One ot the world's more whimsical entities, once touted as a potential refuge for the original Napster-style music sharing service, the Principality of Sealand is going into the online gambling business" />

Sealand Launches Offshore Online Casino

3475 The world's smallest "country," Sealand's Prince Regent Michael, has announced the appointment of the Sealand Casino, an independent online Casino, to his Royal Household as one which has been determined to offer a trusted and interesting opportunity to users.

This appointment is the first Royal appointment ever made and Prince Regent Michael says he is pleased to endorse this product as one it is hoped will provide benefit to users.

To commemorate the opening, the Sealand Casino is offering to match 100 per cent of all first deposits or provide new players with a Ł100 sign-up bonus.

As The Register's Burke Hansen observes, "This pronouncement is sure to raise the hackles of the U S Justice Department, which has been on a veritable crusade against online gambling for the last couple of years. How Sealand plans to outflank American domination of the international banking system is unclear, but Sealand is a sovereign nothingness with an outlaw history."

A Sealand Casino Website has been posted, but there's not a whole lot there as yet.

In case it's eluded your notice, Sealand, with its own flag, stamps, national anthem, coins and passport, is actually a 550-square-metre artificial platform built during World War II as a wartime fortress called "Rough's Tower" located seven miles off the English coast near Felixstowe and Harwich. Sealand is constructed of two hollow concrete cylinders, heavily reinforced, 12-24" thick, with eight rooms in each, and a steel platform, on top of which is additional accomodation, lifting gear, and a helideck.


The history of Sealand is a story of a struggle of self-styled individualism against bureaucracy.

In 1965, former English major Paddy Roy Bates and his family set up a pirate radio station on Fort Knock John, one of several abandoned WWII sea forts, and started broadcasting music and advertisements. The 5-kilowatt Radio Essex could reach roughly a quarter of England, but was forced to shut down becaust it was just within Britain's 3 mile territorial limit..

Undaunted, On 2 September 1967, Roy and his son Michael, 15 at the time, dismantled their radio station and hauled everything to Roughs Tower, which was 6 miles out and beyond the then-existing territorial limit. In response, the British military blew up another fort that stood beyond the 3-mile boundary to prevent a similar takeover there.

Sealand was founded on the principle that any group of people dissatisfied with the oppressive laws and restrictions of existing nation states may declare independence in any place not claimed to be under the jurisdiction of another sovereign entity. Bates' sovereignty claim has been upheld by courts, and given de facto recognition by some European countries, but Britain refuses to recognize it.

After intensive discussions with English lawyers, Roy Bates proclaimed Sealand his own state. Claiming jus gentium, he bestowed upon himself the title of Prince and the title of Princess to his wife, and subsequently made the state the Principality of Sealand. Roy Bates, henceforth Roy of Sealand, exerted state authority on the island and thus was an absolute sovereign. The royal family and/or other persons that have declared loyalty to Sealand have occupied Sealand ever since.


The independence of Sealand was upheld in a 1968 British court decision where the judge held that Roughs Tower stood in international waters and did not fall under the legal jurisdiction of the United Kingdom. This gave birth to Sealand's national motto of E Mare Libertas, or "From the Sea, Freedom".

The official language of Sealand is English and the Sealand Dollar has a fixed exchange rate of one U.S. dollar. Passports and stamps have been in circulation since 1969 and the latter decade of the 20th century saw an impressive expansion in its activity both socially and industrially as it began to develop a growing economic base which underscored its long-standing membership of the international community of States," or so says the Sealand Website.

A website which was originally constructed for Sealand is located at ; there you can find early pictures and other information relating to the first 25 years of the island's life.

The legal waters were muddied somewhat when the U.K. extended its territorial limit to 12 miles from the earlier three miles on 1 October, 1987. The previous day, Prince Roy declared the extension of Sealand's territorial waters to be a like 12 nautical miles, so that right of way from the open sea to Sealand would not be blocked by British claimed waters. No treaty has been signed between Britain and Sealand to divide up the overlapping areas, but a general policy of dividing the area between the two countries down the middle can be assumed. International law does not allow the claim of new land during the extension of sea rights, so Sealand's sovereignty was safely "grandfathered" in. Sealand contends that Britain has no more right to Sealand's territory than Sealand has to the territory of the British coastline that falls within its claimed 12 nautical mile arc.

Interestingly, the Internet gave Sealand a new lease on life. HavenCo Limited leases exclusively its offices and operations centres in Sealand, where it offers, and is able to offer, unparalleled security and independence to users who wish to take advantage of its Internet colocation services.

As HavenCo, whose corporate slogan is "the free world just milliseconds away," puts it:

"HavenCo Limited is exploiting a unique opportunity to set up the world's first real data haven. The initial showcase datacenter is the Principality of Sealand, the world's smallest sovereign territory. It was founded over thirty years ago and has obtained a unique legal status as the only sovereign man-made island. Its claim to sovereignty has been tested and supported in several legal challenges."

Roy Bates, now 85 and living in Spain has abdicated in favor of Prince Michael Bates, 54, Sealand's current head of state, who is looking for investors, offering Sealand citizenship to anyone who donates money.

In advocating Sealand as a base for online gambling or offshore banking, Prince Michael told the BBC, "The neighbours are very quiet. There is a good sea view."

I'm no fan of gambling, on or off line, but you gotta' love the Monty Pythonesque insouciance of these guys,

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Charles W. Moore

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