There’s been an ’unprecedented’ number of applications from online gambling operators which could increase the number of active licences by nearly a third, says the boss of the gaming regulatory body.

Steve Brennan said it has been ’unusually busy’ including a surge in e-gaming business during the lockdown.

Mr Brennan, the chief executive of the Isle of Man Gambling Supervision Commission (GSC) also said the news that Celton Manx is introducing a ’live dealer’ studio is a ’significant milestone’ for the island.

The e-gaming sector already contributes more than a 21% share in the island’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

As we went to press there were 45 active licences shown on the GSC website.

Mr Brennan said eight applications have been recently approved but are not yet active and there are seven applications being processed for approval.

He added: ’We also anticipate that a further five applications will be lodged with us in the next three months.’

Mr Brennan told Business News: ’With respect to the broader e-gaming sector in the Isle of Man, it is unusually busy for us at the moment. While not all types of operation require licensing by the GSC, we are nonetheless processing an unprecedented number of applications for online gambling operators.’

He believes there are two reasons for the high numbers.

He said: ’The first is the introduction of a new type of licence, designed for organisations that sell gambling software to the sector. That came into operation in February 2019 and we’ve now had a chance to gauge industry’s response.

’These new software supplier licenses now account for a quarter of all of the active licenses we have issued. We have 45 live licensees at the moment, so these new licence types represent a very rapid growth in demand.

’The second reason is that we didn’t shut down during the lockdown. Instead we switched to home working.

’The lockdown period was busier than normal for us. As well as the usual business of supervision we received or completed a high number of applications.

’By the time we have closed those out, and added to the ones that we have received since the lockdown was lifted, we will have some 60 licenses to supervise, which is a 30% increase on today’s numbers.’

Lyle Wraxall, chief executive, Digital Isle of Man executive agency told Business News: ’We have lots and lots going on at the moment but with e-gaming specifically we are seeing a huge amount of opportunity right now.

’We are seeing high numbers of applications.’

He said Mr Brennan and his team at the GSC were ’as busy as they have ever been’.

Mr Wraxall said he has only been ’here for a couple of years and in conversations with people before me it’s certainly the largest amount of opportunity we have seen for a considerable number of years’.

He said it was pleasing to see so much interest from a diverse group of types of businesses coming from different jurisdictions, all of whom were attracted by the quality of the island’s gambling licences and from the safe and secure element of the Isle of Man.

Mr Wraxall said the situation was looking very positive.

’Obviously we are not sitting on our laurels and just rubbing our hands with glee.

’We are also looking at this to see how we use this to re-cement our position as a leader in the e-gaming sector.

’And with any kind of momentum like this you really start creating the view that the Isle of Man is the place to be if you are a serious and really quality e-gaming business.

’We are doing a couple of campaigns just in lieu of the fact that we cannot get out to conferences that are not just happening at the moment because of the pandemic.

’We are making sure that strong messaging is going out there and raising awareness that the Isle of Man is very much open for business.’