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Emily D. Swoboda

Island of Jersey Passes I-gaming Legislation

14 June 2006

After a series of false starts and slow-moving processes, the island of Jersey, a sovereign state of the Channel Islands, is finally set to become the newest online gambling jurisdiction, creating competition with neighboring island Alderney, which has been established as a jurisdiction since 2000.

Jersey, whose gaming industry has primarily been limited to betting offices, first began exploring the idea of licensing online gaming businesses at the end of 2000 when the government seemed to be looking at ways of relaxing the Island's gambling control policies. Though no legislation had been introduced at the time, Jersey's then Gambling Controller Christopher Fairbairn confirmed that the government was looking closely at it, but ultimately nothing ever came to fruition.

In May 2001, there was much buzz in the press that Jersey's Gambling Control Committee had begun talking about revisiting the debate over whether to legalize online gambling. The Committee president at the time, Lyndon Farnham, argued in favor of legalization, saying it would enable Jersey to rival operators on the Isle of Man.

In December 2002, moving slightly forward on the idea, the Committee presented a report to the government asking for a full review of the existing gambling legislation, which dates to 1964, to modernize it to match that of the rest of the UK.

After reviewing the report, the Gambling Control Committee commissioned Professor Peter Collins of Salford University and Anthony Jennens, Deputy Chairman of GamCare, to research and make recommendations about the possibility of permitting Internet gambling services out of Jersey as well as the possibility of introducing casino or casino-style gambling into Jersey. He was also asked to research and speculate on the future of lottery gambling in Jersey, particularly whether it was possible for Jersey citizens to participate in the UK national lottery.

Collins' 2003 report recommended that Jersey expand its land-based commercial gambling industry to generate tax revenue, enhance tourism and provide entertainment options for residents, but he said Jersey should not license Internet gambling companies. He suggested instead that Jersey should include a single license to offer Internet gambling services as an extension of the license held by the successful applicant for the casino license.

Nonetheless, in the spring of 2004, the Economic Development Committee, which took over for the Gambling Control Committee, presented a Proposition asking the States to permit the submission of legislation to allow online gambling and to permit the formation of a Gambling Commission to oversee licensing and regulation of gambling on the island.

Finally in March 2005, the States passed legislation legalizing online gambling, although two further provisions that would have allowed for the drafting of casino legislation and the licensing of commercial bingo did not pass.

A three-person Gambling Commission has been formed as the first step toward creating a full-fledged online gaming jurisdiction, but it will take about 18 months to two years until the completion of a final draft of the law.

Once it happens though, Jersey could be a strong competitor in the lucrative industry. Alderney's Gambling Commission, which oversees 14 online gaming firms, netted more than £750,000 last year.

Island of Jersey Passes I-gaming Legislation is republished from
Emily D. Swoboda
Emily D. Swoboda