Examination of Witnesses (Questions 300-310)
MR PETER DEAN, MR TOM KAVANAGH AND MR GRAHAM WHITE
TUESDAY 2 JULY 2002
300. I will accept "likelihood". I say "high probability". You say "likelihood" and I say "high probability". Who should pay for that?
(Mr Dean) The industry should bear certainly the major burden of that and that is what is proposed under the Government's policy statement.
301. What sort of figure are you looking at?
(Mr Dean) The Board has no particular figure in mind. The Budd report recommended a figure of £3 million a year for the Gambling Trust and that seems a very fair figure.
302. We cannot actually judge whether it is fair because we do not have enough research.
(Mr Dean) One has to start somewhere and one of the things that the Gambling Trust will do of course is carry out this
303. Who should pay for the policing of all these things because we are all agreed on that policing? I do not mean the police, it might be local authorities. Who should pay for it? The fees from licences are minute; they really are tiny. They cost the local authorities more to process them than they actually get by way of fee, considerably more. Is this right and proper? Who should be paying and what sort of proportions do you think they should be paying? Should it actually be that you have an idea of how many officers you need, reasonably need, you can never have enough, but reasonable to give a reasonable chance of finding the baddies in all of this? Should licences be set at a figure which makes a hefty contribution to that and, if so, what sort of figure are we looking at?
(Mr Dean) Well, in principle the industry should pay for the regulation, as indeed it does at the moment, and that burden must be shared. How it is shared is obviously a matter which will need to be gone into very carefully.
304. Did you not just say two things there? You said that the industry should pay and then you said that it should be shared.
(Mr Dean) Among the industry players.
305. And do you think it would mean a significant hike in licences?
(Mr Dean) I do not know or no, I would not necessarily think that it would. There are estimates in the Budd report about the cost and indeed the Government paper about the cost of the Gambling Commission. It will cost a good deal more than the Gaming Board currently costs, but it will have a much enlarged remit and there will be more gambling operators contributing to it and it will be an expanded operation, so I myself would not believe that the burden on the industry should necessarily be significantly greater than it is at the moment.
306. The figures I have vaguely seen mean that to have enough officers to go round and look at these things, I would suggest that licences will have to cost a lot more, which might actually wipe out the small ones, or a lot of them.
(Mr Kavanagh) The fees that the Gaming Board and the licensing justices set at the moment are very broadly set to recover costs. I do believe there is a separate problem about the particular sort of fees that you are talking about which local authorities set which are currently very much lower, but they are a different set of licence fees.
307. I do not know whether the Gaming Board is responsible for the TV and radio gambling. I am talking about the ones where they say, "Who has a Mohican-type haircut?", and it might be a popstar or whatever, and people would phone in and spend 60 pence each. Should that not be part of your remit?
(Mr Dean) The issue of prize competitions is something on which the Government is going out to consultation right now and that is left over from the Budd report. The Budd report made certain recommendations in that regard and the Government wanted a further look at it and that is being consulted on right now.
(Mr Kavanagh) I think we made clear in our evidence that we think a lot of these competitions are currently illegal lotteries. A lot of them are fairly harmless and in that sense could be legitimised, but there are categories of them which are far from harmless which we think nee d to brought under better control than they are at the moment.
308. It is transparency, is it not? On transparency, you were answering a few minutes ago, saying that there has been a report put out which helps people understand the odds on various games in the casino. Do you think it would be a good thing if companies that were involved in gambling, making profits from gambling had to disclose a great deal of detail in their accounts and full detail because as they are not actually manufacturing and producing anything, and you have heard me say that I am not against gambling, in fact I think it is wonderful thing if people do it and I want them to have the complete opportunity to do it as much as they would like as it pays the tax, but should not the companies who make profits out of this disclose everything? I mean not just the profit they make out of sales of food and drink, but also exactly how much they make from the gambling. I do not think commercial companies should have to disclose, for commercial reasons, how much they pay in rent, salaries and the rest of it, but do you not think that companies that depend completely on gambling for their income should disclose everything openly so that when people are in a casino, they can see that this company last year made X amount from this, so the accounts are completely transparent?
(Mr Dean) I have to say I am not quite sure as to what level of detail company accounts go right now, but company accounts are available.
309. But I am talking especially about gambling. I think we all understand how much disclosure is necessary in company law, but I am not talking about that. I am talking about particularly the type of companies which depend on gambling for their income. That is a different thing. I am talking about transparency. Do you not think that would help gamblers to understand exactly what they do?
(Mr Dean) To be particularly blunt, I do not think it would. I do not think gamblers care how much money the operators of the premises where they gamble make. I think they will care to a certain extent about the particular odds that they get, although I think that is only to a limited extent too. I rather doubt that they will care about the profitability of the enterprises, but it is a matter of public record anyway. A gambling company has to disclose its accounts publicly, so anybody can look and it is not a secret, but I doubt whether many gamblers would bother.
310. Do you not agree with me that the rights should be there for people to see exactly what the profit is? I do not want to spend too much time on this, Chairman.
(Mr Dean) I would need to be persuaded that the public do not have adequate rights actually now to get whatever information they really legitimately should have.
Alan Keen: Well, I have listened to the media over the last few days and perhaps you would agree with me that companies should disclose in their company accounts exactly what has happened both in this country and in the United States.
Chairman: Well, thank you, gentlemen, very much indeed. We are most grateful to you.