|The Interactive Gaming, Gambling and Betting Association (IGGBA) said at the Global Interactive Gaming Summit and Expo (GIGSE) in Montreal that it will try to push sections of the UK gambling bill through Parliament if it looks likely that the bill will be delayed. |
The bill, the first update to the UK’s gambling laws since the 1960s, will liberalize regulation of gambling in the UK, including legalizing Internet gambling. Fixed-odds betting is currently the only type of online gambling allowed in the United Kingdom, provided the operator is licensed and pays the 15 percent bookmaking tax.
Andrew Tottenham, chairman of IGGBA, told a conference audience at GIGSE that the bill may not even be mentioned in the Queen's speech (the precursor to a bill becoming law in the UK) in November. This is because this is a bill that will require a lot of Parliamentary time, and that time may not be granted.
Tottenham said the earliest indications of whether the bill will be taken up by Parliament will be March 2004. Tottenham said he hopes that that during preliminary hearings, the bill will be streamlined to the point where its passage through Parliament is assured. If not, his group will lobby that the online gambling section of the bill should be a separate bill, which could be passed more quickly than the entire bill.
'The hope is that all the contentious bits will get knocked off and all the corners will be smoothed,' Tottenham said. 'There is a danger that there will not be any time for it, so we are looking at ways of splitting off the remote gambling part of the bill to see if it could be introduced in this session.'
Tottenham says regulation of online gambling is crucial for the UK, because it is the only subsection of gambling in the United Kingdom that is not covered by law.
'If you look at the gaming industry, there is existing legislation for casinos, there is existing legislation for betting offices that works OK. ... The only area where no legislation exists is online and remote gambling, so that is the difficulty, and it urgently needs reviewing,' he said.