Guernsey Press

Sark must amend new gambling law

SARK has about a year to establish itself as an e-gaming jurisdiction.


SARK has about a year to establish itself as an e-gaming jurisdiction. The island has already drawn up a gambling law, which received Royal assent last month.

But the e-Gaming Committee said it had discovered a problem with its wording. It has recommended an amendment to a Chief Pleas meeting at the end of the month.

'There is no explicit provision for Chief Pleas to retain as general revenue a surplus from the licensing of gambling activities,' said the committee.

Section 2 of the new law gives Chief Pleas the power to levy 'fees and other charges' in relation to the licensing of gambling.

But the island needs the specific consent of Her Majesty and the Privy Council if it wants to introduce any kind of taxation.

Committee member Jonathan Brannam said an amendment was needed to make sure the island would be able to benefit from e-gaming business.

'The new law was not specific enough. This is just making sure we have the power to get what we thought we would.

'The whole purpose of enacting Sark gambling legislation is to earn additional revenues for the island, so the omission must be rectified urgently before any licenses are issued.'

The committee said it favoured the simpler fixed-odds-type games such as bingo, slots and poker for the island to promote.

'These will not be attractive to criminals but are online activities undertaken by some two million Europeans during January 2003 - an increase of 100% over 12 months.'

But the committee said it was important any e-gaming industry was well regulated.

'The Law Officers have indicated that they have very limited legislative drafting time available during 2003, so Chief Pleas will need to find someone else with the experience to draft appropriate and effective ordinances.'

The committee is hoping to bring forward further details, including a limited number of draft ordinances, to the Easter meeting of Chief Pleas.

This meeting will also consider a report from the Isle of Sark Shipping Company about the purchase of a new vessel to replace the Bon Marin.

It will be asked to consider the rearrangement of the company's finances prior to the possible purchase of the new boat.

The Public Health Committee is asking Chief Pleas to think carefully about the introduction of a dog-fouling law.

Chairman David Melling said a voluntary system should be introduced for a trial period before implementing a new law.

'Most dog owners are more likely to co-operate voluntarily than if they were forced by law to do so,' he said.

The meeting will also be asked to approve the Merchant Shipping (Bailiwick of Guernsey) Law.

The Easter meeting is on Wednesday 26 March at 7pm in the Island Hall.

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