888 Holdings UK Gambling Commission

888 Holdings’ CEO says the US has the UK beat when it comes to gambling regulator communications. (Image: wikimediacommons)

They say the key to any successful relationship is communication. When it comes to the relationships between gambling companies and their regulators, one executive at 888 Holdings says that UK regulators could learn a little something from their US counterparts when it comes to having an open dialogue with the companies they oversee.

In a conference call that was mainly about the company’s positive first quarter results, 888 chief executive Bryan Mattingley took time to criticize the UK Gambling Commission, saying that they showed a lack of communication with their potential licensees when compared to US regulators. This comes as the UK is preparing to implement new rules and tax schemes that will affect the gambling industry in that nation.

Of course, working in the United States means dealing with different regulators in every state. As the major casino companies vying for licensing in Massachusetts have found, dealing with the relatively inexperienced commission there is very different from talking to veterans in Nevada or New Jersey. But for Mattingley, the difference between the nations has been striking.

Dialogue Lacking with UK Regulators

Mattingley said that while they talked to regulators in New Jersey and Nevada “almost on a weekly basis,” they had very little communication with the UK Gambling Commission. And while he said he felt that the Commission was generally getting it right in their regulation of the industry, he said that they were working on a “very congested timescale.”

He also took a moment to mention the company’s opposition to at least one of the new taxes the UK government plans on implementing.

“We are continually in dialogue with our colleagues in Gibraltar and we believe any regulation is good for the industry, as long as the regulation is there to protect the consumer and not to introduce the point of consumption tax,” said Mattingley.

That refers to the 15 percent tax that online gambling companies will face on any bets coming from the UK. The duty is known as a point of consumption tax because it is based on where the customer is located, rather than on where the company is headquartered. This tax is scheduled to go into effect in December of this year.

888 Marks Record Revenue

The main focus of the conference call was on the company’s record earnings. In the first quarter of 2014, 888 Holdings posted revenues of $114 million, the largest three-month figure in the firm’s history. That was up 11 percent from the $103 million they made in this time period last year.

Online casino play was still the driving force behind their earnings, as those games earned the company $54 million. Poker was up four percent to $25 million.

Mattingley also pointed out 888’s success in the newly regulated American online gambling markets. He reiterated the fact that 888 is the only company that can currently take advantage of the online poker player sharing agreement between Delaware and Nevada, showing the strength of their plan to be regulated in as many jurisdictions as possible.

Mattingley was particularly pleased with the 50 percent share 888 and Caesars have in New Jersey. However, he cited a report that said only about ten percent of New Jersey adults realized that Internet gambling was legal there, showing the industry could do more to help spread the word.

“We need to make sure people know it is legal, safe and secure,” Mattingley said. “Maybe it’s something we have to look at as an industry and not just as individual brands.”