- The whole gambling industry has to some extent welcomed the work of the Gambling Review and the Government's proposals in A safe bet for success. The current legislative and regulatory framework has worked well for over 30 years. The low level of criminal activity and problem gambling compared to other jurisdictions is evidence of this. The industry can be praised for working diligently within the rules whilst seeking to expand its legitimate place within the leisure industry. Although the Government did not act upon previous recommendations from the Rothschild Commission, it has at last reacted to the change in both social perceptions of gambling and the progress of technology which required changes in legislation. Whilst the majority of the nation may choose not to participate in the deregulated industry, those who do will do so under the watchful eye of a more powerful regulator.
- The Committee considers that the Gambling Review Body undertook extensive inquiries into the British gambling industry, and that the Government has, with its consultation, allowed the industry to respond to recommendations which were found unacceptable. We are not convinced that deregulation will create a huge new interest in gambling as a leisure industry, based on current customer demand, but have no doubt that the Government proposals will create opportunities, particularly for casinos, to modernise existing gambling products to bring the UK industry in line with other jurisdictions. We consider that the Government should endeavour to bring about primary legislation to deregulate the industry no later than the 2003/2004 session.
- The current British regulatory system is considered to be one of the most best-respected and more reputable systems worldwide, and we are reassured that the Gaming Board welcomes the Government's proposals as the way to improve current standards and working practices. We look forward to monitoring the work of the Gambling Commission, particularly in its role of ensuring that the industry abides by its principles of social responsibility.
- We are encouraged by the work done so far by the industry in setting up the charitable trust. Whilst the industry acknowledges that it has some work yet to do in creating a fair method of contribution, it is with the knowledge that the Government will impose a statutory levy should the trust not reach an acceptable level of funding.
- We will maintain an interest in the work of the Gambling Commission in its monitoring of the social and economic impact of deregulation, and look forward to the outcome of Government consultations on prize competitions, on-line gambling and the licensing and regulation of the National Lottery. We also await with interest the result of HM Treasury's review of gaming duty.
- The Minister for Sport said he hoped the Committee would extend its scrutiny to other aspects of the Government's proposals in A safe bet for success. We may return to on-line gambling, bingo and betting during the current Parliament. We also intend to keep a watchful eye on the effect of deregulation on the level of revenue to Good Causes from the National Lottery.