|According to numerous media reports this week, the Isle of Man-based Ascot group of online casinos is to shut immediately following a decision by its Malaysian tycoon owner, Tan Sri Vincent Tan, to exit the Internet gambling market completely.|
AscotSports.com now features a single page stating that the site is ‘temporarily unavailable due to system maintenance’, a message duplicated on its Chinese-language mirror launched last year.
The site along with its AscotSportal.com information portal premiered a few months before the 2006 World Cup in Germany and the company also established a call centre in the Philippines to support taking bets from Malaysian bettors in order to bypass the nation’s tight laws against gambling. Later that year, the company expanded its services by launching a four-digit lottery product online with punters having their choices drawn against the results of any one of three operators in Malaysia.
'It is a commercial business decision by the parent company to stop operating in the online gambling arena,” said Garth Kimber, Head of E-Gaming for the Isle of Man’s Department of Trade and Industry.
'The company is having daily dialogue with the Isle of Man Gambling Supervision Commission who are ensuring that player funds are being returned to the players as part of an orderly withdrawal from the industry.
'At present there are no major identifiable problems with the process. The Gambling Commission will continue to liase with the company and monitor the situation.'