The Gibraltar government published on 31 May a draft Bill for an Act to repeal and replace the Gambling Act 2005 to reflect current needs and circumstances for Gibraltar to remain an attractive and reputable location for the gaming industry. It would require companies to have a presence in Gibraltar, whilst also looking into the suitability of their owners. The consultation period will be open until the end of August 2022.
The five drafted objectives for the regulation of gambling in Gibraltar include preservation of confidence in gambling markets; protection of consumers, particularly vulnerable people; promoting ‘fair and responsible’ gambling; preventing links between gambling and crime; and the public interest and reputation of Gibraltar.
The Bill would factor in certain “threshold conditions” that all operators must meet to be licensed, including conduct of business, suitability of owners, responsible gambling, prevention of crime and location of offices.
A spokesperson for HM Government of Gibraltar said: “The core concepts are standards and suitability and having a sufficient substantive presence in Gibraltar. These are the criteria both for the grant of a licence and, on an ongoing basis, for an own initiative decision by the licensing authority to consider revoking or varying a licence.”
The Bill would establish more flexibility in relation to licensing (especially around the issue of equipment location) and extend the activities that require licensing and the categories of licences. It would also greater transparency and accountability of decision-making by the licensing authority and the regulator.
The Bill introduces a right of appeal to a new Gambling Appeals Tribunal and an ‘approved persons’ regime, which requires persons carrying out certain regulated functions to be approved by the regulator (regulated individuals). It further introduces a regime in relation to changes in shareholder control of a licensed gambling operator.
The Bill provides for an appropriate range of modern, regulatory investigatory and enforcement powers and sanctions to ensure that the licensing authority or the regulator has the necessary options to ensure an appropriate and timely, but fair and proportionate response to regulatory and licensing contraventions.
Finally, the Bill intentionally draws from, and replicates parts of, the Financial Services Act 2019. This is intended to facilitate the emergence of a ‘Gibraltar style and approach’ to licensing and regulation of regulated industries, to facilitate professional understanding and consistency of approach.
Gibraltar is recognised as one of the leading centres for online gaming in the world, and many of the largest players in the industry have their head offices in Gibraltar. Companies are attracted to set up in Gibraltar for various factors, including its tight regulatory environment, its advanced telecommunications infrastructure, its experienced and skilled workforce, as well as its competitive tax environment.