Select Committee on Deregulation and Regulatory Reform Fifth Report




9. On 28th January 2002 the Government laid before Parliament the draft Deregulation (Bingo and Other Gaming) Order 2002, together with a statement by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.[12] Our predecessor Deregulation Committee has reported on the Government's proposal for this draft Order, which would make three separate changes to the law regulating bingo, namely:

  (i)  to remove the requirement for licensed bingo clubs to notify changes to their charges at least 14 days in advance and for casinos to do the same in respect of card­room charges;

  (ii)  to remove the prohibition on licensed bingo clubs offering lower­value 'amusements with prizes' (AWP) gaming machines as well as jackpot machines; and

  (iii)  to allow for more than one national, one regional, and one house prize in multiple bingo games.[13]

10. Our predecessors were content that the first and third of these changes should proceed. They did not, however, believe that it could be demonstrated that no necessary protection for vulnerable groups would be removed by the second aspect of the proposal, especially bearing in mind the limited nature of the consultation exercise which preceded the laying of the proposal. They therefore recommended that the proposal be amended by the deletion of the second proposed change before a draft Order was laid before the House.

11. Following publication of the Committee's Report, the Department conducted a further consultation exercise in respect of this aspect of the proposal. It did so in the context of a wider consultation on the report of the independent review of the controls on gambling in Great Britain, chaired by Sir Alan Budd (the Gambling Review Body), but drew specific attention to the Committee's comments on this proposal. Consultees included representatives of a number of organisations specifically interested in the welfare of those vulnerable groups about whom the Committee had expressed concern and who had been excluded from the original consultation exercise. None offered any objection to the proposal; indeed, the only comment came from the organisation GamCare, which supported it.[14] No other representations appear to have been made during the period for Parliamentary consideration of the proposal.

12. We welcome the fact that the Department has carried out this further consultation. In the light of the fact that, having been specifically consulted on the point, no organisation concerned with the protection of vulnerable groups sees any reason to object to the proposal, we are now satisfied that the draft Order meets the criteria against which we are required to judge it, and we recommend unanimously that it be approved.

13. Finally, however, we also wish to endorse our predecessors' comments regarding the undesirability of proceeding with further reforms to the law relating to betting and gaming.[15] As the Lords Committee remarked in their report on this proposal, the law on gaming is a mess;[16] and, as the Government admitted, this change adds a further layer of complexity to the statute book (albeit that the actual effect of the law may be no more difficult to follow). We welcome the Government's assurances, in the explanatory statement accompanying this draft Order, that the Order would have no consequences for the controls which might apply in any other premises, nor for Parliament's freedom to accept or reject any of the other recommendations in the Gambling Review report.[17] Nevertheless, as with the law relating to licensing, to which we refer elsewhere in this Report, repeated piecemeal amendment of the law relating to gambling has been an unwelcome feature of the deregulation procedure. Now that the report of the Gambling Review Body has been published, we look forward to the early introduction of a Bill which will obviate the need for any further such amendment. Regulatory Reform Orders should be used to simplify and ease comprehension of the law, not to add a layer of complexity.

12   Copies are available to Members from the Vote Office and to members of the public from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. It is also available on the Cabinet Office website Back

13   Fourth Report, op cit, paras 43-67Back

14   Explanatory statement, para 35. Back

15   Fourth Report, paras 46-51. Back

16   Twenty-Fourth Report of the Delegated Powers and Deregulation Committee, Session 2000-01. Back

17   Explanatory Statement, para 29. Back

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