|Bringing the complicated gaming laws up-to-date have been delayed by “12 months at most”, according to sports minister Richard Caborn. The proposed changes, in which 24-hour membership laws are to be scrapped and casino licensing (which currently varies regionally) is to be overhauled, were never intended to be abandoned but were delayed due to a logjam in legislation including the controversial new asylum bill. “The changes are still on course”, says Caborn.|
MGM Mirage, the world's biggest casino company, has already acquired its first UK license in anticipation of the changes. The company, which recently directed harsh criticism at the hostile and confused legislative climate in the USA, plans to spend hundreds of millions of pounds on establishing itself as a dominant force in the UK gaming industry.
'These changes are evolutionary, not revolutionary,' said Mr. Caborn. 'That is very important for those who have genuine doubts about betting. There is a lot of potential for inward investment, regeneration and tourism and it will create jobs - it will be done in a sensible way.' Investment bank CIBC estimates that gaming deregulation will generate up to £800m of tax revenue. The bill is foreseen to become law in the 2004-05 parliamentary session.
Pre-legislative scrutiny “will start as early as September with a potential end date in February or March next year”, said Caborn.