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The Isle of Man, today announced the allocation of the Island’s first three international internet gambling licences with Littlewoods Leisure, the UK gaming company and operator of football Pools; MGM MIRAGE, owner of Las Vegas gaming landmarks the Mirage and the MGM Grand; and SunOnline Limited, a division of Sun International Hotels Ltd, a global resort and casino operator, all hitting the jackpot.

Allan Bell, IoM home affairs minister, announced that the combination of a competitive tax regime and a strict regulatory environment has attracted a rush of applications from large casino and gaming operators searching for a safe, well-regulated base for their proposed online casinos.

All three operators will have to set aside £2m to guarantee the payouts to winners and observe tough money laundering rules to parallel the Isle of Man’s strict financial regulations. Licences cost £80,000 with a three-year life span.

Internet casino licences are not available in the UK due to Judi Slot legal restrictions covering the promotion of gambling. As a self-governing crown dependency, the Isle of Man is not affected by such restrictions and is free to offer internet licences offshore. Mr Bell is to seek approval of Tynwald – the Isle of Man Parliament – in October for a further nine licences for issue, which could be granted as early as November 2001.

Bell said: “The web has opened up global opportunities undreamt of a few years ago. It abolishes borders, creates global distribution channels – and means that a jurisdiction like the Isle of Man, with a population of 75,000 can be the centre of a world business.”

SunOnline Limited is a wholly owned subsidiary of Sun International Hotels Limited, the NYSE listed resort and casino operator, which was established to spearhead the group’s online gaming ambitions. SunOnline CEO Tobin Prior said: “We have all the financial resources needed to establish ourselves as a major online player.”

The company will use the Isle of Man licence as the basis for its global operations. “The value for us in acquiring the licence is the chance to establish a meaningful position in legitimate online gambling in a globally-respected regulatory environment,” said Prior. “We think that about 70% of existing online gambling business is illegitimate and regulating it this way is bound to grow the market.”

Three firms to receive Internet gambling licenses

LONDON — United Kingdom gambling companies Stanley Leisure Organisation PLC and Sportech PLC, along with MGM MIRAGE of Las Vegas, will receive Internet gambling licenses from the Isle of Man Thursday, the Financial Times reported.

The Isle of Man in the British Isles will award the licenses as part of a drive by the British dependency to position itself as a center for investment by Internet ventures, the newspaper said.