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The Isle of Man is best known, albeit unfairly, as an offshore “tax haven” but the fact is that less than 30% of the islands economy is related to the finance sector.

Indeed the Isle of Man is a successful international business centre with a large manufacturing base. Over 90% of the world’s electric kettle elements are made here and there is a flourishing aerospace industry. Not only that, there is long established culture of innovation and development, both in the manufacturing and in the service industries.

This commitment to innovation is well demonstrated by considering one of the key growth sectors: e-gaming.
 
Garth Kimber is the head of the Isle of Man Department of Trade and Industry’s e-gaming development department.

At a recent conference Mr Kimber claimed that the e-gaming sector, which has been in existence for eight years, has made a significant impact on the Isle of Man’s economy.

He explained that “despite the current economic downturn the sector has grown by 30 per cent over the last year with a 50 per cent increase in companies now holding licences to operate in the Island.”

This has resulted in the creation of more than 460 top quality jobs (remember that this country has a total population of less than 80,000 adults and children so 460 is a significant number) and he said that this figure is estimated to grow by at least another 100 by the end of 2009.
 
The total spend (excluding capital spend) by the industry in the Isle of Man during 2008 was £91 million, which is estimated to increase to £118 million during 2009. In addition the industry generated a tax income of £5.1 million in 2008, which is estimated to rise to £6.2 million during 2009.

Mr Kimber also pointed out that there are other benefits from the e-gaming boom because of the need to attract or to utilise supporting specialist businesses in the legal, accounting, financial and IT sectors. The quality of staff employed in the sector is high, both professional and technical. This is not a “call centre” low-income sector.

Key to the attraction of the Isle of Man for the e-gaming industry is the well developed IT infrastructure. The fact is that telecoms operators such as Manx Telecom have a massive amount of spare high speed (and low cost) capacity and they are not in danger of running out of capacity for decades to come. Compare this to Malta, the other centre for e-gaming, who are almost at the limit of their capacity and you can see that the Isle of Man is in pole position to dominate the e-gaming sector.

According to Global Betting and Gaming Consultants, the Manx based leading consultancy in the gaming industry, the general outlook for the industry is strong. It estimates the global interactive gambling market to be worth US$20.3 billion in 2008 (measured by the amount the customers lost) and this is estimated to rise to US$ 29.1 billion by 2012. The more of this can can be streamed through the Isle of Man the better.

So there you are. The fact is that you can bet your shirt on the Isle of Man.

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