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Isle of Man Considers Accepting US Bets

1 December 2004

The Isle of Man's Council of Ministers is reviewing a report compiled by the isle's Department of Trade and Industry that examines whether Isle of Man-licensed online gambling operators should be able to accept bets from gamblers in the United States. The decision on the matter, expected to come in one week, could have a huge impact on the success of the Isle as an I-gaming jurisdiction.


"We haven't been able to get any casinos, mainly because if you don't deal with American business, you really have difficulty in attracting anybody to move."
- John Gilmore
Isle of Man Gaming Ambassador

Isle of Man Today reported last week that two large gaming companies are prepared to settle on the isle, but only on the condition that they can accept U.S. bets. The publication did not name either of the companies. The Isle of Man's e-gaming ambassador, John Gilmore, confirmed that a pair of operators have shown in interest in the jurisdiction, but couldn't disclose who they are or what type(s) of gambling they offer.

The Isle of Man's online gambling legislation doesn't technically bar operators from accepting U.S. bets, but a sort of informal policy of restricting them was established when the original five operators--most of whom had land-based businesses in the Unite States--settled on the Isle. To maintain their good standings in America, those businesses needed to be sure that U.S. bettors could not access their sites. The policy stuck, even after all five companies abandoned their I-gaming plans.

Some would argue that the Isle of Man will have to welcome U.S. bets if it wishes to remain a player in the growing field of remote gaming jurisdictions, especially with the United Kingdom preparing to enter the fray. The U.K. Gambling Bill, which is working its way through the legislative process, places no restrictions on taking bets from U.S. citizens, and most established I-gaming jurisdictions have no such restrictions.

Gilmore said the jurisdiction's regulatory structure is very similar to the proposed U.K. model.

"It's virtually the same," Gilmore said. "It's quite strict in its attitude toward the usual--the problem gambler, the young and seeing that everything is fair etc. It's a very similar model to the U.K. In fact, both (jurisdictions') regulators worked quite closely together."

The Isle of Man made a few changes to attract I-gaming operators back to the Isle following the exodus of the five original I-gaming licensees. The first change was to create the new e-gaming ambassador position and to appoint Gilmore, a former Rank Interactive director, to fill it.

Gilmore immediately began working to adjust policies while maintaining the isle's status as a top-tier jurisdiction. His first major action was convincing the regulatory authorities to remove prohibitions on Internet poker and progressive jackpots by proving to them that anti-collusion and anti-fraud software had improved significantly enough in the last few years to minimize the threat of cheating.

Gilmore also simplified what used to be a very tedious and costly certification process and helped remove a hefty $2 million dollar surety bond that operators were required to put in place for protection against players with outstanding money.

Sports books like Paddy Power and Chronicle continue to move operations to the Isle of Man, as to other I-gaming services providers like NETeller, KYCOS Holding and Debit Direct. But online casinos haven't been part of the equation since the original five left.

"We haven't been able to get any casinos, mainly because if you don't deal with American business, you really have difficulty in attracting anybody to move," Gilmore explained. "I'm not saying to open up, but to actually move from a jurisdiction where they are already accepting American bets and they can see the benefit from it. If we can't offer that, it is very difficult for people to say, 'Well let's go there and be highly regulated, although we can't deal with America.' That doesn't make sense to them, and I can understand that."

Gilmore estimates that the U.S. comprises 70 percent of the online gambling industry, and he hopes that by opening access to the giant market, the Isle of Man, which already has low tax rates and is a veritable e-commerce mega-center, will be back on the map as a destination for online casino operators.

Isle of Man Considers Accepting US Bets is republished from iGamingNews.com.
Bradley Vallerius

Bradley P. Vallerius, JD manages For the Bettor Good, a comprehensive resource for information related to Internet gaming policy in the U.S. federal and state governments. For the Bettor Good provides official government documents, jurisdiction updates, policy analysis, and many other helpful research materials.

Bradley has been researching and writing about the business and law of internet gaming since 2003. His work has covered all aspects of the industry, including technology, finance, advertising, taxation, poker, betting exchanges, and laws and regulations around the world.

Bradley Vallerius Websites:

www.FortheBettorGood.com
Bradley Vallerius
Bradley P. Vallerius, JD manages For the Bettor Good, a comprehensive resource for information related to Internet gaming policy in the U.S. federal and state governments. For the Bettor Good provides official government documents, jurisdiction updates, policy analysis, and many other helpful research materials.

Bradley has been researching and writing about the business and law of internet gaming since 2003. His work has covered all aspects of the industry, including technology, finance, advertising, taxation, poker, betting exchanges, and laws and regulations around the world.

Bradley Vallerius Websites:

www.FortheBettorGood.com