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Kevin Smith

Pulling Rank - Hard Rock Hops from Isle of Man to Alderney

26 June 2003

Despite losing two of its original online casino licensees in the past three weeks, officials with the Isle of Man government are confident the jurisdiction will remain a desirable location for operators.

Earlier this week, users of were informed that the site would be closed for a few days as operations were moved from the Isle of Man to Alderney. Rank Interactive, a division of Hard Rock's parent company, operates the Web site and said the move will be effective on July 1.

Andre Wilsenach, the CEO of the Alderney Gambling Control Commission, confirmed to IGN that Rank was granted a gaming license today from Alderney regulators and the site could be up and running by the early part of July.

The news comes a few weeks after MGM Mirage announced it will pull the plug on its Isle of Man-based online casino on June 30.

Earlier this year, Kerzner International shut down its Atlantis online casino, which was also operated in the Isle of Man.

Many industry experts say the Isle of Man's tough regulatory codes and standards have hindered operators' efforts to gain and retain customers.

The jurisdiction's regulations call for rigorous disclosure requirements enabling operators to know their customers. The rules are in place to curb money laundering and fraud, but some feel the policies have driven players to sites based in jurisdictions were the controls aren't as tough.

Chris Corlett, the chief executive in the Isle of Man's Department of Trade and Industry, said government officials were disappointed when they heard the news that Rank was moving to Alderney, but regulators still felt the right approach was being taken there. Nevertheless, he said, change could be on the horizon.

"We are constantly reviewing our stance," Corlett said. "This isn't like international banking, where you have an industry that has been around for thousands of years and evolves slowly in terms of implementing new ideas and technologies. [Interactive gaming] is a fast moving industry, and we are always looking at ways to keep pace with the industry and its rate of innovation."

Littlewoods Leisure, a popular U.K.-based gambling brand, is the only operator of the Isle of Man's original three licensees, and Corlett said regulators have been communicating with executives from Littlewoods and other licensees about how to improve the situation in the Isle of Man.

"We by no means are down and out," he said. "We do think there might be more potential in sports betting than casino gaming, but we will continue to work with our licensees."

Officials with Rank were unavailable for comment, but IGN did receive a copy of the relocation notification sent to Hard Rock customers. Users were informed there would be a temporary shutdown and that residents of the Isle of Man would have the balances on their accounts refunded.

Corlett said Rank officials told regulators in the Isle of Man the move was a business decision, but indicated that the move could have been spurred by the jurisdiction's strict regulatory measures.

"They told us they are moving because of commercial reasons and not jurisdictional reasons," he said. "Some of our licensees have expressed concerns, but I think commercial pressures are to be expected."

Wilsenach declined comment on the regulatory approach in Isle of Man, but he said officials in Alderney have tried to balance sensible regulatory control with making sure its licensees can effectively compete with operators based elsewhere.

"This is a very mobile industry," he said. "If you try to regulate too much of it you won't have anything left to regulate because operators will go to the place with the weakest regulations."

Corlett, meanwhile, maintains that the Isle of Man's regulatory regime is a work in progress.

"We always wanted to regulate at the highest level of standards," Corlett explained. "We thought it was better to start strict and eventually have to relax your regulations later than to start off with a Laissez Faire approach and then try to get tough and reign everyone in after the horse is out of the barn and off and running."

In its letter to customers, Hard Rock said the move was " part of our continued effort to develop a better service for our customers."

The letter reads as follows:

Important Announcement from

As part of our continued effort to develop a better service for our customers we are moving from the Isle of Man to Alderney in the Channel Islands. Alderney is one of the jurisdictions able to issue online casino licenses in the British Isles and is amongst the most tightly regulated in the world.

The move will take place on Tuesday 1st July 2003.

  • Before we complete our move we are obliged by law to ensure that all our existing Isle of Man customers have a zero account balance.
  • If you currently have money in your account you should play or withdraw this before 09:00 on Monday 30th June. After this time any outstanding balance will be refunded to your registered card. If we are unable to do this a cheque will be sent to your registered address.
  • Games will cease to be available at 09:00 on Monday 30th June but will be available again on Tuesday 1st July. Please ensure that all game transactions are complete by 08:55 on Monday 30th June.
  • We will not be accepting any deposits or new registrations after 23:59 on Tuesday 24th June.
  • At 09:00 on Monday 30th June your Isle of Man account will be closed.
  • On Tuesday 1st July, once the move to Alderney has been completed, you will be able to access your account as before from the same web address, using your existing account details. You will also be able to deposit funds in your account and play games.

As a result of the change of location, the site will become the responsibility of Rank Interactive Gaming (Alderney) Limited. To this end we have had to make minor changes to the Terms and Conditions. These changes cover deposit and withdrawal limits and site exclusion policy. By playing after 1st July you will be subject to these Terms and Conditions.

In order to complete the move the casino will be unavailable for a short period between the 30th June and 1st July.

We would like to apologise in advance for any inconvenience this may cause.

We hope to see you back at the tables soon.

Customer Services

Pulling Rank - Hard Rock Hops from Isle of Man to Alderney is republished from
Kevin Smith
Kevin Smith