentations will be held from mid-September onwards.

News of the delay comes as the Associated Press news agency reports that the amount the American Gaming Association has spent lobbying the federal government on issues of online gambling has increased steadily since the second quarter of 2010. Expenditure reached a peak of $641,621,09 in the second quarter of 2011. However, it remains to be seen when this expenditure will produce results.

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