The 2005 Gambling Act that came into force a year ago was supposed to transform the outmoded British gaming industry into a vibrant, profitable actor in the leisure sector. When that didnÆt happen, it was only a matter of time before legislators and operators had another go at it.
The Conservative Party is taking the opportunity to propose its own changes to gaming legislation, reports the Evening Standard. The proposals seem intended to limit the availability and popularizing of most modern forms of gaming while increasing the offering to a specific localized clientele.
Tobias Ellwood, shadow gambling minister for the Conservatives, said that a Conservative-led government would reverse what it sees as dangerous changes introduced by the Gambling Act 2005. Among the dangers cited is the ability of players to use a credit card for online gambling and relaxed advertising regulations for casinos, bookmakers and online betting sites.
“Gaming must be seen as a form of entertainment where youÆre likely to lose money, rather than win,” Ellwood said.
The minister does support expanding the low-stakes slot machine offering, however. The current Category 3 machines located in bingo halls and arcades have maximum stakes of ú1 and a jackpot of ú500. The Conservative plan would raise the maximum stake to ú2 and the jackpot accordingly. In addition, the total number of machines allowed would be increased by 20 percent. Currently each location is restricted to four machines.
Ellwood said the increased number of Category 3 machines would keep people from playing the supposedly more dangerous fixed-odds betting terminals.
The Evening Standard article says the proposal follows increased calls to a national gambling hotline, claiming calls were up last year from 30,000 to 38,000 and that 7 percent of callers owed more than ú100,000. However, the Gamcare report was for all of 2007, while the new Gaming Act was in force only the last four months of that year.
The report also shows only 25 percent of callers revealed their debt level, and of those, between 6 percent and 7 percent reported either debt over ú100,000 or bankruptcy.