Memorandum submitted by the Gala Group
1. Gala Group is the largest operator of
licensed bingo clubs in Great Britain with 166 branches and is
one of the three large casino operators with 26 operating branches.
Gala has over 5 million bingo and 1 million casino members generating
total admissions of 33 million per annum to our bingo clubs and
2.7 million per annum to our casinos. We employ around 10,000
staff and operate over 7,300 gaming machines.
2. Both the Budd Gambling Review Report
and the subsequent Government response in "A Safe Bet
for Success" are clear and balanced assessments of the
issues involved in the need to modernise and simplify the regulation
of gambling in Great Britain whilst maintaining strict probity
and the protection of the young and vulnerable. Gala fully supports
the underlying philosophy of these reports and their main recommendations
3. The Government's proposals will lead
to significant economic and social benefits. These will be delivered
through an increase in the number of gaming outlets and the subsequent
creation of new jobs as well as through increased taxation revenue
and a step change in the corporate social responsibility strategies
of all gaming operators.
We do not believe that uncertainty is in the
interests of either the consumer or the Industry: therefore, we
believe that it is critical that the Government's proposals are
implemented quickly via both early deregulation and new primary
legislation. We are delighted to see that some deregulation related
to Bingo and new Casino games has already been implemented. We
look forward to the early delivery of other measures, particularly
relating to Gaming Machines Payment Methods, the removal of the
24 hour rule in both Bingo and Casinos and the promised significant
increases to monetary limits in Bingo. Additionally, we hope that
a Bill in respect of primary legislation can be agreed in time
for inclusion in HM the Queen's Speech in November 2003.
It is critical that the Government's recommendations
do not become subject to timetable tension leading to uncertainty
which would in turn result in a lack of early investment which
is critical to the delivery of the benefits outlined at 3.
We generally support the recommendations in
respect of gaming machines in both the Casino and Bingo environments.
However, we feel strongly that within the strictly regulated environment
of a casino, that there should be no artificial limit on the number
of gaming machines through a fixed ratio to the number of gaming
tables (Budd recommendation 57). This should simply be a commercial
We support the Government's recommendation that
a proliferation of casinos is not in the best interest of anyone
and agree therefore that a suitable mechanism is required to prevent
an uncontrolled expansion in the number of casinos (see Budd recommendation
37). We would be happy to help the Government further in its ongoing
further consideration of this matter.
The National Lottery
We are encouraged by the Government's conclusion
that the allowance of bingo rollovers should be allowed and will
not impact on the money raised for good causes by the National
Lottery. Bingo Clubs make a very significant contribution to the
local communities in which they operate which is in our view of
major importance but is not quantifiable in the same way as the
money raised for good causes via the Lottery.
Protection, Probity and Corporate Social Responsibility
We would like to re-iterate our full support
for the corporate social responsibility recommendations which
are inherent within the Government's response. Gala has tangibly
demonstrated its leading role in the voluntary establishment of
an Independent Charitable Trust and will use its industry position
and influence to seek to ensure that the industry fulfills its
funding requirements. We are also actively pursuing the development
of our corporate social responsibility programmes in line with
all of the recommendations.
2 May 2002