http://bbccaribbean.com

10 August, 2007 - Published 19:14 GMT

Gambling websites face ad ban

Some one thousand gambling online sites based overseas are to be banned from advertising in the UK under incoming rules announced by the British government.

Antigua/Barbuda, which already has an online gaming dispute with the United States, is hoping that its sites won't be included in the British list.

But countries like Belize aren't so fortunate.

The new rules take effect on September 1, when the Gambling Act is enforced.

The department of Culture, Media and Sports says the aim is to stop unregulated gambling sites from trying to attract UK customers.

"I make no apology for banning adverts for websites operating from places that don't meet our strict standards. Protection is my number one priority," Culture Secretary James Purnell said in reference to the government's decision on the matter.

Several countries affected

Under the new law, any online firm based in gaming hotspots such as Costa Rica, the Netherlands Antilles and Belize will not be able to market in the UK.

The government says although the firms have been granted licences to run internet poker and casino websites, they are based in countries that do not have strong enough regulations against internet gaming.

The UK's move comes as Antigua continues to battle with the US at the World Trade Organisation, over the American ban on online gambling.

Britain has been sympathetic to Antigua, but is still to decide whether to grant permission to firms based in that Caribbean country.

If it does, Antigua will join what's being described as white-listed countries that'll still be allowed to advertise in the UK.

They include gambling sites operating from the European Union, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Gibraltar, and the Isle of Man.