Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport Seventh Report



VIII SUMMARY

  1. We set out below a list of the other key conclusions and recommendations appearing in the main body of this Report.
      • We accept that the current target of 3 million towards funding by the Industry Gambling Trust may be appropriate for the current regulatory system, but recommend that the Commission requests the Trust to include, as part of its future research, consideration of the viability of the current calculation of 10 per problem gambler as the amount needed to meet the social costs of gambling post deregulation. (Paragraph 45)
      • Whilst the Committee applauds the industry's initiative in setting up the Trust it is concerned that the funding stream to organisations such as GamCare and Gordon House is not thus far secure. The Trust budget figure of 0.8 million falls well short of that target and not enough appears to have been committed to tackle even the existing needs. The Committee believes that the industry as a whole should recognise that it must provide sufficient funds now as a commitment that recognises future change in legislation. (Paragraph 46)
      • The Committee agree with the Government that the 2000 Gambling Prevalence Survey should be the benchmark for future surveys to be made by the Commission or Trust, at regular intervals, of the general prevalence of gambling in Great Britain, its social and individual impact, and in particular, the incidence of problem gambling in Great Britain. We expect the Trust to make the necessary appointment of independent trustees in the immediate future. (Paragraph 48)
      • We prefer the simple prescription of "polluter pays", believe it would be unhealthy for organisations like GamCare and Gordon House to depend on the generosity of the industry; and recommend that the Government impose a statutory levy to ensure that research is adequately funded and organisations who support problem gamblers directly receive the necessary funding for their work. (Paragraph 51)
      • If the Government decides against a statutory levy, we recommend that contributions to the Trust be part of the fit and proper test for licensing, in order to ensure that each sector of the industry contributes fairly to the Trust, and that unseemly conflict within the industry is avoided should it become difficult for the Trust to raise the 3 million voluntarily. (Paragraph 52)
      • The Committee considers that by both contributing funds and sharing best practice with the Industry Trust, Camelot will provide valuable input into the work of the Trust, which at the moment seems to be concentrating on the treatment of problem gambling. We consider that it is vital that research into problem gambling should include the assessment of preventative measures in order to produce greater understanding of the nature of problem gambling. We understand that it is not in the interests of the gambling industry to seek to prevent gambling, but it befits the current worldwide reputation of the UK gambling industry for quality and integrity, and the designation of gambling as a respectable leisure activity, to ensure that we do not see a substantial increase in problem gamblers. It is very much in the interests of the gambling industry to have a reputation for fair and square dealing and socially responsible behaviour. We believe that this reputation, as much as any glitzy advertising campaign, could contribute to the successful development of gambling as a mainstream leisure activity in which people felt secure to indulge. (Paragraph 55)
      • We agree with the Review Body's recommendations— on gambling as a health problem —and consider that it will become necessary for the Government to undertake research to ensure joined up policy between the Departments of Health and Culture, Media and Sport. Assessment of the social impact of the deregulation of gambling, and guidance to local authorities on the services they may need to develop, will need to be made by the Government in consultation with the Gambling Commission. (Paragraph 56)
      • Ultimately, the responsibility for ensuring that there is adequate research into the social dimension of gambling behaviour lies with the Government. The Committee agrees with Government's decision to give the new Gambling Commission a role in ensuring that operators adhere to a code of social responsibility, and we note that this will include the monitoring of the social impact of the increased access to gambling products. This will require research funding met by Government or by the Industry Trust. If it is to be the former then this presumably will fall within the setting of licence fees. If it is the latter then the Committee is concerned this could lead to a failure by the Commission to meet the obligation. Either way, the Committee recommends that Government makes it clear how it intends that the Commission should meet this commitment. It would be very unfortunate if the Government was, for a second time, to fail to grasp the opportunity to establish the conditions for reliable national research whose results can be used to inform future policy. We suggest that the Government be prepared to invest in both the research and treatment of problem gambling, through the NHS nationwide, independently of the Industry Trust. (Paragraph 57)
      • The Gaming Board has already modified its advice to Liquor Licensing Justices to remove its general objection to the serving of alcohol on the gaming floor and so we recommend that both the Board and the future Gambling Commission monitor the effect of this change, with the help of the industry to ensure that the change is not to the detriment of the public. (Paragraph 62)
      • We recommend that the Government reconsider the Gambling Review recommendation for a minimum floor size of 2,000 square feet in consultation with the Gaming Board and the industry, and that whatever level of floor size is set is then subject to regular review by the Gambling Commission, when this body is established, to assess how this affects the growth of the industry (paragraph 65 (a))
      • We recommend that the Gambling Commission and Government ensure that the licensing system remains transparent by providing clear guidance to local authorities. This may involve a re-assessment of planning guidance to ensure that local opinion, if not involved in the licensing process, has a voice at some stage during a casino's application. We would also recommend the Gambling Commission allowing the granting of a licence to be subject to planning permission, should a local authority have particular environmental concerns or should local objections be raised. (Paragraph 66)
      • We recommend that local authorities must ensure that their staff are appropriately trained before the licensing function is transferred, and that the Gaming Board and new Gambling Commission should monitor and assess how the licensing guidelines and criteria are being implemented. We would expect to see local authorities employ officers with a particular expertise in gambling as well as the 'multi-skilled' inspectors described by the Minister for Sport. (Paragraph 67)
      • We recommend that the Government should help local authorities to fund the setting up of the licensing system, particularly in the training of staff on their new responsibilities. The Gaming Board and the new Gambling Commission and existing licensing justices should be included when discussing the nature of training and preparation necessary. (Paragraph 68)
      • We consider that the implications of gambling deregulation on local social services and health authorities ought to be considered when the Government decides how licence fees will be set. We further believe that the setting of the licence fees should be such as not to leave local authorities in deficit in respect of the impact of their new responsibilities. We recommend that local authorities should be able to set the levels of licence fees and that the revenue generated should be ring-fenced for costs associated with gambling. All of these cost issues should be reassessed after two years in the light of experience. (Paragraph 71)
      • We agree with the Government that pilot status should not be given to a particular area— for the development of resort casinos. We consider that it will be for local authorities to develop the most beneficial strategy for licensing and approving planning for resort casinos, and to align, as the Local Government Association suggests, new gambling facilities with other business, cultural or social housing developments so that resort casinos contribute to the area in which they are built. (Paragraph 73)
      • We recommend that the Government considers the experience of other jurisdictions when determining the proper rate of duty for casinos. (Paragraph 74)
      •  We recommend that the Government endeavours to strike a balance between tables and machines that will not lead simply to casinos increasing the number of tables to accommodate more machines. (Paragraph 78).
      • The Gambling Review decided that, aside from the economic arguments put forward by the operators and trade associations, there was insufficient evidence on children's gambling to justify a complete ban, and, subject to the Industry Trust producing more independent research, we agree. (Paragraph 88)
      • We encourage the Government to reconsider its rejection of the Review Body's clear recommendation about this aspect of 'ambient gambling'. If the Government maintains its view, to allow AWPs in outlets such as fish and chip shops, it must ensure that local authorities are able to fund improved monitoring of these premises. (Paragraph 89).
      • We commend the Government for preventing children in future from playing on gaming machines generally and for the freeze on the amounts of stake and prize; but in order to avoid the accusation of bowing to industry pressure over AWP machines, the Government must ensure that adequate research is undertaken to monitor the effect of allowing children to gamble on low stake machines when no other jurisdiction in the world does so. (Paragraph 90)
      • We therefore agree with the Gambling Review Body's recommendation "that further research should be commissioned to examine the impact of machines gaming by children and that the Government should formally review the position in five years time to determine whether any such gaming by under 18s should continue to be permitted, or whether Great Britain should come into line with other jurisdictions and ban it". The Gambling Commission should consider ways in which this research can include children's use of AWP in non-gambling premises, to ensure that the Government can make a well-informed decision on the matter. In the meantime, AWPs in non-gambling premises are likely to provide 'an unintentional and inadvertent introduction to gambling for children'. (Paragraph 91)
      • The Committee recommends that the new Gambling Commission ensure that the Industry Charitable Trust consider funding education programmes for schools, youth clubs and other groups to ensure that both parents and children understand the odds, are aware of the dangers of losing control and, as Mr Paul Bellringer of GamCare said, are able to regard gambling as a fun activity they can enjoy and walk away from. (Paragraph 92)
      • As the Government intends to propose separate legislation on liquor and public entertainment licensing which will make it easier for parents to bring children into pubs, it is essential that the Gambling Commission and the industry are able to agree on a workable Code of Practice. (Paragraph 94)
      • The Committee agrees that a code of practice concerning gaming machines should be decided by the Gaming Board or shadow Gambling Commission as soon as possible. We consider that:

  • machines should be sited in the bar area, within sight of the bar staff;

  • where appropriate, and without compromising the appearance of the premises, a line should be drawn on the carpet (as they have in Las Vegas casinos) to help staff distinguish between where children are and are not allowed;

  • signage should be visible and legible from a reasonable distance to allow parents to recognise the adult gaming machine immediately;

  • the machines themselves should be clearly labelled 'for over 18s only';

  • the gaming industry could also take this opportunity to ensure that details of the GamCare helpline, or contact numbers for GamAnon, can be found near to or on machines. (Paragraph 95)

      • The Committee urges local authorities to ensure that the amusement arcades that they license are, as BACTA assured the Committee, indeed safe for children. (Paragraph 96)
      • Whilst we agree with the Gambling Review and the Government that local authorities are best placed to make local licensing decisions, as previously stated with regard to casinos, we believe that the new Gambling Commission should ensure that local authorities are aware of the knowledge and expertise necessary for their staff to administer the new licensing system fairly and with integrity. This recommendation clearly has implications for the cost to local authorities of the licensing system and confirms our recommendation in paragraph 71 that local authorities should be empowered to set licence fees at a level which covers their costs. The Government should ensure that the Gambling Commission provides regular assessment of the licensing system to allow for periodical readjustment of licence fees. In the case of existing gaming machines, which have already been approved by licensing justices, we consider that the Government ought to give further thought to the allowing of 'grandfather rights' for the first few years of the new licensing to avoid undue pressure on local authorities who will already be taking on a significant new role. (Paragraph 100)
      • We consider that the Government was right to increase prize levels for societies' lotteries, particularly as evidence to the Committee suggested, that there are charities supported by these smaller lotteries which have never received a penny from the National Lottery Fund. (Paragraph 102)
      • We consider that the deregulation of Bingo is unlikely to inflict a significant negative impact upon the National Lottery. However, we are minded to return to the subject of Bingo in a future inquiry to consider concerns raised by the Bingo Association on the permitting of Bingo in casinos. (Paragraph 103)
      • We consider, at this stage, that there is an argument for including the National Lottery under the remit of the Gambling Commission. It might be possible to transfer experienced Lottery Commission staff to the new Gambling Commission to ensure that there is no conflict of interest between maximising the returns to Good Causes and the interests of the rest of the commercial industry. As there would be serious cost and resource implications for the Gambling Commission we will reserve judgment on this matter until the Government has finished its consultation with all interested parties. (Paragraph 108)

 


 
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