25. Advertising of gambling products and services will be allowed under a code of practice to ensure advertising is honest and fair. It is not yet clear whether this code will be statutory.
Credit card gambling
26. Restrictions on the use of credit cards will be lifted for all gambling, apart from direct use in gambling machines. All gambling debts will be made enforceable in law through the courts in the same way as other consumer contracts.
Casinos and machines
27. Casino development in Britain, as compared with the situation in Las Vegas for example, has been limited by two factors. First there are restrictions on the number and type of gaming machines allowed. It is gaming machines as a high volume, if low per capita return, activity that provides the main source of revenue for the Las Vegas casinos. Secondly, there are restrictions on entry (membership and the 24 hour waiting time), serving alcohol and putting on entertainment that have prevented British casinos developing the all-round leisure experience which, in Las Vegas, keeps punters within the environs of the casino and within reach of the gaming floor.
- These restrictions are virtually all to be lifted. In the case of alcohol and live entertainment these will not have to wait for primary legislation. However, the Government's approach seems unclear on the crucial question of whether its policy should or would encourage a few large resort-type casinos or pepper-pot development of many small casinos. The Government rests on the operation of the market and existing planning procedures: "Government's position is that the viability and desirability of resort casinos on the international model (e.g. Las Vegas) being established in this country are matters for commercial operators and local authorities to decide upon (the latter acting primarily in their planning role). We deal with this matter further below.
- The detailed position on gambling machines is complex and is dealt with below. In summary new categories have been created with what the Government regards as appropriately differentiated levels of regulation applying to each. The level of regulation and the rules on children and access have been determined largely to reflect the levels of stakes and prizes now allowed.
Other forms of gambling
30. A variety of money controls on bingo games will be removed, and rollovers will be allowed. Licensed betting offices will be able to offer a wider choice of food and drinks (but not alcohol), and off-course betting into greyhound track totes will be permitted. The Government intends to double the current limits on prizes and proceeds for society lotteries, and abolish the limits on stakes. Commercial lotteries will continue to be prohibited. There will be further deregulation of pool competitions, including provision for unlimited rollovers.
31. The Government will legalise the provision of the full range of on-line gambling services by operators based in the UK, including on-line gaming. A kitemark or similar mechanism will be introduced to enable prospective customers to distinguish between those sites that are licensed and regulated by the Gambling Commission and those that are not. On-line operators will need to meet the same entry standards as those in other gambling sectors, and their operations will be subject to approval and monitoring by the Commission to ensure compliance with regulations. Effective safeguards will be required to prevent children using on-line gambling sites.
- There will be a separate review of prize and promotional competitions.
The National Lottery
33. The Government has concluded that the maintenance of the National Lottery's current competitive position in broad terms must provide a constraint on the extent of deregulation of other sectors of the gambling market. It has therefore rejected the Review Body's recommendation that side betting should be permitted on the National Lottery results, and as already indicated intends to double, rather than abolish, the limits on prizes and proceeds in society lotteries. The Government does not, however, consider that the risks to the National Lottery from other changes recommended by the Review Body justify their rejection on these grounds.
- The Government intends to consider, in the context of its review of the arrangements for licensing and regulating the National Lottery, the scope for bringing the National Lottery Commission's regulatory responsibilities into the proposed Gambling Commission.
- The key recommendations from the Gambling Review report rejected or significantly modified by the Government were:
- that societies and local authorities who wish to run lotteries should have to register with the Gambling Commission and provide evidence that they are what they profess to be; be subject to personnel checks and random audits; and make returns in respect of lotteries above a certain size;
- that local authorities (to whom the power to licence will move) should ensure that gambling is the primary purpose of premises licensed for gambling;
- that local authorities have the power to institute a blanket ban on all, or particular types of, gambling premises in a specified area;
- that appeals against decisions made on the licensing of gambling premises should be dealt with in the same way as planning appeals;
- that gaming machines should be banned from premises other than those on which they are specifically permitted;
- that low stake/ low prize machines should be limited to cash prizes only;
- that machines such as cranes should not fall in the category of gaming machines;
- that the maximum prize for jackpot machines should be £500;
- that jackpot machines should be removed from private clubs. Such machines should be restricted to gambling specific premises. Private clubs should have the same entitlement to all-cash machines as pubs and other premises licensed for the sale and consumption of alcohol;
- that no more than four jackpot machines should be permitted in any bingo hall or betting shop;
- that the maximum stakes and prizes for jackpot machines and all-cash amusement-with-prizes machines (AWPs) should be increased only in line with inflation, as and when agreed with the Gambling Commission;
- that betting on the UK National Lottery should be permitted;
- that all societies wishing to promote societies' lotteries should register with the Gambling Commission, whatever the size of the proposed lottery; and
- that increased funding should be made available by the NHS for the treatment of problem gambling; that problem gambling should be recognised as a health problem by the Department of Health; and that Health Authorities should develop strategies for dealing with problem gambling.
Decisions not yet taken
36. A number of further consultations are going ahead on prize competitions, on-line gambling and the National Lottery Commission. This last consultation was launched on 27 June 2002 and was aimed at considering the scope for increasing the level of competition for running the Lottery (in part the result of the NAO report on the Lottery licence competition), streamlining the system of both licensing and regulation with an eye to consistency between plans for the regulation of other kinds of gambling and that applying to the National Lottery.
37. The Government has, over the last year, implemented changes to the duty regimes for both fixed odd and pool betting. It has also announced recently that the replacement of the bingo stakes tax with a gross profits tax on bingo companies will be considered. The Government told us that: "Treasury and Customs will be working closely with DCMS to review the likely impact of the Safe Bet changes on each affected sector and considering whether and how the tax system should be adjusted." With regard to the possibility of linking taxation of resort casinos directly to spending in the local area, the Government stated that all taxes are kept under review but that there were "no plans to hypothecate the tax raised in a particular geographical area to public expenditure in that area."
25 Ev 107 (Vol III) Back
26 Ev 106 (Vol III) Back
27 Ev 107 (Vol III) Back