Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport Memoranda


Memorandum submitted by the Good Gambling Guide

  I am Richard Whitehouse, editor of the Good Gambling Guide. We promote sensible gambling as entertainment. I have been a professional in the gambling business for the last 12 years in the UK.

  The White paper addressed many industry concerns with respect to more freedom of their business. Principally this affects the casino trade and I will raise points of concern over the proposals in the Review and White Paper.

  1.  Whilst it appears correct that casinos and all gambling should be treated as a normal business with freedom to market the product, likewise customer protection should match this. I see serious flaws in the thinking that gambling with credit cards can produce anything but problems for the individual and the community at large. If someone wishes to gamble then access to their current account is already available and should always be the limiting factor to their upper spend limit. People who wish to gamble large amounts can always arrange in advance for liquid funds to be available. This seems to be an ideal area for government restraint in the interest of the individual and community.

  2.  There appears to be a move towards the serving or drinking of alcohol at the gaming tables. On quick inspection the observer can compare our casinos with Las Vegas or other countries like Spain. However, the culture in the UK is markedly different from the continent, where alcohol is treated in a sensible fashion. In Vegas the very heavy presence of security guards with guns makes unruly behaviour most unlikely. Not so here. The casino companies may wish to turn their casinos into nightclubs with gaming tables to maximise profit but this can only lead to further lowering of standards which leads on to point 3.

  3.  The general lowering of standards in public life has been extended to casinos. Drug abuse and internal fraud now exists in the majority of casinos today in the UK. The addition of alcohol will likely improve the odds of criminal infiltration into this vulnerable business, one that can be said to be a sitting duck for drug abuse blackmail and wholesale fraud. I recommend improving the licensing of dealers and better policing of casinos to bring them back from their serious decline.

  4.  To increase customer protection we advocate simple additions to the government of casinos. Firstly a move for all casinos to employ a compliance officer as firms in the city are required to do. Their role will be to ensure that customers who are clearly problem gamblers get the most immediate help instead of encouragement to gamble more, as is now. They will also ensure the following rule is adhered to.

  I strongly recommend the clear posting of odds and percentage disadvantage on all table games and machines that is clearly understandable. This should be done via a reputable university. This will reduce the problems of certifying new games with much larger "house advantage". People will be able to choose for themselves from the available products, just as they can in any other business or market.

3 May 2002

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