Memorandum by the Lord Allen of Abbeydale
The Committee have asked for evidence, and as
I am referred to in the Home Office memorandum, I thought I should
send in a note elaborating a little the views briefly ascribed
to me there.
The Betting and Gaming Act, 1960, which legalised
casinos for the first time, provided for not more than two gaming
machines, with a stake not to exceed sixpence. This provision
was re-enacted in the Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Act, 1963.
The failure of the casinos provisions, notably the lack of powers
of enforcement, led to a great upsurge of criminal activities,
including protection rackets in regard to the hundreds of casinos
which sprang up. I was Permanent Under Secretary of State at the
Home Office when we tried to restore order in the Gaming Act,
1968. Gaming on licensed or registered premises was dealt with
in Part II of the Act, and gaming by machines was dealt with separately
in Part III. We decided to repeat in that part of the Act the
Facility of not more than two jackpot machines, with a stake of
not more than one shilling, with power to increase. Casinos in
this context were treated in the same way as registered clubs
and miners' welfare institutes. I have a pretty clear recollection
that we thought that, now there was to be a proper machinery of
enforcement, it was reasonable to continue to make a modes provision
of some alternative occupation for those who for some reason did
not want to go in for hard gaming at the tables.
Against this background, I have always hesitated
a bit over the suggestion that it is perfectly all right, for
casinos, to blur the distinction between Part II and Part III
of the Act and greatly to extend the use of these machines because
they are in a hard gaming ambience. It can obviously be argued
that the principle has already been conceded by the decision to
increase the number from two to six and now it is just another
four. But the Home Office memorandum makes it clear that this
is not the end. It is just one more step; and although further
moves will be taken with cautions, there is a clear prospect of
allowing "very large numbers of machines". A Home Office
consultative paper in August 1998 discussed a figure of twenty,
and saw no objection in principle to casinos having the same type
of slot machines as was common in other countries - including,
presumably, Las Vagas, where as I recall as much money is taken
from machines as from the tables.
It may well be, as the Home Office memorandum
suggests, that attitudes towards machines have changed since the
1960s and that machine gaming is now regarded as a mainstream
activity within gambling. But I wonder if the powers of the 1994
Act are so extensive as to permit the introduction by the back
door, as it were, of what would in effect become a new form of
hard gaming in a way which is so remote from the plain intentions
of the 1968 Act; and whether this might be an occasion for a reminder
that there are limits to what can be done in this context by way
11 May 1999
Memorandum from GAMCARE - National Association
for Gambling Care Educational Resources and Training
Having read the "Draft Statutory Instruments"
and "Explanatory Memorandum" we wish to make a further
representation in respect of postal applications for membership
and age restrictions.
GamCare does not consider signing a declaration on
the application form that the applicant is over 18 is a sufficient
Whilst casinos generally exclude under 18's, having
to apply in person has provided an opportunity for a visual judgement
of age to be made. Despite this check the GamCare Helpline in
its first year of operation recorded six cases (from four callers)
of under 18's reporting a problem with casino gambling. One of
these was aged sixteen and three aged seventeen. The total number
of calls relating to casino gambling was one hundred and fifty
(11 per cent of the total of problem calls). Whilst this is a
small number it means that 4 per cent. of calls regarding a problem
with casino gambling were underage. What we do not know is how
many social gamblers who visit casinos are under eighteen. In
view of the high-payout and increased number of casino jackpot
machines it is likely that this form of gambling will become increasingly
attractive to young people. Unless sufficient safeguards are introduced
it is, in our opinion, very likely that the number of underage
casino gamblers will increase - and increase further once limited
payout machines are allowed.
It therefore appears to GamCare that it would be
sensible to build in a safeguard to minimise the possibility of
under 18's gaining entry to casinos. This could be achieved by
asking the applicant to state their age on the application form.
The form would also carry a note that proof of age might be required.
Then on their first visit all applicants with a stated age close
to 18 could be asked for verification. This would eliminate annoyance
to old customers whilst building in a protection for the casino
as well as a regulatory safeguard.
We are not seeking to appear before the deregulation
committee on this issue, but would willingly do so should it be
27 April 1999
Letter and memorandum from London Clubs
The climate which prevailed in the late sixties and
early seventies within the British gaming industry is no more.
The 1968 Act has done its job. The involvement in the industry
of publicly quoted companies and the attendant additional regulation
and supervision that comes with that status have also significantly
contributed to probity. The achievements of the British casino
gaming industry are now held out by the Gaming Board itself as
a model to new jurisdictions, and we now properly and proudly
draw attention to the integrity of the current industry and the
absence of crime and criminal involvement.
Since 1968 there has also been a sea change in the
perceptions of the role of government in the broader area of regulation
and control. The change from the all pervasive 'nanny state' to
an more open and plural society offering wider personal freedoms
and extensive self determination is taking place. Across a wide
spectrum of public activity there is far greater maturity, personal
responsibility and expectation of choice.
The growth in international travel has been exponential
in the last thirty years and changes domestically, including the
advent of the extensively advertised National Lottery, have exposed
a huge cross section of British society to gambling in a huge
number of forms. As, quite literally, another dimension in communication
and leisure activity opens through the Internet, that awareness
will grow still greater.
The 1968 act now also threatens to isolate the industry,
as the world banking system - which is at the cutting edge of
information technology - moves rapidly to a 'cheque free' regime.
We believe that gaming legislation will find itself increasingly
out of step with other finance legislation and common commercial
The almost total exclusion by the Act of casino gaming
from portrayal as a normal and legitimate leisure activity stigmatises
and reduces the public perception of the industry to a seedy and
mysterious back street business to be found among criminals and
drug dealers. Indeed it is easier to find a prostitute in the
telephone book than it is a casino! This is grossly unfair to
an industry which is alone in knowing, through the rigorous
processes of licensing and regulation, that its employees are
honest and free of criminal convictions: that they are 'fit and
proper' individuals. It is also unfair to the thousands of honest
people who enjoy casino gaming.
The time is long overdue to fully remove the shroud
of secrecy that distorts the reality of the British gaming industry
and let the public make informed choices about casino gaming as
they do with every other aspect of social activity, even those
which involve risk. We have responded in detail to the proposal
in respect of advertising, but they are far from liberal and at
their best they seem to let the industry 'out on licence'.
Whilst all forms of gambling require supervision,
taken together, these four factors: the inherent integrity of
the new industry, the change in the role of government, the greater
sophistication of the public and the technology driven changes
to the world banking systems, there is absolutely no evidence
whatsoever that the adult population any longer needs or require
the levels of so called 'protection' afforded to them by the 1968
Act or that the Act is a suitable vehicle for the regulation of
gaming in a global market place in the 21st century.
London as a Special Case
As London operators we ask the government to consider
whether London should be treated differently from the rest of
the country. The deregulation document makes reference to the
differences between the UK casino scene and foreign 'resort' casinos
It does not, however, go on to acknowledge that London is among
the greatest tourist resorts in the world.
Many London casinos already cater extensively for
international tourism. Often visitors, particularly business visitors,
only stay in the capital for a very brief period and are denied
a leisure facility available to them elsewhere in the world by
a regulation which arguably was not ever directed towards their
protection in the first place. As a transient population their
exposure to the dangers of prolonged problem gambling - at least
as far as London is concerned - is limited to the duration of
Greater discretion could be given to local magistrates
to allow immediate membership to casinos by overseas residents
on production of a passport and proof of extra-UK residency.
London Clubs International plc warmly welcomes the
deregulation proposals. Following the recent very substantial
tax increases and with absolutely no opportunity to pass on costs,
the gaming industry now faces a very difficult time. As a labour
intensive business offering employment and training to the young
and unskilled, a reduction in the size of the industry would have
a significant impact on job opportunities in the leisure sector.
As it now appears there is little or no realistic chance of broader
reform in the immediate parliamentary calendar we believe it to
be vital that every effort be made to be generous towards the
industry in the deregulation process.
Whilst we have responded in detail to the points
raised in the consultation paper, we urge that nothing in our
response to the paper, or to the more general issues which we
raise in this covering letter, should in any way be seen as an
invitation to government for more or wider consultation: change
is urgently needed and further delay will be harmful to the industry.
That said we take this opportunity to express an operator's view,
on a wider and more strategic basis, of the need for fundamental
changes to the law.
Finally, we note in particular the comment at para
7.11 relating to the issue of 'resource considerations' for
the Gaming Board acting as a constraint on deregulation, in particular
in relation to slot machine. The British casino industry is now
(on the governments own estimates) contributing an additional
£25 million per year through the increased Gaming Duty to
the exchequer and resources for supervision cannot any longer
possibly be a legitimate excuse for further impediments to progress.
Roy C Ramm
Compliance & Security Director
Response to the Government's proposal
for a Deregulation Order on Casino membership, advertising and
1 Postal Applications
1.1 We very much welcome the proposal to remove
the requirement that application must be made , '..or notice
given, in person on the premises.'
1.1 We note the comments by the Gaming Board
that they would accept 'any method of delivering the an application,
including post and fax, on condition that the application is made
in a standard form with a signature.'
1.2 Accepting any method of application is a
step forward and we accept that the signature gives some degree
of comfort that an application has been made by the person sending
it, but we submit that it is it stretching the perceived safety
net of protection too far to suggest that signature is any more
than an indication of identity or intention (to game) and
its absence should not defacto invalidate an application.
1.3 Failure to specifically include e-mail applications,
presumably because few will have a signature, is a disappointment
and does not recognise the increasing use of electronic mail in
commercial and private life. Many businesses and individuals now
rely on electronic mail for the bulk of their communication needs.
The fact that hand written signatures are not evident on most
documents sent by e-mail (although some do contain scanned signatures)
is not a bar to their use in countless commercial applications
and should be considered precedent for greater relaxation of the
need for signature.
1.4 The argument that the Gaming Board evinces
that signatures provide protection from agents or touts completing
applications, perhaps without the knowledge or consent of the
applicant, should not in our view be persuasive to government.
We acknowledge that allowing e-mail applications does leave the
door open for agents to submit applications on behalf of players,
but even if an agent did complete an application that in itself
is not necessarily reprehensible, and agents are hardly likely
to submit an application for someone who has not expressed a wish
to visit a particular casino. As 'junkets' are no longer fundamentally
objectionable (4.9) and that the conduct of agents would fall
on casino operators themselves (4.13), we suggest that there could
be sufficient checks and balances built into the process for the
GB also to be satisfied with the integrity of e-mail applications.
1.5 The Deregulation document indicates (4.5)
that operators would have to verify the identity of postal or
fax applicants on their first visit to the casino and that an
amendment would be made to the Code of Practise on Money Laundering.
By requiring, as at present, any applicant to produce identification
and to conform that the application sent was sent by them or with
their direct consent, reception personal could be reassured that
the person arriving at the casino was identical to the applicant.
We strongly suggest that a very simple, but statutory question
to any postal, fax or e-mail applicant, on a first visit to a
casino, along the lines of , "Is this your application
and do you wish to proceed with membership?" would overcome
any possibility that a person was being improperly enticed into
1.6 Finally we note the comments (4.11) in relation
to the code forming 'the basis of arrangements' in relation
to junkets. We want to be clear that, as in the past, the Gaming
Board will be willing to reconsider the content of the various
codes at the request of operators to address issues such as junkets
without need for further deregulation or legislation. (Below because
of the content of 6.14, further comment is made in relation to
the status of the various codes)
2 Group membership
2.1 We welcome this proposal. We suggest the
following procedure should apply to help groups maintain their
own customer bases, whilst allowing the membership role of a particular
club to be purchased or sold with the premises, without either
exposing the entire group membership to a purchaser, or creating
a need for fresh applications for membership of a club by existing
members simply because ownership of the particular premises has
2.2 Where a member of a club in a group wants
to enter another club in the same group they should be required
to apply for membership of the second club and should immediately
become a provisional member, ie without waiting 24 hours
and should be allowed access to the premises to game with all
the rights and privileges of full membership.
2.3 A further benefit of this approach is that
where a member ship needs to be withdrawn from one club for any
reason, the memberships of other clubs in the group are not automatically
prejudiced because the decision to withdraw membership is made
by a specific club membership committee.
3.1 Once again we broadly welcome the proposal.
We hope that government would rely on a clear statement of principle
rather than be minutely prescriptive and then rely on the work
of other regulatory bodies, such as the Advertising Standards
Authority to ensure compliance.
3.2 There are however, two areas in need of clarification
for us. The location of advertisements in publications should
not, in our view, be restricted to 'classified sections'. This
is to a large extent an outmoded concept in publishing and classified
columns are no longer found in all publications. In other publications,
such as tourist guides, the entire publication or the great majority
of it is advertising or 'advertorial' (sic). It may be more appropriate
to indicate where the advertisements should not be found e.g.,
in children's sections than to specify where they can be.
3.3 If the government feels it necessary to be
restrictive on size, then an unambiguous and universally understood
measure such as the International Metric standard, of say A5,
should be stated.
3.4 Para 6.4: the proposal includes 'how
to apply for membership' but it is unclear whether a membership
application form could legitimately form part of the advertisement.
We would argue strongly that the relaxation of the rules on postal
applications should allow an advertisement to carry an appropriate
membership application form. Membership applications will be an
integral part of advertisements published outside the UK and it
seems entirely inconsistent not to allow the publication of forms
within the UK. It seems unfair and somewhat odd to us that someone
planning a weekend break in the capital could apply for membership
by post from an ad., in say, Paris Mach but not from an ad. the
3.5 Para 6.14: the proposal intimates
that a 'GB Code of Practice' would be drawn up to guide operators.
Is the absence of the BCA deliberate in this title? Is this a
code which the Gaming Board solely will define or will the usual
consultation process and 'joint ownership' as with the Gaming
Board and British Casino Association joint guidelines apply.
3.6 The restriction on television and radio advertising
is unclear as to whether 'in house' advertising on closed circuit
hotel systems is permissible.
3.7 Of particular concern is the lack of clarity
over the use of the Internet for advertising. The Internet should
not in our view be regarded as a natural casualty of the proposed
continuing general restriction on radio and television advertising
(6.4). Advertising on the net is passive and requires a user to
actively seek out the web site, it is not in any sense intrusive
as radio or television may be argued to be. The inclusion of the
Internet in the deregulation order would also make the use of
e-mailed application forms - which would form part of a clubs
web site - a simple matter.
3.8 To restrict operators in the UK from using
the Internet is also unrealistic as far as international operators
is concerned. We, as such an operator, can lawfully advertise
our overseas operations via the net from the UK. This is a facility
we intend to extensively use with the advent of the Alladin project
in the USA, Lucayan in the Bahamas and our various South African
projects and with any other international project. We could also,
we are advised, lawfully launch UK advertising from an offshore
site which would be, to all intents and purposes, indistinguishable
from our on-shore advertising for off-shore operations!
3.9 We have so far chosen not to pursue the 'off-shore'
options open to us in the hope that UK regulators would accept
that the passive nature of Internet advertising and the whole
new dimension of electronic addresses for commerce was deserving
of a coherent approach. This is a nonsensical situation which
4 Slot Machines
4.1 Para 7.11: We welcome the relaxation
as proposed, but strongly urge that government move quickly to
allowing the introduction of at least twenty machines and a proper
casino slot machine regime.
4.2 We are concerned that the deregulation does
not address the need for payments to be made other than from the
machine. Massive coin payments restrict the development of machines,
inconvenience the player and causes significant management and
administration problems. We would strongly urge that the order
makes provision for jackpot payments to be made wholly or in part
through the cash desk and includes the ability to pay jackpot
winners by cheque.
4.3 In our view. a move to a machine regime which
accords more closely with standards in other jurisdictions would
mean the machines then available to operators would also allow
for features such as imbedded bill acceptors, credit play on winnings
and monetary exchange. At the same time they would provide regulators
with more and better information.