DRAFT REGULATORY REFORM (GAMING MACHINES)
12. On 13 March 2003, the Government laid before
Parliament a proposal for a draft Regulatory Reform (Gaming Machines)
Order 2003, together with a Statement by the Department for Culture,
Media and Sport ("the Department"). We reported on the
Government's proposal on 7 May 2003.
On 17 September, the Government laid a draft order for "second-stage"
scrutiny, together with a second Statement ("the second Statement").
13. The principal purpose of the order is to
amend the Gaming Act 1968 ("the 1968 Act") to change
the way in which value can be paid into and out of two types of
gaming machine, the 'jackpot' machine and the 'higher-value AWP'
Under current legislation, only coins may be used to play the
'jackpot' machine (section 31(3) of the 1968 Act) and prizes can
only be paid out in coins (section 31(4)). The same is, in effect,
true of 'higher-value AWP' machines (sections 34(2), (5B) and
(5C)): although the 1968 Act permits payments in to be made in
tokens (as well as coins), because prizes can only be paid out
in coins, only coins can in practice be used for payments in.
The order will allow 'jackpot' machines to accept banknotes and
payments by means other than cash (such as smartcards, but not
debit or credit cards) (as well as coins), and to give out prizes
in banknotes and in non-cash forms (as well as in coins); it will
allow 'higher-value AWP' machines to accept payments and to give
out prizes in banknotes (as well as in coins). In addition, in
respect of both types of machine, the order will make clear that
they are not required to accept payment for a single game. It
will also allow players of 'jackpot' machines to store winnings
for use in further play without the player having to reinsert
money into the machine.
"The £2 cut-off"
14. In our earlier report, we concluded that
the proposal was appropriate to be made under the Regulatory Reform
Act 2001 ("the 2001 Act") save in one respect concerning
the "necessary protection" afforded by the "£2
cut-off". Under the current legislation, players must play
in coin and, since the highest vale coin is £2, a player
has to make a fresh decision to commit each new sum of £2
(or less) to play. Under the original proposal, the Department
proposed to continue this protection by requiring that machines
accepting banknotes and non-cash media should be programmed so
that players would have to make a fresh decision to commit each
separate tranche of £2 (or less) from their note, card or
winnings. The Department proposed that this requirement should
be included in Gaming Board guidelines for suppliers of gaming
machines. The guidelines are non-statutory and non-binding although
observance is taken into account in the decision to issue a certificate
of fitness (to sell or supply machines) under section 27 of the
1968 Act. At "first-stage" scrutiny, we took the view
that although the Gaming Board should be able effectively to enforce
its guidelines, because there would be no Parliamentary scrutiny
of the content of the guidelines the "necessary protection"
of the £2 cut-off would be provided for more effectively
by including it in the order. The Department has accepted this
point and the order has been amended accordingly (Articles 2(4)
Regulatory Reform Committee of the House of Commons
15. The House of Commons Regulatory Reform Committee
also recommended an amendment to the proposal to the effect that
the order should stipulate that the 'higher-value AWP' machines
may accept only coins and banknotes as payment for play. The Department
has accepted this recommendation and the order has been amended
accordingly. In addition, the Department has accepted a number
of points raised by the Commons Committee concerning the content
of the guidelines. Finally, the Commons Committee expressed concern
that there should be some research on the effect of the provisions
under the order on player behaviour, especially with regard to
problem gambling behaviour. The Department has indicated that
the effect of the new machines will be monitored through the Gambling
Industry Charitable Trust and GamCare.
16. In our first Report on this proposal,
we expressed concern about the provision relating to the "£2
cut-off". The amendments which have been made to the proposal
satisfy our concern and we conclude that the order is appropriate
to be made under the Regulatory Reform Act 2001. We therefore
recommend that the order, as it now stands, is in a form satisfactory
to be submitted to the House for affirmative resolution.
4 19th Report, HL Paper 103, Session 2002-03. Back
AWP means amusement-with-prizes. Back