|The Editor or one of
our professional correspondants make regular contributions to coverage of the
TheEditor on any
|The Department for Culture, Media and
Sport aims to improve the quality of life for all through cultural and sporting
activities and through the strengthening of the creative
want gambling to be safe"
Those words come from the mouth of the
Tesse Jowell, State Secretary at the Department of Culture, Media and Sport.
Oxymoron springs to mind.
We are at last in the presence of the White
Paper on gambling reform in the UK and however silly their opening words may
be, there are important changes coming to a place near you that will affect
your life if you are a gambler.
A new Gambling Commission is on its way
that will sweep away the many and varied out-of-date groups like the Gaming
Board, the HBLB, Local
Authority regulators and the Tote. It will be a big new body that should take
care of everything from Casinos to Bookmakers to Pools and Bet Exchanges and
This will not really play a part of most gamblers
lives. What then are the changes that will make a difference?
For the Good
The very old 1845 Gaming
Act is going to finally be removed from the statute books. For those who
don't know (and why should you) this is the nasty little number that makes a
'gaming contract' one that is not enforceable in a court of law. With that
gone, the new Gambling Commission's aim is that all disputes are handled in the
courts. Gambling debts will now be pursueable as they should be. When a
bookmaker or a casino takes a bet, that will be legally binding on both
Future Casino developments will not be restricted to
designated areas or companies. Foreigners like Park Place or MGM can set up
shop in competition with the locals and competition in this sense is good. The
failing quality of our provincial casinos must surely benefit from a dose of
real commercial pressure. However without real imposed standards I fear
pandering to the lowest common vice will prevail, I mean alcohol. Casinos could
descend into little more than night clubs with gaming tables.
Entertainment will be allowed back more than 30 years after Peggy Lee did a
turn at a top London Casino. She and that quality won't be involved but its a
step towards casinos becoming an entertainment venue.
Sites will be licensed by the Gambling Commission. This will only change
the players ability to get their money if a site goes under.
The 24-hour waiting
for membership rule will go and be replaced by identification for all customers
and probably a fee.
Pools like the football variation will have
unlimited prizes and be accessable via the Internet.
Alcohol will be
allowed at the tables. This might seem like a good idea in Vegas but without
the security that is in place there, it may well lead to the further
degeneration of casinos into nightclubs.
Credit Cards will be
used in Casions and Bookmakers. Nothing could be worse for the uncontrolled
Notes will be allowed into slot machines. These machines
can now eat faster.
We probably won't have to wait too long for some of
these changes as the DCMS are keen on forcing through some of the poorer ideas
through before the wholesale Gaming Act revision.