Why the UK is ‘the center of the universe’
By paul
The UK is the center of the universe for online gambling companies, according to online casino software provider CryptoLogic, who last week decided to list on the London Stock Exchange. So why the UK? Jim Ryan, CryptoLogic chief financial officer, said: 'The UK government's efforts to put in place legislation to regulate online gaming is very attractive to us.'

The Financial Times cites high street bookmaker William Hill, which has grown its internet betting business from nothing to an annual turnover of about £400 million ($658 million) in four years. The average online wager in the UK is £50 ($82) compared with £5 ($8.20) in a betting shop.

The UK government has proposed a liberalization of the industry which is expected to regulate internet gambling. That followed the UK government’s decision to abolish betting duty for punters, replacing it with a tax on bookmakers' gross profits.

The established bookmakers are finding that the internet is an opportunity to attract new, sophisticated customers, and gives them access to punters from across the globe.

Andrew Burnett, gaming analyst at Merrill Lynch, says a gradual consolidation in the industry is making the market more attractive to the mainstream gaming brands: 'The business isn't going away and the demand is growing at an exponential rate but the supply in terms of competition has diminished.'

The deregulation proposals have made the country the 'major credible jurisdiction', bringing in substantial tax revenue. But Burnett said the proposed legislation may not become law until 2007 or 2008 because of lack of parliamentary time and the likelihood of a general election in two years.

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