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Kevin Smith

UK Government, Gaming Group Share Goa

24 January 2002

Interactive gaming interests in England are gearing up for what they hope is a future of regulated gaming on the Internet.

A new association has been formed among I-gaming operators and suppliers to help give the industry a unified voice as the U.K. government moves forward with recommendations in Alan Budd's Gambling Review Report. The Interactive Gaming, Gambling and Betting Association held its inaugural meeting today in London, and nearly 35 operators and others tied to the industry attended in a sign of unity within the industry.

"They all agree that they want gaming on the Internet. It is once you get below the surface of the issue and start to ask the questions of how and look at the other issues that come along with taking such a step that opinions start differing."
-Wes Himes

"It was a great meeting for us," said IGGBA spokesman Wes Himes.

At the same time operators were meeting, a government official in the United Kingdom said if everything goes smoothly, there could be regulated interactive gaming in Britain within the next two years.

Clive Hawkswood, an official with the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, sat in on the IGGBA meeting and said that while there are many interactive gaming interests wanting to shape the way regulations and legislation are written, the regulatory process will benefit from the industry having a unified voice.

Hawkswood's Gambling and National Lottery Licensing Division of the DCMS is expected to release its recommendations on the Budd report in early March. Those recommendations will lay the foundation for any legislation that is passed in the Parliament. Hawkswood said after his office releases its recommendations, there will be a period of input from all interested parties.

With entities representing sports betting, bingo, lotteries, casino gaming and a host of other interactive-ready gaming platforms involved, Hawkswood said, competing interests can oftentimes slow the process.

"They all agree that they want gaming on the Internet," he said. "It is once you get below the surface of the issue and start to ask the questions of how and look at the other issues that come along with taking such a step that opinions start differing."

Which is right where Himes' group comes in. He hopes the group will play an integral part in shaping the process by which I-gaming regulations are formed.

"We know once the recommendations come out, there will be a great opportunity for us to work with the government," he said. "There will have to be some compromise for the process to work, but we will be able to go to them and tell them what kinds of things we want to see."

Himes said his group's priorities will be known, but he feels the only way true progress will be made in the United Kingdom is if both sides are willing to make concessions. He said the group is fully prepared to set high standards for money laundering, credit card use, the blocking of minors and any other concerns the government may have.

"We want to see this happen, but just like the government, we want to see it happen correctly," Himes said.

Hawkswood said even after recommendations are taken and regulations are written by the Parliament, it would take at least two years to set up the proper commissions and offices and their budgets. Both Hawkswood and Himes are confident that regulated interactive gaming of some form will become reality in England.

"I think there will be a rather open regulation," Himes said. "They will probably allow interactive gaming on many platforms, whether it be the Internet, interactive TV, wireless or some other form."

As both a world and European leader, the British government is not about to rush the process, but the country would have much to gain if it can be one of the first world powers to regulate Internet gambling, Himes said.

"Here (gaming) is a way of life and if we can show the industry that we are willing to take on the challenge, then I think there is a good chance a large influx of business would come our way," he said

UK Government, Gaming Group Share Goa is republished from
Kevin Smith
Kevin Smith