The Isle of Man is a curious place. Located between the Britain and Ireland in the Irish Sea, this island is not a stand-alone country, but it’s a self-governing community that is classed as a British Crown Dependency. Because of the Isle of Man’s unusual legal position, in which it falls outside the British jurisdiction, it’s allowed the island to thrive not only as a tax free haven, but it has also become one of the premier jurisdictions for regulated online gambling.
The Isle of Man might not be a prime travel destination for gamblers the way Las Vegas, Macau and Monte Carlo might be, but when it comes to online gambling, the Isle of Man is a heavy-weight player. Thus, it is essential to get into Isle of Man gambling laws in order to understand the dynamics of the online gambling industry in Isle of Man.
History of Gambling in the Isle of Man
The Isle of Man might not have a gambling pedigree the same way Monaco does, and even though the crown dependency only has one casino of note, the Isle of Man has pushed itself into the gambling history books via its dominance of the online gaming market.
In 1962, the Isle of Man Gambling Supervision Commission (GSC) was set up to regulate the forms of gambling on the island, which today includes a land-based casino, amusement and slot machines, a lottery and sportsbooks, and also includes the online division as well. The commission was established to protect the gambler’s interest so that players get their winnings and to reduce crime affiliated with gambling.
However, because of the Isle of Man’s tax-friendly jurisdiction, the crown dependency saw a lot of success with its entry into online gambling in the early 21st century, even becoming one of the very first jurisdictions to offer a legislation to regulate online gaming and the activity of e-gaming companies.
History of Online Gambling in the Isle of Man
The Isle of Man was one of the very first jurisdictions to regulate e-gaming companies to establish a secure atmosphere for players. The main event marking the Isle of Man’s entry into the online gaming world was GSC’s Online Gambling Regulation Act 2001 (OGRA).
One factor that pushed the Isle of Man into excellence is its quality of service and consideration for the player. A part of that is its comprehensive data protection laws, which in 2002 most notably featured in the Data Protection Act 2002, based on the UK version in 1998. This gave effect to protect individuals when it came to processing their personal data and the movement of such data.
In April 2004, the island was recognized by the European Commission for having an adequate data protection legislation. Because of the Isle of Man’s autonomy, where its political and legislative independence takes place through the island’s own parliament called Tynwald, which has the longest continuous legislature in the world. What is important to note is that English law does not extend to the Isle of Man unless approved by Tynwald.
In the world of online gaming, even though the Online Gaming Regulation Act was passed in 2001, the very first license to operate a live dealer online casino gaming was awarded to Celton Manx in 2009.
Culture of Gambling in the Isle of Man
Online gaming is one of the fastest growing sectors in the Isle of Man, boasting over 50 licensed gambling and e-gaming companies. The Isle of Man is attractive for many gaming companies, mostly due to it being a tax free zone, where betting taxes range from 0.1-1.5%. Also, the island has brilliant IT infrastructure and top-notch telecommunications networks. It’s also made it onto the famous “white list” as being one of the few gambling jurisdictions that are allowed to advertise in the UK.
Today, the Isle of Man has some of the largest e-gaming software companies and operators, like Microgaming, Playtech and PokerStars.
Outside of the online sector, you’ll also find land-based operations taking place on the Isle of Man. Casinos are allowed to operate on the island, but are only allowed to be open from 10 a.m. to 6 a.m., and casinos are not allowed to offer gaming on Good Friday or Christmas.
Sports betting is also popular on the Isle of Man, most predominantly racing, with bets being placed on and off course and in sports betting shops.
Casinos in Isle of Man
Casino gaming was legalized on the Isle of Man in 1986, but the casino regulations were only established in 1997, before being revised twice, once in 1999 and then in 2001. Casinos on the Isle of Man are subject to specific opening times and cannot be open on Christmas or Good Friday.
Palace Hotel and Casino
Located on Douglas, the principal city on the Isle of Man, this casino gaming space is attached to the Best Western and Hilton hotel. There are 160 gaming machines and seven table games, including games of blackjack, Caribbean stud poker and roulette.
Online Casinos in the Isle of Man
Because of the favorable conditions surrounding the Isle of Man’s licensing, many online casinos have opted to be licensed from the crown dependency. The Isle of Man holds some really big names in the online gaming world, like PokerStars, Paddy Power, Celton Manx, Knockout Casino and Fulltilt, among others.
In addition to being a popular licenser for online casinos, the Isle of Man is also home to some of the most important casino gaming software companies, such as Microgaming and Playtech.
Sports Betting in the Isle of Man
Sports betting, most predominantly racing, is a popular pastime on the Isle of Man. In 1988, the Gaming, Betting and Lotteries was passed and is overseen by the Gambling Supervision Commission. Bets for races can be placed both on and off course.
Online Sports Betting in the Isle of Man
Some of the most important online sportsbooks are licensed by the Isle of Man. Big names like Paddy Power and Galaxy Bet.
Bingo in the Isle of Man
Bingo is popular on the Isle of Man and it’s possible to find a good game of bingo in and around Douglas. The Palace Hotel and Casino has a bingo lounge, which is the most notable place to play. The bingo hall here can hold up to 300 players and games are held daily. There are also a number of bingo halls located across the island.
Online Bingo in the Isle of Man
Online bingo sites make up the large majority of online gaming sites that are licensed by the Isle of Man. Cozy Games Management Ltd. is one of the biggest bingo licensees located on the Isle of Man, with over 30 online bingo sites in operation. Other operators and licensees also host popular bingo games licensed from the Isle of Man.
Poker in Isle of Man
There is only one casino on the Isle of Man, the Palace Hotel and Casino. This is not a very big casino, sporting only 7 table games where the only variation of poker is Caribbean stud poker.
Online Poker in Isle of Man
While the land-based poker scene on the Isle of Man is nothing to write home about, the online poker scene from the crown dependency is big, especially since the Isle of Man is home to one of the biggest online poker sites in the world – PokerStars. Other poker sites licensed from the Isle of Man include Paddy Power Poker and Fulltilt Poker.
Lottery in Isle of Man
The UK National Lottery is available on the Isle of Man, where all the popular Lotto games are available for players to choose from, including Thunderball, Lotto Hot Picks, and instant win games.
The Isle of Man also hosts and licenses a variety of online lottery sites.