Littlewoods reviewing IOM online casino
By paul
Littlewoods Gaming is reviewing its Isle of Man (IOM) online casino operation, prompting rumours that the company may be the next to leave the troubled jurisdiction.

Littlewoods spokeswoman Suzanne Judge said: 'We are in the process of reviewing the casino after one year in operation. We're pleased with how it has gone so far. This will be an assessment of how we will be moving the facility forward and how we will offer the best choice to our customers.'

However, Judge did not rule out the possibility of the casino being relocated. Asked what differentiated the Littlewoods casino from the other operators which have closed down, Ms Judge said: 'I guess it depends on where their business strategies lie'.

Industry trade magazine Coinslot International reported “strong rumours” that Littlewoods will move its online casino operation from the IOM until the 'Island's regulatory framework is considered to be more conducive to doing business”.

Similar concerns have been cited by other major gambling operations that have discontinued or moved their online casinos from the Isle of Man. MGM Mirage closed its IOM-based online casino June 31 this year. MGM’s move followed this the earlier closure of Kerzner International’s Casino Atlantis Online and Action Online Entertainment’s Club Fiore moving their operations to Kahnawake. Rank Interactive’s Hard Rock Casino Online has also jumped ship, moving to rival jurisdiction Alderney.

MGM cited 'legal and political climate in the US and several countries around the world' as part of the reasons for its decision. Kerzner International, MGM Mirage and Littlewoods were granted online casino licences by the Manx government in September 2001.

Kerzner International said that “without the potential for expansion into other markets, including the US, the outlook for new business has substantially decreased and achieving profitability is unlikely in the short to medium-term”. Kerzner’s Tobin Prior, in an interview with OCN, said that some of the IOM’s procedures proved frustrating:

“Customers could only withdraw to the initial deposit method, so they couldn't make larger withdrawals via alternative methods such as wire transfer if they had initially deposited by credit card, even though both methods were acceptable in the jurisdiction.” Another problem was that recertification of the full software suite was required for even relatively minor modifications or updates.

Will Greenhow, acting chief executive officer of the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) said: “The industry is still in its infancy; we must accept that we may face further setbacks as well as advances as it evolves over the next few years.”

Greenhow said the DHA, which has responsibility for the legislation and licensing of this industry, is in “active discussions with a number of high-quality” potential online casino licenceholders.

Derek Cannon, the IOM’s Gaming Inspector told OCN recently that the Isle is looking to appoint an igaming ambassador to promote the jurisdiction. Two new online bookmaker licensees have recently been announced - Chronicle and Paddy Power – but the IOM can scarce afford to lose Littlewoods, its sole remaining online casino licensee.

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