Gambling Law Reforms; a Safe Bet for Success or Promoters Charter?

Author:Mr Aron Dindol
Profession:KSB Law

The publication of the white paper proposing a radical overhaul of the laws relating to gambling in the UK in March 2002 has created an enormous amount of interest in the media and the public at large. There have been suggestions that the new legislation will result in Las Vegas style casino resorts springing up in holiday towns like Blackpool, and there have been concerns raised that British people will turn into gambling addicts.

In unveiling the white paper, Secretary of State for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, Tessa Jowell stated that "a safe bet for success" encapsulates the government's key objectives in making its reform. "We want gambling to be safe, not only for those who take part in it, but also in the way that it impacts on wider society." she continues. This article looks at the proposals contained in the white paper and asks to what extent these appear to meet this objective.

There is little doubt that reform of gambling legislation has been long overdue. Most of the legislation governing gambling was enacted in the 1960's, and responded to an environment that tolerated gambling reluctantly, reflecting the attitudes of the day. The Gaming Board for Great Britain undertook a detailed review of the legal position and its report forms a cornerstone of the new proposals. One of the main themes arising from the report was the inflexibility of the existing legislation, and the criticism that it has not enabled regulation to keep pace with technological advances, including internet gambling.

Following the publication of the report in July 2001 and the responses to the consultation, the government has endorsed the following principals as the key objectives of gambling law and regulation;

Gambling should be crime free, honest and conducted in accordance with regulation.

Players should know what to expect and be confident that they will get it and not be exploited.

There should be adequate protection for children and vulnerable persons.

The government proposes that in order to protect these principles all gambling legislation should be consolidated into a single act of parliament covering all categories of gambling activities. A gambling commission is proposed as the single statutory regulator, which will assume responsibility for all of the regulatory and licensing functions currently undertaken by the Gaming Board. It is proposed that the commission will operate controls on entry to the industry, issuing...

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