Advertising Online Gambling - Is It Legal?

Advertising Online Gambling – Is It Legal?

Advertising Online Gambling – Is It Legal? One of the fastest-growing industries on the Internet is still gambling, which can be found in the so-called online casinos. Within a few years, this industry has become an extremely important economic factor. However, there are also problems, especially in the area of advertising. In the US and Canada, there have been repeated disputes over the advertising of online gambling in recent years, and in the UK the legal situation is also not entirely clear, nevertheless, Dream Vegas casino for UK gamblers remains perfectly legal in Britain.

In the USA, the applicable law is relatively clear. There, the Department of Justice assumes that gambling on the internet is an illegal activity. At the same time, this means that advertising for such games is also considered illegal. According to the US authorities, this view is based, among other things, on a ruling by the World Trade Organisation (WTO), which of course also applies to the market in Europe and especially in The United Kingdom. However, the law in UK is once again much more complicated, as there are different framework conditions than in North America.

Different interpretations

First of all, one should take a look at countries outside the European Union where many casinos on the internet have been granted a licence. Among others, the authorities in Antigua assume that the WTO decision means that operators with a licence issued there are allowed to operate in the USA as well as in other countries worldwide. In fact, the WTO had only dealt with this issue after a request from Antigua, which saw the free trade of a service in danger. Since the government in Antigua earns a lot of money with the licensing of online casinos, it is quite understandable that they want to do everything possible to create an environment that is as business-friendly as possible.

Of course, the dispute between little Antigua and the big USA is not only important for the two countries. After all, it is about a fundamental decision that is likely to have an impact on many other countries around the world. Where the servers or customer service are located, on the other hand, does not matter at all.

Implementation is difficult

Another point that applies to countries all over the world is the difficult implementation of the legal framework. Of course, from the point of view of the USA, the UK government or other countries, it is quite easy to declare gambling on the internet illegal and thus ensure that casinos are not allowed to be active in the respective market. Whether this can be implemented in practice, however, is quite another question. After all, it is possible from the UK or other countries to access a website abroad or to make payments to other countries without any problems.

If a company is based in a country like Antigua and has the necessary licence to offer games of chance there, it is first of all acting legel. If it is not one of the conditions of this licence not to accept players from certain countries, the operator of a casino is not in breach of the conditions even if the government of the other country considers gambling to be illegal. In this case, it would only be possible on the side of the players to implement the ban, but this is also enormously difficult, if not impossible. Without extensive monitoring of internet traffic, however, it will definitely not be feasible.

Turnover through advertising

Advertising for games of chance on the internet is of course closely linked to the question of whether such games are legal. Here, however, the implementation is somewhat easier in many cases. This is at least true if the media companies that earn money from advertising are based in a country where gambling on the internet is also considered illegal. It is therefore difficult for the internet portal of a The United Kingdom newspaper to earn money online by advertising gambling without violating the applicable laws.

From the point of view of the authorities, however, it is unfortunately not quite so simple. In addition to casino operators, website providers or large media companies are not necessarily based in a country where gambling on the internet is considered illegal. For example, anyone who wants to advertise on the internet in The United Kingdom can do so via Google, the proceeds of which then flow to a subsidiary of Google, which may be based in Luxembourg or Ireland, for example.

The legal situation in The United Kingdom

In general, the legal situation regarding online casinos in The United Kingdom is not easy to describe. The state monopoly on gambling in The United Kingdom is enforced by the individual federal states, which have agreed in a state treaty to enforce comparable regulations in all states. A few years ago, the state decided to opt-out of the state treaty and issue its own licences for online casinos.

It is true that the state government decided a short time later to return to the state treaty and to implement the requirements listed therein again. However, it is difficult to say with certainty in which form this will affect the advertising of the respective offers. In many cases, the associated requirements are likely to continue to occupy the courts in The United Kingdom, possibly even at the EU level, in the years to come.

The market already liberalised for some time

In The United Kingdom, a ruling by the Federal Constitutional Court in 2006, which overturned the state monopoly on games of chance, was particularly important. Until then, this monopoly had been upheld through the prevention of addiction, but the court considered the advertising of state gambling to be counterproductive, so the monopoly was no longer allowed to apply. Subsequently, the state treaty was amended, and there were also zealous legislative activities. In this way, the gambling instinct of The United Kingdom was to be steered into orderly channels; moreover, the state governments did not want to do without the high revenues from the licensing of casinos and lotteries.

The monopoly on gambling was of course also to be underlined by the fact that advertising for such offers was completely banned. Advertising on the internet, on television or via telecommunication systems was also completely banned. At first glance, such regulations seem relatively unambiguous; after all, due to the state monopoly, there are no variants where gambling on the internet would be legal. The various operators of such portals should therefore not expect to be able to legally advertise their offers.

Further disputes are programmed

Of course, one should not assume that the operators of portals for gambling on the internet will accept the regulations in The United Kingdom without lawsuits. On the contrary, the industry is growing rapidly, so the various providers must do everything they can to attract new customers and prevail against the many competitors. This is only possible with the help of extensive advertising, which of course cannot only be placed on their own websites. After all, advertising for such casinos can often be found on various websites presented by very different operators.

In The United Kingdom, moreover, not only the regulations of The United Kingdom authorities apply. In addition, the regulations in the EU must also be considered here. This applies especially to online casinos that have a licence from a member state of the EU. Among others, there are many casinos that have been licensed in Malta or Cyprus and are allowed to present their portfolio on the entire EU market due to this permission. How well the possible bans on gambling on the internet as well as advertising for such gambling can actually be enforced should therefore at least be doubted. In the coming years, there will certainly be one or the other ruling on such questions by courts at the national and EU level. Until then, many providers of games of chance on the internet will certainly take the risk of attracting the attention of state authorities with their advertising – after all, they can already secure some additional customers by doing so.

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