Ruling threatens offshore betting

A Court of Appeal judgment has closed a legal loophole allowing offshore bookmakers to advertise bets in the UK through Teletext and, by inference, the Internet.

The decision will have dramatic ramifications for the UK betting industry, which is moving increasingly online and offshore to avoid betting duty.

Yesterday (Tuesday), the Court of Appeal reversed a landmark decision by the High Court in July that allowed Gibraltar-based bookmaker Victor Chandler International (VCI) to advertise its bets in the UK on Teletext.

The High Court decided Section 9 (1) (b) of the Betting & Gaming Act 1981 – which prohibits the circulation in the UK of “advertising or other documents” relating to bets with offshore bookmakers – did not apply to Teletext, and therefore the Net.

The High Court ruled an ad on Teletext did not constitute a document but was “merely transmitted information”.

Labrokes International – from Gibraltar – and in the Channel Islands have been exploiting the loophole to run online operations and ad campaigns.

Now the Court of Appeal says the Act must take account of technological advances and the ads held on VCI’s computers and Teletext must be regarded as documents, and therefore banned in the UK.

Unless VCI appeals successfully to the House of Lords, offshore Net bookmakers risk prosecution if bets are offered to UK customers, according to Charlie Swan, a partner in media law firm Simkins Partnership.

Swan says: “I can’t see any big difference between the Net and Teletext.”

Latest from Marketing Week

Influencers, consultancies and the recruitment crisis: The key topics of conversation at Cannes Lions

cannes lions

Cannes Lions 2018: Marketers turned out in force to advertising’s biggest annual event. But away from the usual talk of purpose and creativity, some big issues such as the recruitment crisis, how advertising responds to the #MeToo movement and cleaning up the influencer marketing space were discussed.


Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and opinion that will help you do your job better.

Register and receive the best content from the only UK title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work. The more we know about our visitors, the better and more relevant content we can provide for them. And, yes, knowing our audience better helps us find commercial partners too. Don't worry, we won't share your information with other parties, unless you give us permission to do so.

Register now


Our award winning editorial team (PPA Digital Brand of the Year) ask the big questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.


From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we are your guide.


Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3703 or email

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here