The UK Gambling Commission has hired its first general counsel to oversee the UK’s internet gambling industry, just as the US Department of Justice (DoJ) signalled a crackdown with the arrest of BetonSports chief executive David Carruthers.
The UK aims to be a home for a regulated gambling industry and the hire of the General Teaching Council’s chief lawyer Neil McArthur shows a moderation in sharp contrast to the tough line pursued by the US authorities.
The US DoJ sparked fears of a wave of extraditions of UK gaming executives as it works a tax evasion charge into its indictment.
The general counsel of a rival online gaming company commented: “This is consistent with what [the US has] done in the past, which is to go after operators with a particular model.”
He said BetonSports was at risk because a large proportion of its revenue comes from US sports book wagering and it has a US founder in Gary Kaplan.
Under the terms of the Extradition Treaty 2003, accusations of tax evasion expose UK directors with US-facing operations, as it is illegal in both the UK and US as opposed to gambling, which is not. Mark Spragg, a partner at Jeffrey Green Russell and adviser to the extradited three former NatWest executives, said: “This has nothing to do with tax evasion in reality.”
Two weeks ago the US House of Representatives approved a Republican bill to crack down on internet gambling, while the UK regulator’s role is to make sure the gambling industry flourishes within a safe environment.
The UK Gambling Commission is searching for two more enforcement lawyers to join McArthur and complete a full legal team.
At the moment the commission outsources all of its legal work to niche firm Gregory Rowcliffe Milners.
New York litigation firm Kronish Lieb Weiner & Hellman is advising BetonSports in the US. McGrigors and Mishcon de Reya, which helped float the company, are advising the company in the UK.