Memorandum submitted by the Good Gambling
I am Richard Whitehouse, editor of the Good
Gambling Guide. We promote sensible gambling as entertainment.
I have been a professional in the gambling business for the last
12 years in the UK.
The White paper addressed many industry concerns
with respect to more freedom of their business. Principally this
affects the casino trade and I will raise points of concern over
the proposals in the Review and White Paper.
1. Whilst it appears correct that casinos
and all gambling should be treated as a normal business with freedom
to market the product, likewise customer protection should match
this. I see serious flaws in the thinking that gambling with credit
cards can produce anything but problems for the individual and
the community at large. If someone wishes to gamble then access
to their current account is already available and should always
be the limiting factor to their upper spend limit. People who
wish to gamble large amounts can always arrange in advance for
liquid funds to be available. This seems to be an ideal area for
government restraint in the interest of the individual and community.
2. There appears to be a move towards the
serving or drinking of alcohol at the gaming tables. On quick
inspection the observer can compare our casinos with Las Vegas
or other countries like Spain. However, the culture in the UK
is markedly different from the continent, where alcohol is treated
in a sensible fashion. In Vegas the very heavy presence of security
guards with guns makes unruly behaviour most unlikely. Not so
here. The casino companies may wish to turn their casinos into
nightclubs with gaming tables to maximise profit but this can
only lead to further lowering of standards which leads on to point
3. The general lowering of standards in
public life has been extended to casinos. Drug abuse and internal
fraud now exists in the majority of casinos today in the UK. The
addition of alcohol will likely improve the odds of criminal infiltration
into this vulnerable business, one that can be said to be a sitting
duck for drug abuse blackmail and wholesale fraud. I recommend
improving the licensing of dealers and better policing of casinos
to bring them back from their serious decline.
4. To increase customer protection we advocate
simple additions to the government of casinos. Firstly a move
for all casinos to employ a compliance officer as firms in the
city are required to do. Their role will be to ensure that customers
who are clearly problem gamblers get the most immediate help instead
of encouragement to gamble more, as is now. They will also ensure
the following rule is adhered to.
I strongly recommend the clear posting of odds
and percentage disadvantage on all table games and machines that
is clearly understandable. This should be done via a reputable
university. This will reduce the problems of certifying new games
with much larger "house advantage". People will be able
to choose for themselves from the available products, just as
they can in any other business or market.
3 May 2002