Minister Seeks Code for Online Casinos
By James Mc
Tessa Jowell, the UK’s culture secretary, is to host a summit in October aiming for international agreement on a new code of practice for offshore gaming centres from Gibraltar, the Cayman Islands, the Turks and Calicos Islands, Antigua and Costa Rica.

The government plans to invite the International Monetary Fund and World Trade Organisation, along with ministers from all the main offshore gaming jurisdictions to debate the inclusion of provisions such as requiring age verification checks.

However, Britain could face an uphill task in persuading offshore centres to put at risk a lucrative source of revenue by imposing much tighter regulations. 'I don't pretend that it will be easy or straightforward to put together an agreement,' Ms Jowell admitted.

'It's perfectly possible we will provide these protections here in the UK but people in significant numbers will continue to gamble online with sites in centres such as the Cayman Islands.'

Last year's Gambling Act set up a legal framework for gambling sites to be based onshore in the UK from September next year, allowing Licensed UK-based sites to offer games such as online poker. However the main factor influencing the commercial viability of the new UK-licensed sites will be the tax regime which chancellor

Gordon Brown is expected to defer his decision upon until next year's Budget.

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