Antigua-Barbuda not scared of U.K. gambling ad ban


Antigua-Barbuda is confident it will be exempt from the British government's Web advertising restrictions that stand to affect 1,000 Web sites.

The restrictions are a part of the 2005 Gambling Act, which goes into effect this September. The ban is directed at gambling advertisements for companies operating outside the European Economic Area that have not been given approval by the Department for Culture, Media and Sports (DCMS). The restrictions are in place to prevent underage gambling while combating criminal activities.

Antigua is considered to have the largest number of gambling operators in the world. It has 537 of the estimated 2,300 worldwide online gambling sites. One is Bodog, which recently moved there from Costa Rica.

Last week the DCMS released a "white list" of countries whose gambling operators will be allowed to advertise on television and radio and in print. The list included the European Union, Norway, Iceland, Gibraltar, the Isle of Man, Alderney and Liechtenstein. Companies headquartered in these countries will not be subject to advertising restrictions.

Among those rejected were Netherlands Antilles, Alexander Canadian Reservation and Tasmania. Any online poker or casino business based there will not be permitted to advertise in the U.K.

Government officials in Antigua are arguing the country should be allowed to advertise in the U.K. because their strict regulations coincide with what the U.K. is trying to accomplish with their gambling laws.

Even if Antigua's betting companies were placed on the U.K.'s blacklist the impact would likely be negligible. The Antiguan government has said that it will keep trying and that it's just a matter of time before it achieves white list status.

Many countries which host gambling operators haven't even bothered to apply for exemption. Costa Rica and Belize, two major players in the online gambling business, did not apply and will not be allowed to advertise in the U.K. after the gambling bill goes into effect.

Along with Antigua, Kahnawake in Canada is still waiting for British government approval to advertise.

Gambing operators will be allowed to move from a blacklisted jurisdiction to an approved jurisdiction or to the EEA. They will then have to reapply for a place on the white list.

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